A Walk through the Granite Garden

“The city is a granite garden, composed of many smaller gardens, set in a garden world… Nature in the city must be cultivated, like a garden, rather than ignored or subdued.”  In her 1984 classic The Granite Garden, Anne Spirn challenges the idea of the city in opposition to nature, advocating instead a theory of urban ecology. She contends that humans coexist with natural forces … Continue reading A Walk through the Granite Garden

Science Fiction and Planning

As planners, we often engage in visioning processes with communities to identify and elaborate on the kinds of communities we want to plan. Our vision plans build an image of what could be in order to inform the agenda, strategies and policies we then develop and implement as planners. Vision planning can be an imaginative space to respond to the needs and desires of a … Continue reading Science Fiction and Planning

Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man and Seeing Race in the City’s Structure

We typically do not use literature for city planning texts, but Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man (1952) deserves careful consideration. Ellison weaves a narrative through New York City’s urban spatial structure to map how race is physically built into the city’s neighborhood composition, street networks, and utilities. Using the binary of invisible versus visible, Ellison defines invisibility as the African-American experience of being isolated explicitly and … Continue reading Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man and Seeing Race in the City’s Structure