Progressive Planning Postscript: A Call for Actions

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In the Progressive Planning Magazine Fall 2012 issue, an article was adapted from A Call for Actions by Ron Shiffman and Jeffrey Hou from Beyond Zuccotti Park. Below is an excerpt:

We need to be vigilant to ensure that both the availability of public space and the policies that govern its use in no way impede the right to assemble. Rules need to be assessed and promoted that allow us, and our neighbors, to engage in activities that lead to social inclusion. Remember that most of our cities are pluralistic and not homogeneous. Too many of our neighborhoods are the opposite.


Let us collectively find ways that break down the barriers in public space based on class, race, ethnicity and gender. Let us find ways to allow our differences—political, social or economic—to be debated in a civil and respectful manner where dissent and confrontation can sometimes rear their head. Let us collectively think about the function of public space as well as its design. Let us organize forums to discuss and debate these issues. Let us link these discussions to the issues indigenous to the area in which we live or work. Let us begin to occupy these spaces because they are public or need to be public and because they allow us to express ideas and pursue ideas and policies that are important to us and our neighbors—ideas and policies that address inequities or help future generations live a healthy and sustainable life. Let us occupy these public places because our democracy depends on our willingness to engage. Let us make sure that places exist that allow ideas to be nurtured, discussed, refined and animated.


Finally, let us also learn to occupy the voting booth, to develop a way to enable our concerns, our ideas and our energies to translate into political power so that we can begin the arduous tasks of redressing the disparities that we have allowed to emerge and protecting and refining our democracy. Beyond Zuccotti Park concludes with a call for action, asking design and planning professionals in particular not only to support the Occupy movement and its goal of economic and social democracy but also to act as engaged citizens through their participation in and leadership of their neighborhoods, communities and professional forums. Citizen-initiated movements—large, small, global and local—are essential for any society to self-correct its direction…