Wednesday, November 02, 2005

not a cornfield's not a conversation

one of the great things about graduate school is that you're not longer taught by overworked, underpaid TAs. you get to sit in a classroom with the big guns. in my grad school program, there were really only 2 or 3 professors that inspired fits of hero-worship from me. who are deserving of the moniker "genius" and who help change the way you understand the world. when I was in london, saskia sassen was that professor. in LA, it was manuel castells, who earned near-mythic status in london as required reading for every. single. class. so when I got to LA, of course I took his class. and in fact, my thesis was born in that class and encouraged by him. sure, he occasionally had to reschedule classes because he had to be at a meeting with Ricardo (Lagos Escobar) or Jacques (Chirac) but these intermittent interruptions were worth it.

so I find it a little surprising (but just a little) that he's arranged to speak at the not a cornfields project. it makes sense - castells is all about urban development and reclamation. but I hope he offers a strong critical analysis of the project, there's been a ton of hype, very little criticism overall.

unfortunately, I'll just be getting back to the states that day so its unlikely I'll be able to make it. but I wish I could - listening to manuel talk is always a pleasure. details below:

'If you want a better urban life, you invent it, then fight for it'

Manuel Castells in conversation with Not A Cornfield artist Lauren Bon

Friday November 11, 2005 / 7:30pm - 10:30pm
At the Not A Cornfield project site, 1201 North Spring St.

'If you want a better urban life, you invent it, then fight for it'
Internationally renowned sociologist Manuel Castells' theory of the
Network Society describes the spatial form of our time as the
'metropolitan region' - a constellation of multiple nuclear centers,
settlements, populations, and activities that are held together as a
unit by transportation and communication networks.

Stretching from Ventura to Tijuana, Los Angeles is the 'ultimate
region'. A huge urbanized sprawl with many centers in which already
extreme social, ethic and economic segregation is increasing and the
real estate engine drives the city ever deeper into the desert,
causing widespread environmental degradation as it goes.

In this contemporary context the need to develop new forms of livable
high density becomes urgent. In particular, if cities are to be saved
on behalf of citizens, then innovation will come from urban planners,
architects, professionals and concerned citizens forming alliances
that take a holistic approach to creating multiple meaningful social
spaces all around the metro landscape.

In conversation with artist Lauren Bon - whose Not A Cornfield project
reclaims a brownfield site for public use and restores meaning to the
historic birthplace of LA - Professor Castells will discuss his
groundbreaking analyses and thoughts regarding the state and direction
of human experience in the Network Society.


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