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Monday, February 13, 2012

Esquire: The United States of 2012 "Agenda21"

By Mark Mikin - esquire.com


Red state, blue state, big state, small state, north and south and east and west: How we define our similarities and differences with each other often comes down to where we see ourselves on the map of America. But what if we threw out the standard-issue version and started over with something new? We asked five artists, architects, and designers to recreate the U.S. map to reflect the state of things this year.


SENSEable City Lab: The United States of Cities

We once were chained to our workplace. The phone chained us to our desk. Then the computer chained us to our desk. And then our work tools became mobile, and so we became mobile, and the distance we were willing to travel to and from work gradually rose. In collaboration with AT&T Labs Research, Carlo Ratti and his team at MIT's SENSEable City Lab — a research group that blends architectural concepts with emerging technology — used anonymous, aggregated cell phone data to prove just how mobile we've become and to explore our evolving definition of state lines. "Today, everywhere is a workplace," Ratti says. "We see people doing their work, using a railway station as an office. An airport as an office. Starbucks as an office. Because of that, our lifestyle is changing, and the fact that people commute from very, very far away is one side of that." The data was compiled during the month of July 2010 from several million commuters who communicated via cell phone; the colored dots represent the commuters' home locations, while the rings and their intensity represent the number of commuters traveling. The resulting map shows a breaking down of the traditional idea of a nation of states, and, instead, an ever-expanding urban sprawl that pushes the limits of our respective cities. This is a version of America that's not based upon politics, or history, but one that's constantly moving.
To learn more about SENSEable City Lab, see their Web site.
Credits: MIT Senseable City Lab, IBM Research, AT&T Labs - Research, New York University. Thanks to: Volkswagen of America, General Electric, and all the members of the MIT Senseable City Consortium. Research team: Till Nagel, Dominik Dahlem, Alexandre Gerber, DeDe Paul, James Rowland, Chris Rath, Carlo Ratti, Anthony Townsend, Mitchell Moss, Carson Qing.

Eric Fischer: The Real-Time City

The real-time city can be defined a number of ways, and Oakland-based digital cartographer Eric Fischer's map defines our cities by where the action is: the places we photograph to preserve, the places we tweet about. By compiling 8,653,518 geotagged tweets (during the year of 2011) and 9,368,254 photos tagged in Flickr (from 2004 until 2011), his United States is an interconnected web, the lines of which consist of a series of dots that each represent one tweet or one photo. Unsurprisingly, America's coastlines are rife with pictures and tweets (Florida's Disneyworld bulges out in the bottom right). But Detroit, a city better known for economic struggle than sightseeing, is surprisingly dense (Michigan as a whole has 187,629 photos and 255,856 tweets alone), and sparsely populated areas like Yellowstone and Yosemite — which normally are hardly represented in census-based maps — are larger than ever, rated more for their beauty than their population. Whereas a map built upon census data is figured down to a city block — a static representation of where you live, where you sleep — this is a map that represents where we vacation, where in our lives is important enough to photograph, to tweet, to report to the world. This web represents a completely different relationship to place; not the aggregate, or the community, but the individual.
To learn more about Eric Fischer City Lab, see his Flickr page.

Stamen: Where Does the Money Go?

The notion of American class mobility is deeply rooted in the ability to make more money. But class mobility can also be measured in the ability to actually move. Using IRS migration data from the 2009-2010 period — which measures the inflow and outflow of citizens who file taxes from county to county — Eric Rodenbeck and his team at San Francisco-based design firm Stamen (Mike Migurski and George Oates) created a map of America that is as extreme as ever. By using the IRS figures and mapping them out on U.S. highways with open-source technology provided by OpenStreetMap, they've created a roadmap of the parts of America that are losing and gaining, and the results are surprising. "We realized that if you look at the biggest 'losers,' essentially what you're looking at are the biggest cities in the U.S.," Migurski says. One of those losers: New York county, which lost $1,306,548,000 and 15,100 people. "But does that actually mean New York is a big loser?" Migurski asks. "One of our ideas was that, you're not a loser if you're losing money. You're an exporter." The sort of exporter, he says, that boosts the rest of the U.S. economy. Traditional Sun Belt retirement areas comprise the gainers; areas like South Florida and Southern California in particular, create what Migurski calls "money sinks." But between the two is a middle that doesn't move, that actually exists in the middle: King and Loving counties in Texas remained unchanged. The rural areas between coasts show movement not from coast to coast, but off the beaten path, within state lines. Stamen presents an America that is in both a state of unrest, and unable — or unwilling — to move at all.
For an interactive version of this map, go to migration.stamen.com.
To learn more about Stamen City Lab, see their Web site.

Interboro Partners: The Arsenal of Exclusion & Inclusion

Though we've lived in a post-Fair Housing Act America more than four decades, that doesn't mean there aren't still ways for communities to be discriminatory. The way Brooklyn-based architecture firm Interboro Partners sees it, a housing discrimination exists still, through what they call the "Arsenal of Exclusion and Inclusion," legal policies that may keep some people in, and keep others out. The policies can be subtle, like in the case of "Ave Maria," a Catholic community in Florida created by Tom Monaghan (the founder of Domino's Pizza), which employs what's called an exclusionary mend: Members of the community are required to pay dues to a Catholic church that's built on the property. The policies can be outrageous, as in the case of an ordinance in St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana, which mandates that only blood relatives can be rented to by owners of single-family homes, if they had become rentals after the disaster. But whether or not the policies are necessarily good or bad can be less than obvious, and in some cases, cause for good: Rainbow Vision, a New Mexico retirement community created for the LGBT community, has created a place for LGBT retirees that can't be matched anywhere, with amenities like drag shows.
For more in-depth descriptions of the weapons from the above map, see below. (Text by Interboro Partners unless otherwise noted.)
Animal Zoning Ordinance
Animals have a right to the city too! But most zoning ordinances prohibit animals of the farm variety, declaring them "inharmonious." Inspired in part by the urban agriculture movement, new animal-friendly zoning ordinances such as the one passed by the Cleveland City Council in January, 2009 seek to overturn these restrictions. —Theresa Schwarz


Annexation/Incorporation
While some cities in the southwest still annex territory, most of the American cities of the midwest and northeast have not expanded much further beyond their 1900s limits (New York, Philadelphia, and St. Louis haven't added territory since the nineteenth century). As Kenneth Jackson illustrates in Crabgrass Frontier, a combination of new laws that made incorporation easy and annexation unworkable, improved suburban services, a rising anti-urbanism that came to see the cities like New York as too big, foreign, and ungovernable, and an ensuing desire for home-rule effectively boxed big cities in. Without tax-revenue sharing, small municipalities — who still relied on the big cities for working, shopping, transportation, and entertainment — depleted the cities' tax bases, and created the city / suburb divide that still plagues cities today.


Armrest
To deter the homeless from sleeping on park benches, decorative armrests are sometimes installed at the midpoint of the benches, making it impossible (or at least very difficult) to get too comfortable on them.


Automatic Elevators
Automatic elevators (also called Shabbat Elevators) are an "exclusionary amenity." By automatically stopping on every floor on Shabbat, they enable Orthodox Jews — who are forbidden from operating machinery on Shabbat — to live in modern, high-rise buildings. On the other hand, they are an inconvenience to non-Orthodox Jews, who typically opt to live elsewhere.


Beach Badge
The use of beach badges to restrict access to beaches proliferated in the 1960s and 1970s in suburban municipalities in the densely populated northeastern corridor. Wealthy municipalities along Connecticut's Gold Coast adopted some of the more extreme measures of exclusion, allocating beach access permits to residents only, installing guarded gates at points of entry, and aggressively patrolling beaches for violators. —Andrew Kahrl


Blood
After Hurricane Katrina, the Council President of St. Bernard Parish introduced an ordinance mandating that owners of single-family homes that had not been rentals prior to Hurricane Katrina could only rent said single-family homes to blood relatives. As 93 percent of St. Bernard Parish's housing stock was owned by whites at the time of the storm, the target of the ordinance is pretty clear.


CC&Rs
Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs) are rules governing land use in private communities. Typically drafted by a Homeowners' Association, or HOA, CC&Rs attempt to guard the property value of homes in the community by regulating everything from paint colors to landscape materials to lawn ornaments. CC&Rs are in the Arsenal of Exclusion because they are often classist (CC&Rs have restricted aluminum siding, barbecue grills, lawn ornaments, basketball hoops, and even American flags). In his book Privatopia: Homeowner Associations and the Rise of Residential Private Government, Evan McKenzie writes of a family in a private development outside Philadelphia that was forced to remove a swing set because it was made of metal and not, as the CC&Rs stipulated, wood.


Concierge
The Concierge is essential to the "tourist bubble:" a package of amenities that are designed to lull in and entertain the tourist while steering him or her away from unexpected encounters with poverty, crime, or decay. Tell a concierge in the downtown of an American city that you are new in town and need some sight-seeing recommendations, and they are likely to point you towards the same safe, tourist-friendly, Chamber of Commerce-certified establishments.


Cul de Sac
A cul de sac is a "closed-end street," which produces closure and discontinuity. Another name for the cul de sac is "dead end." Interestingly, in 2009, Virginia became the first state to ban (or at least seriously limit) culs-de-sac from future developments.


Curfew
Teen curfews are arbitrary and legally-murky. Teen Curfews can be less arbitrary — for example, when Baltimore last year announced a teen curfew in response to a rash of teen stabbings — but many teen curfews represent an unlawful imposition of martial law. In early 2010, San Diego overturned its curfew law due to ambiguous language, and Indianapolis recently overturned its curfew laws when it determined that they forcefully undermine adolescents' first amendment rights. Nonetheless, teen curfews are being implemented in cities and suburbs around the country.


Eruv
Eruv is a Hebrew term for a symbolic boundary, defined according to Jewish religious property law, which allows Jews to conduct activities on the Sabbath (the traditional day of rest) within a broader urban area that would otherwise be prohibited outside of the home. In the contemporary city this boundary is typically built by stringing wire between the tops of existing utility poles, forming an uninterrupted yet nearly invisible enclosure of "doorframes" (wire between two poles) that allows the "wall" of the eruv to be maintained. The eruv is in the Arsenal of Inclusion because it allows practicing Jews who might otherwise be required to segregate themselves to enjoy the benefits of living within a larger urban area while satisfying the traditional requirements of religious property law.—Michael Kubo


Fire Hydrant
As much of Duxbury, MA's coast is blocked by large private residences, the town established a series of public landings allowing waterfront access at streets dead-ending at the water. However fire hydrants are often placed directly in front of the only parking spot available at public landings, thereby excluding those coming from outside the neighborhood wishing to park and visit the waterfront.—Meredith Tenhoor and William Tenhoor


Fire Zone
In beach-front communities like New York City's Rockaway, the streets that dead-end at the beach are sometimes declared "fire zones," on which parking is prohibited (the houses on these streets all have driveways). In Rockaway, the ubiquity of fire zones — which are found on over twenty streets — suggest a non-safety related motivation, namely, keeping away non-residents who wish to access the beach.


Gate
The gates that guard gated communities offer one of the more obvious examples of how we keep out "undesirables." Though statistically there is little evidence that gated communities are safer (or have higher home values) than non-gated communities, the perception that they are has led to more and more Americans living in them each year.


Golf Course
As legal scholar Lior Jacob Strahilevitz points out, a golf course is another type of "exclusionary amenity." Strahilevitz writes that during the 1980s and 1990s, as African Americans began moving to the suburbs in growing numbers, the number of "mandatory membership" residential golf communities in the United States grew significantly. At the time, golf was the most racially segregated warm weather, mass-participation sport in America. (In 1997, 93.4 percent of all American golfers were Caucasian while just 3.1 percent were African American.) Might developers have discovered a method for creating racially-homogeneous communities?


Hockey Rink
In 1994 the Division of Parks, Public Grounds & Recreation in the borough of Glen Rock, NJ, a wealthy, white, suburb of New York City with a population of 11,232, made a decision to replace two basketball courts in the town's Wilde Memorial Park with a street hockey rink. Glen Rock — which is 88 percent White Non-Hispanic — borders Paterson, an older, poorer city that is 13 percent White Non-Hispanic. The decision raised eyebrows because the basketball courts were heavily used by African-Americans from Paterson. It is well known that hockey is played primarily by whites and basketball primarily by African-Americans: while 79 percent of NBA players are African-American, only 2 percent of NHL players are. Moreover hockey — like golf — is often criticized for being elitist: the equipment required to play it — skates, sticks, pads, goals — is expensive, and one typically needs a car to transport it.


Housing Voucher
The large-scale use of housing vouchers began in 1966, when Dorothy Gautreaux and 43,000 other Chicago public housing tenants sued the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) and the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for discrimination. This case eventually led to the Gautreaux Demonstration Project, where people were given vouchers to move from inner city public housing to private housing all over the Chicago metropolitan area, city and suburbs. Today, housing vouchers are among the most progressive weapons in the Arsenal of Inclusion, as they give the poor access to low-poverty communities with good access to jobs, education, and health. —Damon Rich


Immigrant Recruitment
In a bid to save itself from a shrinking population and economic base after General Electric Co. and other industries left the city, Schenectady, NY actively recruited Guyanese immigrants from Richmond Hill, Queens, a Borough of New York City. Starting with bus tours, the Mayor of Schenectady went to unusual lengths to attract new residents to dilapidated neighborhoods in his town of 62,000. Attracted by the availability of affordable housing, in a few years the Guyanese community in Schenectady swelled to 7,000, contributing to the local economy by opening shops and restaurants and reclaiming much of Schenectady's housing stock.—Julie Behrens, Kaja Kühl


Inclusionary Zoning
Inclusionary Zoning or Inclusionary Housing requires developers to make a percentage of housing units in new residential developments available to low and moderate-income households. A major victory for inclusionary zoning took place in 1975 in Mount Laurel, NJ, where the Southern Burlington County N.A.A.C.P. successfully argued that there is a constitutional obligation for municipalities to produce affordable housing. Eventually, this led to the Mount Laurel Doctrine, which continues to encourage the development of affordable housing in New Jersey.


Lavender-Lining
Gays and lesbians have long conveyed queerness through the performance of personal style, but it was only after the birth of the modern gay rights movement that they began to openly delimit queer territory, using sexual orientation as a tool of inclusion to create communities that celebrated queerness, most famously in the Castro in San Francisco and in Northampton, Massachusetts. However the movement also produced places like Alapine, a lesbian-only community in Alabama. —Gabrielle Esperdy


Map
In 2007, The Los Angeles Urban Rangers, a Los Angeles-based group that leads creative explorations of everyday habitats, made maps and led safaris that helped people "find, park, walk, picnic, and sunbathe on a Malibu beach legally and safely." Despite ubiquitous "private property" signs found up and down Malibu beaches, numerous easements and other "loopholes" exist that enable individuals to legally occupy them. The safaris include skills-enhancing activities like a public-private boundary hike, sign watching, a no-kill hunt for accessways, and a public easement potluck.


Minimum Lot Size
Minimum Lot Size regulations, typically found in municipal zoning codes, define the smallest lot size that a building can be built on. Minimum Lot Size is in the Arsenal of Exclusion because suburban municipalities use them to exclude affordable housing, public housing, and the poor, for whom building on large lots is not possible. An early exclusionary use of Minimum Lot Size regulations can be found in New Caanan, CT, which in 1932 zoned 4,000 undeveloped acres "two-acre residential."


"No Loitering" Sign
Loiterers have it tough. Consider the following, taken from the website ehow.com: "People who loiter will often do some type of damage to property, such as tagging buildings with graffiti or damaging concrete with skateboards. Loiterers are sometimes associated with the sale of illicit drugs... In short, loiterers almost always do some level of damage to your business, and rarely provide anything positive." How do you keep loiterers away? For the scourge of teenagers and homeless people everywhere, the "No Loitering" Sign is the most commonly-used weapon homeowners and businesses use to discourage people from hanging out outside their buildings.


No-Cruising Zone
Cruising, or driving a motor vehicle past a traffic control point more than twice within a designated period of time (usually about two hours), has been a staple social activity of Americans as long as cars have been symbols of social status. Many small towns have a route, or "strip," that is an identified cruise zone, and have "cruising nights" when cars drive slowly, bumper-to-bumper through urban boulevards or small town centers. No-cruising zones are a weapon used by municipalities to block recreational driving, and ergo, this conglomeration of supposedly "anti-establishment" youth. In 1999, the ACLU Utah unsuccessfully tried to overturn Salt Lake City's no-cruising zone, stating that it "seeks to criminalize lawful conduct" and "extends to innocuous behavior far removed from the problem it seeks to remedy." Alas, Salt Lake City's no-cruising zone remains in effect.


NORC SSP
NORC stands for "Naturally Occurring Retirement Community." On the one hand, a NORC is just a building or neighborhood that wasn't planned as a retirement facility, but that has a large elderly population. But NORC also refers to Social Service Providers (SSPs) that retroactively service such buildings or neighborhoods with the amenities — home health care, transportation, education, and entertainment — that are found in "purpose-built" retirement facilities. NORC is in the Arsenal of Inclusion because it is a potential foil to the phenomenon of geriatric ghettoization, whereby senior citizens are segregated in isolated, purpose-built retirement communities.


One-Way Street
Greenmount Avenue between 33rd Street and Cold Spring Lane in Baltimore is a wall. On the east side, 85% of residents are black, 16% have a Bachelor degree, and the median income is $40,000. On the west side, 96% of residents are white, 75% have a Bachelor degree, and the median income is $75,000. Such rapid shifts in demographics are common in Baltimore, but this stretch of Greenmount Avenue is interesting for the physical devices that one side deploys to maintain a disconnect from the other. For example, of the eight streets that intersect Greenmount Avenue between 33rd Street and Cold Spring Lane, only one (39th Street) allows travel from east to west. Six of the streets are one-way pointing east (i.e., out of the wealthy, white side), and one of the streets (34th Street) thwarts westward movement with bollards.


Questionnaire
In The Big Sort: Why the Clustering of Like-Minded America Is Tearing Us Apart, Bill Bishop writes about how the developers of the Ladera Ranch, a planned community in Orange County, California, used a questionnaire to steer prospective home buyers into one of its lifestyle-themed developments. Thus for those who "see the Earth as a living system" there is "Terramor," which features bamboo floors, and photovoltaic cells. Across the way, in a development called "Winners," houses are more colonial than craftsman.


Racial Steering
Racial steering refers to the illegal practice whereby real estate brokers guide prospective homebuyers towards or away from certain neighborhoods based on their race. Racial steering is not a thing of the past: in 2006, Corcoran, one of New York City's biggest real estate brokerage companies, made headlines when a sting operation by the National Fair Housing Alliance revealed that Corcoran brokers were drawing maps of Brooklyn that outlined neighborhoods that were "changing." The maps — whose source was a Census map showing percent change in numbers of African-Americans — were used to show white families where they should consider living. The map was not shown to black families with similar financial qualifications.


Regional Contribution Agreement
If, under an inclusionary zoning provision, a developer is required to set aside a percentage of the units for affordable housing, the developer can in some states enter into an agreement with a separate municipality, and effectively pay it to build the units. These agreements are called Regional Contribution Agreements. They are dubious because forcing affordable housing away from wealthier housing discourages a mixture of areas and only serves to reinforce ghettoization. An example of Regional Contribution Agreements are New Jersey's COAH laws, which were created in response to the state's Mount Laurel decision (see "Inclusionary Zoning").


Residential Parking Permit
Residential parking permits create restricted parking districts and exclude the larger public from specific areas. While Residential Parking Permits make sense in congested, residential areas next to universities, medical institutions, sports complexes or tourist attractions, they are often established and enforced in very low-traffic neighborhoods that have plenty of street parking available, especially wealthy ones that are next to poor ones.


School District
The stellar reputation of some public schools can segregate family households from non-family households, especially in urban areas. When a family is in a good district, the money mom and dad save not having to send Ella and Emma to private school is tacked on to the cost of housing. This in turn results in a self-sorting: people who don't have kids find that it is not worth their while to live in the district, and opt (or are forced) to live somewhere else where rent is cheaper (and where they might find retail amenities less suited to the needs of young parents).


Sidewalk Management Plan
Portland's sidewalk management plan proposes a 6' — 8' "pedestrian use zone" in which pedestrians "must move immediately to accommodate the multiple users of the sidewalk." Importantly, the zone measures out from the property line, ruling out leaning on (or sleeping on) buildings. Such a plan isn't needed on the sidewalks of midtown Manhattan; what justifies one in relatively serene downtown Portland? Needless to say, this is a barely disguised attempt to rid downtown Portland of homeless people.


Skywalk
Skywalks are elevated bridges that create interior connections between adjacent buildings. Many cold-weather cities have extensive skywalk systems: Calgary has one that is ten miles long. In Minneapolis, which boasts the largest continuous skywalk system in the United States, skywalks span 8 miles and connect 69 blocks of the city's downtown. While the appeal of skywalks is obvious to anyone who has visited places like Calgary and Minneapolis in the Winter, the fact that skywalks can be privately owned and controlled appealed to other, less frost-bitten cities, who used them to build a secondary, access-restricted circulation system that avoided confrontation with the elements of the public sidewalk below.


Stoop
Functionally, the stoop provides formal access to the parlor-level floor of a brownstone, townhouse, or rowhouse. Stoops are in the Arsenal of Inclusion because they are semi-private spaces that have the qualities of openness and community, but also an unspoken boundary of ownership. In some neighborhoods, they promote interaction and communication among residents of a street or block. At their best, they are crucibles of neighborhood gossip and observation.


Ultrasonic Noise
"Is your business suffering from anti social youths driving your customers away? Are you bothered by crowds of teenagers hanging around your street or business and making life unpleasant?" These questions come from the website of "kids be gone," the exclusive North American importer for the Mosquito Kid Deterrent Device, a small box that emits, as the name suggests, a high frequency sound that only teenagers can hear (persons over 20 typically can't hear high frequencies in the range of 18 to 20 kHz). The company's website brags that the Mosquito has been successfully used in railway stations, shops, and, of course, shopping malls.


Ave Maria
Ave Maria is a master-planned, Catholic-themed town just northeast of Naples, Florida. Developed by Domino's Pizza founder and Roman Catholic philanthropist Tom Monaghan, Ave Maria puts Catholicism at the center of community life, a fact that is evidenced by the 100 foot tall, neo-Gothic oratory in the main square. Through the Ave Maria Foundation, Monaghan also controls a new Catholic university, Ave Maria University, which has over 600 students and is planned to accommodate up to 5,000.


Snowflake
Snowflake is an "Environmental Isolation" community in Arizona, where a group of people with debilitating sensitivities to certain chemicals live in about thirty homes on large, widely-spaced lots. Snowflake offers isolation and neutrality to individuals who would otherwise suffer from exposure to life-threatening ailments and diseases. Have an aversion to common house paints and solvents? Snowflake's rigid product guidelines include a provision that bans them. Originally founded by two Mormons (last names: "Snow" and "Flake"), the community offers privacy and isolation for people unable to healthfully exist in other, more chemically saturated, areas.


Rainbow Vision
Rainbow Vision, a GLBT (gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgender) retirement community near the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in Santa Fe, New Mexico, provides a familiar array of resort and retirement community amenities to a demographic underserved by planned communities. (The untapped market has been highly successful as three more branches are soon opening in the Bay Area and Palm Springs, California, and Vancouver, Canada.) Whether providing assisted-living services to the elderly, or offering Wednesday night drag shows in the community center, the development offers an inclusive array of activities and properties for those attracted to a GLBT-centric environment. Even heterosexual homebuyers have been attracted to the spa, dancing, and nightlife that the community offers.


Sky Village
The residents of Arizona's Sky Village, a planned community at the foot of the Chiricahua Mountains, use their homes to indulge a passion for the night sky. Amateur astronomers, stargazers, and outdoor buffs alike find solace in this low-light, sparsely electrified community of time-share haciendas. Far from any significant city and located in one of America's darkest regions, denizens of Sky Village enjoy night-time hikes, evenings gazing through their personal telescope, or cocktail parties with fellow astro-geeks.


Jumbolair
That's not thunder you hear overhead: that's a 707 Jetliner approaching Jumbolair's 7,550 foot runway in time for dinner at one of the development's 29 contiguous estates. While the commute from this Ocala, Florida community might be measured in nautical miles, everything else resembles the private glitz of a gated neighborhood, from the gated entryway to its formal dining hall. Originally a 380 acre horse farm, Jumbolair was first licensed in 1984 as a fly-in community, one of several across the nation, but the only one with private taxi-ways for its jet-lagged residents.


Peace Village
Peace Village, a 265-home suburban subdivision outside Toronto, looks like a typical North American suburb, until one notices that its streets and culs de sac are dedicated to prominent Muslim thinkers. In fact, Peace Village was built for members of Ahmadiyya, an Islamic sect that fled Pakistan in the 1970s and 80s to avoid religious persecution. The subdivision has unassumingly given these Muslims refuge, as well as license to live according to their conventions within a modern, Western city. A mosque built into the subdivision dominates the skyline, prayer speakers (mounted on poles in the parking lot) call residents to prayer each morning, and in the homes, dual sitting rooms separate men and women at social gathering, while heavy-duty ventilation equipment attenuates the strong odor of Middle Eastern cooking in each kitchen.


To learn more about Interboro Partners, see their Web site.
Credits: Tobias Armborst, Daniel D'Oca, Georgeen Theodore, Rebecca Beyer Winik, Lesser Gonzalez Alvarez.

Dominic McGill: We Are All Keynsians Now

What would the country look like without a middle class? Or, even, without a middle at all? "I took the outline of the U.S. map and then digitally compressed it in the center — basically pushing it in from both sides," painter Dominic McGill says. "We Are All Keynesians Now," as McGill explains, is a carefully orchestrated collage of archival imagery, original illustration, and quotes and statistics that depict a country at odds with itself. "Thirty years of neo-liberal policies have been nothing short of class war," McGill says. He fears a country that won't reverse the tide. Monsters inspired by 16th-century maps come tattooed with phrases like "social mobility," breathing "executive excess." Rick Perry becomes a snake, touting the number 234 — the number of prisoners he's executed since 2000. Occupy's lighthouse project becomes a literal lighthouse, while a statistic for middle-paying jobs being replaced by low-paying jobs straddles the Northwestern coast. McGill's observed America is an America that needs to change, before it envelops itself.
To learn more about Dominic McGill, see this Web site.


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