Tell us about your scholarship and how it relates to urban issues, particularly homelessness.
My terminal degree—they always say terminal cause it kills you—is in public health. My scholarly work is considered public scholarship and my doctorate is in international health, and it’s a practice doctorate because I’m also a nurse practitioner. I always do research that’s outwards focused, in health services, health policy. I’m also really passionate about inter-professional education especially for our health sciences students. I work in a couple of the shelters here in the U-district: Roots young adults shelter, and the Elizabeth Gregory home which is specific to homeless cis and trans women, and functions as a safe house for those dealing with intimate partner violence and trauma. We organize inter-professional groups of medical, nursing, and dental students that do basic foot and dental care and education for them.
In terms of public scholarship, I’m currently wrapping up one project that’s on trauma-informed care called “Soul Stories: Voices from the Margins”, which will be published by the University of California Medical Humanities Press this year. The next one in-line is called Skid road: the intersection of Health and Homelessness,it is an in-depth narrative history of homelessness in King County, looking at how a fairly progressive city/county has historically dealt with the most vulnerable populations, and to figure out how we got to where we are now.
The project that is just starting as part of Urban@UW is the Doorway community café project. We had a faculty retreat in November 2016, and I was a part of brainstorming and planning projects that we could do as a university, looking at our resources, interests, and what we could do that has a higher impact on homelessness, nationally as well as right here on our doorstep. One of the ideas was a place-based studio/ community café. I am working with Lisa Kelly who is a professor in the UW School of Lawwho assists homeless adolescents and young adults with legal issues, and Charlotte Sanders with the School of Social Work. When I was doing study abroad work in Auckland, New Zealand with Jim Dires, we were with our students working with some agencies and NGO’s building partnerships to address homelessness in a more comprehensive, upstream way than just having soup kitchens. They opened a community café called the Merge café, where baristas and all the food prep people are working their way out of homelessness. The whole point was that they have community tables, there aren’t any single tables. There are unobtrusive social workers and outreach workers that help if people are struggling with housing insecurity or food insecurity. There are homelessness services without being known as “the homelessness café”. And we want to see if that model will work specifically for homeless young adults and adolescents in the U District.
How long have you been working on the challenge of homelessness?
I’ve worked as a nurse practitioner and health services researcher around homelessness since 1984. When I was a young adult I had the lived experience of homelessness for about 6 months. It’s a very individual type of experience that directly impacted my practice and my research. My 1st book is a health policy narrative called “Catching Homelessness: A Nurse’s Story of Falling through the Safety Net” came out in August 2016 and it was the UW Health Sciences common book for AY 2016-17. Homelessness and trauma also affected my teaching; I would always include some of that perspective. But, I wasn’t as “out,” with it because it was—and still is—very stigmatizing and people automatically go to the individual choices that you made. So, that’s changed how I teach and also how I interact with students—in a good way.
What role do community partnerships play in your work?
Public health is by definition inter-professional, so I automatically value partnerships as they allow us to avoid the problem of tunnel vision. For something that’s a wicked problem like homelessness, you have to have inter-professional views, and I love it because it keeps me on my toes. We have many partnerships with homeless youth-serving agencies that operate with businesses, and with policymakers.
How will you use data in addressing homelessness through the Doorway Project?
My philosophy about research follows a pragmatic framework of exploring the best methods, questions, and approaches to figuring out possible solutions to societal problems. My research has always been mixed method so I do a lot that’s qualitative as well as quantitative. For my dissertation I used objective medical charts and physical exam findings as well as qualitative methods like participatory community mapping. I personally think it’s a really important way to go for wicked problems like homelessness—wicked being very multifaceted and so there is no one easy solution. For Doorway we are planning on having broad-based objective data as well as qualitative data.
What approaches do you believe are most effective for addressing homelessness in Seattle?
A community café! Since the “white persons founding of Seattle” we’ve had one of the highest amounts of homelessness per capita, from a continual boom-bust economy going all the way back to when the area attracted a lot of single men mostly for shipping and logging. Looking historically at policy solutions, I’m pragmatic and at the same time very empathetic to people who are experiencing homelessness. I have had the lived experience and I’ve worked with many people who are experiencing that, and at the same time I am a citizen and a homeowner and I have children, and I believe there are certain civil standards we need to have as a society. Coming from a nursing and public health perspective, huge homeless encampments are problematic, and they are symptomatic of something that is significantly wrong with how we are handling housing and social support. If somebody is substance abusing, has severe depression or other mental health issues and you get them a stable place to live, even if you don’t get them counseling and medications, a lot of the time they get better. We need a lot more supportive, longer-term housing, especially for young adults. I’m a mom of two young adults and they had lots of stability and resources, and a lot of the young people right out by the window here have not had those resources, they’ve gone through foster care, detention in the past, fractured lives, and trauma.
What do you see for the future of research and policy-making in your field, and in homelessness as an urban challenge?
More consumer involvement. I work with the National Health Care for the Homeless Council, and they focus on grassroots community involvement. Everything that they do includes consumers to vet certain changes. So, I think of having that as more of a model. Also, respecting people’s time: I’m paid to go to meetings because I’m a faculty member but someone who is struggling to make ends meet, a meeting is taking time away from what they could do otherwise to make money. So, paying them for their time and valuing their input—I think we could do that even more.
If you could give aspiring urban scholars a piece of advice, what would it be?
Get out there—and wear comfortable shoes! It’s one thing to sit in some little office pod or library being very removed. If you’re talking urban scholarship, community involvement is very important, in whatever way you are able to, get out there and take time to be a part of the community that you’re studying or living in.
Written by Shahd Al Baz, Urban@UW Communications Assistant
How social networks help perpetuate the ‘cycle of segregation’
Think about the last time you looked for a new apartment or house. Maybe you asked your friends or colleagues about where they lived. You thought about your route to work, or that neighborhood you always drive through on your way to your kid’s soccer practice. Many of these places were familiar to you, whether from an occasional visit or part of a daily routine. And if you’re like most people, you ultimately moved to a neighborhood you knew about first- or secondhand.
That decision helped, however unintentionally, to cement patterns of residential segregation, says Kyle Crowder, a University of Washington Professor in the Department of Sociology and co-author of “Cycle of Segregation,” published in January by the Russell Sage Foundation. In the book, Crowder and his co-author, Maria Krysan of the University of Illinois at Chicago, focus on Chicago neighborhoods, the opinions of residents and the past and present policies that shape the city — put simply, a city known for its white neighborhoods on the north side, and black neighborhoods on the south and west.
Chicago, Crowder and Krysan point out, has some characteristics particularly endemic to large, industrial metropolises that grew in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. But relatively newer cities like Seattle don’t escape the economic, political and social forces that create and maintain segregation, Crowder said. Nor is addressing them an easy fix.
Cities, scientists unite in battle against climate change at U.N. summit
Climate scientists and city planners are to start charting a global roadmap on how cities can best battle climate change, when they gather at a U.N.-backed summit in Canada’s Edmonton on Monday. The three day gathering marks the first time cities rather than nations are offered a seat at the table of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the U.N.’s top scientific authority on global warming, organizers say. “What this will do ... is significantly advance the science that mayors and city governments need on which to base their actions,” said David Miller, North America’s director for the C40 Cities network, one of the organizers of the summit. The panel of scientists’ growing interest in cities mirrors fledgling recognition among global leaders that breakneck urbanization must be steered on a path toward reducing planet-warming greenhouse gases, said Miller.
The stakes are high: cities account for an estimated 75 percent of carbon emissions, according to U.N. figures. Under the Paris climate agreement, nearly 200 countries agreed to curb planet-warming emissions enough to keep the rise in global temperatures to well below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial times, ideally to 1.5 degrees. But without unprecedented action temperatures could rise above 1.5 degrees, according to a draft report by the IPCC seen by Reuters earlier this year. About 50 percent of the world’s population live in urban areas, a figure expected to grow to 66 percent by 2050, according to the U.N.
Many homeless people take better care of their pets than themselves; this clinic helps them
Homeless people with pets are usually criticized and sometimes turned away from shelters. But that’s starting to change.
His name is Bud the Amazing Wonder Dog, but the huge German shepherd-rottweiler mix was not feeling amazing or wonderful during his clinic visit, as he whimpered and tried to steady himself on an examination table too small for a dog his size. His owner, a homeless man named Stan, wrapped his arms around Bud, whispering, “I’m sorry, baby.” Stan, who asked that his last name not be published, told the veterinarian that Bud has a cramp in his cheek and arthritic pain in his paws.
Bud the Amazing Wonder Dog is one of many animals who’ve come to The Doney Clinic hosted at Union Gospel Mission in downtown Seattle in the more than 30 years it has been running.It’s one of very few clinics in the country like it. Named for Bud Doney, a veterinarian in Interbay who started it in 1985, the clinic is free — the only requirement is that owners get their pets neutered after the first appointment.
And there’s evidence homeless pets could actually be better off; one study found that they were healthier than housed pets, less likely to be obese, and had fewer behavioral issues like aggression to strangers or separation anxiety. “They typically have a constant connection with their human” states , professor in the
Shocker: It’s mostly men moving to Seattle for tech jobs
For every four men who moved to Seattle for a tech job in the last decade, only one woman did, too, according to a recent analysis that looked at the trend of tech transplants nationwide.To industry experts and academics, the findings from the careers website Paysa.com came as no surprise. The data is more of the same — evidence of a gender void in the technology sector that has been well-documented but is slow to change.
Amid a social push for hiring reforms in recent years, Microsoft in 2015 was hit with a lawsuit accusing it of gender bias in its hiring practices. Facing public pressure around the same time, several major tech companies disclosed their workforce demographics — proving what many already perceived: The industry heavily favored men.“Unfortunately, it’s not shocking at all,” Ed Lazowska, a computer science professor at the University of Washington, said of Paysa’s findings. “This is a field that has a tremendous gender imbalance.”
Margaret O’Mara, a history professor at UW who specializes in the history of tech, said it will take time to see the cultural shift that recent awareness has sparked. Although more people are seeking careers in tech, the overall proportion of women in the field is declining, she said.
May HQ2 be ever in your favor: Amazon’s new short list pits 20 cities against each other
Amazon’s decision to establish a second and equal corporate headquarters outside of Seattle made the company an object of desire and scorn simultaneously, as cities were suddenly pitted against one another for the $5 billion prize.
And while the 20 candidates that made Amazon’s HQ2 short list last Thursday are likely celebrating, the decision to publicly narrow the field isn’t going to assuage any concerns that Amazon is staging its own Hunger Games, and using cities in need of economic development as the contestants.
“In an age where cities and states are starved for resources, often times these efforts at economic development, the costs of tax breaks for the city, will far outweigh whatever benefits come from the number of jobs created,” Margaret O’Mara, a University of Washington History professor specializing in urban history, told GeekWire this past September.
Skid Road: The intersection of health and homelessness
After years of caring for the homeless in the streets and dilapidated motels of Richmond, Virginia, nurse Josephine Ensign became homeless herself.
Many of her patients were prostitutes—some as young as 15—and her conscience no longer allowed her to adhere to her clinic’s policies. Though she was Christian, she was fired for referring many of these women for abortions, for not making AIDS patients “account for their sins” before they died, and “no longer being a Christian woman with a humble and teachable spirit.”
The environment we grow up with informs how we define “nature,” UW psychology professor Peter Kahn says. Encounters with truly wild places inspire people to preserve them.Think, for a moment, about the last time you were out in nature. Were you in a city park? At a campground? On the beach? In the mountains?
Now consider: What was this place like in your parents’ time? Your grandparents’? In many cases, the parks, beaches and campgrounds of today are surrounded by more development, or are themselves more developed, than they were decades ago. But to you, they still feel like nature.
Frances McCue meditates on changing city in new poem collection ‘Timber Curtain’
“This is Seattle. A place to love whatever’s left,” writes UW faculty member Frances McCue in her new book of poetry, “Timber Curtain.” “(W)here new things are coming, shinier than the last / I’m the bust standing in the boom / the poet in the technology world / spread along the timber bottom” — from the poem “Along With the Dead Poet Richard Hugo.”
McCue, a well-known area poet, teacher and self-dubbed “arts instigator,” is a senior lecturer in the UW Department of English. She was a co-founder of Richard Hugo House, at 1634 11th Ave. in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, and served as its director from 1996 to 2006. The original Hugo House — a place for writers — was demolished in 2016; it now has a new temporary home at 1021 Columbia St. while the venue awaits new digs.
Urban@UW compiles Faculty Highlights Report for research, teaching and engagement on homelessness
As part of its recently launched Homelessess Research Initiative, Urban@UW has collaborated with faculty and staff across all three UW campuses to compile a broad-ranging selection of powerful and robust projects addressing homelessness from a research lens. Check out the Faculty Highlights Report to learn more about these efforts and the people behind them.
The Faculty Highlights Report was developed by Urban@UW’s Homelessness Research Initiative.
UW researchers analyze effects of minimum wage on seattle food prices
Many states and localities throughout the U.S. have adopted higher minimum wages, and higher labor costs among low-wage food system workers could result in higher food prices. However, this study finds no evidence of change in supermarket food prices by market basket or increase in prices by food group in response to the implementation of Seattle’s minimum wage ordinance. This paper is part of a broader Minimum Wage Study at the University of Washington.
If you don’t live in Silicon Valley, chances are you live in its close relative: “the next Silicon Valley.” The label has been slapped with abandon on towns, cities, regions, or sometimes entire countries. All it takes is an uptick in job growth, an influx of startups, or a new coding bootcamp for the cliche to come roaring into headlines and motivational speeches.
In 2008, Margaret O’Mara developed an urge to chronicle this obsession. A Department of History professor at the University of Washington, she’d written a book several years earlier about the search for the next Silicon Valley. The moniker remained as omnipresent as ever, so she hired an undergraduate student to compile every Silicon Valley, Alley, Peak, Beach, Desert, Wadi, Bog, and more. Six weeks later, the student had to concede defeat: There were too many silicon somethings to track. “It’s become this global race. It’s a competitive thing, it’s a branding thing,” says O’Mara. “It’s a way of saying, ‘Look, we are just as forward-thinking and 21st century as everyone else.’”
What the bond between homeless people and their pets demonstrates about compassion
A video camera captures an interview with a man named Spirit, who relaxes in an outdoor plaza on a sunny afternoon. Of his nearby service dogs, Kyya and Miniaga, he says, “They mean everything to me, and I mean everything to them.”In another video, three sweater-clad dogs scamper around a Los Angeles park, while their companion, Judie, tells their backstory. And in still another clip, Myra races her spaniel mix, Prince, down a neighborhood street.
The images have an every-person quality — a collection of random pet owners, explaining why they love their dogs. And that’s part of the point of the series: The people featured are homeless, and a focus on their relationships “humanizes” a population that is often neglected or shunned, according to University of Washington Department of Geography professor Vicky Lawson.
Lawson and her colleague, Wesleyan University postdoctoral researcher Katie Gillespie, studied these videos from the multimedia project My Dog is My Home, created by the New York-based nonprofit of the same name, and wrote about its essential themes for the journal Gender, Place and Culture. Their article, published online June 14, is a call to action, not only for services for homeless people and animals, but also for new understandings of them.
Black life is draining out of Seattle, census shows
South King County has long been a place where people with modest incomes could find a home. Now more people are coming, driven by high rents in Seattle. And a University of Washington School of Sociology researcher has found that African-Americans are among the most affected by this wave of displacement. Tim Thomas of the University of Washington discovered the trend while digging deep into Census data. “There’s this massive shift of African-Americans in Seattle moving away from where opportunity or higher-income areas are,” Thomas said.
USGS, partners launch a unified, West Coast-wide earthquake early warning system
The U.S. Geological Survey and university, public and private partners held an event April 10 at the University of Washington to introduce the ShakeAlert earthquake early warning program as a unified, West Coast-wide system. The event also introduced the first pilot uses of the earthquake early warning in Washington and Oregon.
The first Pacific Northwest pilot users of the system are Bothell, Wash.-based RH2 Engineering, which will use the alerts to secure municipal water and sewer systems so these structures remain usable after a major quake. Oregon’s first test user, the Eugene Water & Electricity Board, will use alerts to lower water levels in a canal above a residential area in Oregon, and to stop turbines at a river power plant. A parallel launch event was held in Eugene the same day.
“We are thrilled to take the first steps in integrating earthquake early warning into life in the Pacific Northwest,” John Vidale, UW professor of Earth and space sciences and director of the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network. “Our teamwork has made it possible to reach this milestone so quickly.”
On Sunday, Sept. 12, 1971, hundreds of people began marching toward Matthews Beach Park along the shores of Lake Washington north of Sand Point. Families, couples, adults and senior citizens converged on the park in two streams – one from the south, one from the north. They marched there that sunny late-summer afternoon along old railroad tracks, on a route that dated to the 1880s. The “hike-in” and rally was organized by UW professor emeritus Merrill Hille to draw attention and create support for turning the old railroad tracks to a bike and pedestrian trail. Elected officials and civic leaders spoke to an estimated crowd of 2,000 people, and the event was a turning point in the history of what became the Burke-Gilman Trail.
This story was originally published in MyNorthwest by Feliks Banel.
Honoring Women Collaborators at Urban@UW
In honor of International Women’s Day, we are highlighting just some of UW’s brilliant female professors, scholars, and and change-makers with whom Urban@UW is proud to collaborate. Click on their names to explore their work.
Thaisa Way, Executive Director, Urban@UW; Department of Landscape Architecture
Julian Agyeman, Professor of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning at Tufts University, will be delivering a talk at the University of Washington on February 28 at 7:30pm. Agyeman was originally trained as an ecologist and biogeographer before turning to critical urban studies and environmental social science. Agyeman’s scholarship challenges basic notions of sustainability through his concept of ‘just sustainabilities,’ which aims to enhance equity and justice for both humans and ecosystems, now and into the future. In anticipation of his visit, Urban@UW has compiled a brief reading list.
Julian Agyeman and Duncan McLaren challenge the notion that connectivity, apps, and sensors mean enhanced livability for everyone by indicating they can also risk sidestepping inclusive politics. Agyeman and McLaren argue that truly smart cities need to use technology that bolsters possibilities for political participation, sharing, and inclusion, instead of market driven solutions that threaten urban equity.
Agyeman traces the evolution of and responses to the term environmental justice across international lines in response to differing racial, social, and classist circumstances surrounding inequalities. Agyeman posits that environmental justice is increasingly becoming a human rights issue rather than an American-centric civil rights issue
The emergence of food justice has had profound implications for both theory and activism. Food justice’s aspirations for going local in order to challenge the inequities of large-scale agri-business can unfortunately create its own fields of exclusion through high craft, expensive, local food items or cultivate a culture around local food that is available only to those with the financial means. Agyeman and Jesse McEntee argue that urban political ecology can offer a lens to critically focus on possibilities for retooling approaches to the food justice problem.
Compiled by Andrew Prindle & Urban@UW.
Working with community to tackle homelessness
Seattle’s rapid rise in homelessness, coinciding with increasing costs in housing and living, have brought significant challenges to economically vulnerable populations in the Puget Sound. In spite of a sense of urgency regionally and in many areas of the country, sufficient resources, effective systemic fixes and broad support still have not come together to end homelessness.
As a research and teaching institution, the University of Washington seeks to develop strategies to address the problems facing citizens experiencing homelessness. These efforts include developing rigorous research questions and projects, analyzing the barriers to housing, and working with practitioners and civic leaders to find sustainable solutions.
University of Washington faculty and students are now looking to how we might expand our capabilities and our connections with communities to collaboratively work to mitigate the effects of homelessness, improve access to and retention of housing, and contribute to ending homelessness.
As policymakers, communities, and practitioners consider changes in priorities and services to address the recently accelerated rise in homelessness, new research questions and needs arise requiring ethical monitoring and the implementation of productive and effective measures. This presents both an opportunity and challenge for the University of Washington.
One effort to build on the UW’s work includes Urban@UW working in collaboration with the West Coast Poverty Center and other key partners to catalogue existing homelessness-related projects and research across the University’s departments and centers, in order to gain insights into strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities. A faculty retreat in fall 2016 brought together researchers and practitioners from across UW’s three campuses to share information and develop new projects.
Connecting researchers from various and occasionally disparate fields is essential to fostering new collaborations capable of advancing thinking at a rate commensurate with the challenge at hand. By building a network of current initiatives we aim to facilitate the development of new opportunities for those interested in participating; and foster research that improves data analytics, evaluates policies and strategies, and addresses the barriers to housing for the diverse populations experiencing homelessness.
As part of increasing research and data analytic approaches to homelessness, Urban@UW organized a workshop at the 8th International Conference on Social Informatics conference in downtown Bellevue, WA in November 2016. Local and national researchers presented their work on technological and data-driven solutions to improve services, understand population processes, and develop effective community interaction with persons experiencing homelessness.
Additionally, on January 17 and 18, the MetroLab Network, a national city-university network hosted by the City of Seattle and the University of Washington, met in Seattle City Hall for a Big Data and Human Services Workshop. Keynote speakers and breakout discussions explored ways to direct research and technology to improve services while addressing income inequality, health, mobility, and homelessness. The School of Social Work will be Urban@UW’s partner in addition to others as we move forward in this arena.
Many UW faculty staff and students work, and many have worked for decades, in different ways to end or ameliorate the effects of homelessness. Urban@UW takes the challenge of how to propel this work forward and, though smarter collaboration, increase effectiveness. As UW and Urban@UW build a collective homelessness initiative, we look forward to more opportunities for community stakeholders to participate. Keep an eye out for updates from Urban@UW and the University of Washington regarding these issues. If would like more targeted communication about homelessness, please consider joining our mailing list, or our listserv for urban-related information and events. Any questions may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Written by the staff of Urban@UW.
UW professor: Seattle exposed to most ‘chronically high noise levels’ of any city in US
How Seattle’s development is impacting your health and, more specifically, your ears is not something being taken into account by city leaders, according to a University of Washington professor. And changing an ordinance that mutes construction’s noise pollution to match other cities from around the country might be a potent elixir, he says.
Eliot Brenowitz, a professor of psychology and biology at UW, co-authored a piece for Crosscut that says Seattle residents are “being exposed to some of the most chronically high noise levels from construction of any city in the nation.” And while he is concerned, he told KIRO Radio’s Jason and Burns that the title of the Crosscut piece, “Seattle’s construction noise is out of control — and deadly,” is not what he had in mind.
Reflections on Urban Environmental Justice in a Time of Climate Change
On November 7th and 8th Urban@UW, in collaboration with the University of Washington’s Climate Impacts Group (CIG), hosted a symposium to begin transdisciplinary conversation on the multifaceted dynamics and consequences of Urban Environmental Justice in a Time of Climate Change (UEJ). Below are some reflections from this event, and a sample of the resources we’ll be sharing from our time together.
Urban environmental justice has been impacting cities for centuries, if not millennia, where unequal power distribution creates disparate living conditions that typically fall along racial, ethnic, and class lines. Climate change is expected to accelerate already existing injustices in vulnerable communities. Flooding islands and coastlines, drought conditions, erosion, aridity, and soil loss are already impacting multitudes of marginalized as well as traditionally subsistence and agricultural communities.
Jacqui Patterson, Director of the NAACP Environmental and Climate Justice Program, argued during her Walker-Ames lecture that these communities are the proverbial canaries in the coal mine, but that impacts will not be isolated to such communities. Rather, given time and continued inaction, people of all races and classes will invariably experience the hardships wrought by the adverse conditions of climate change.
Given the scale of impacts of these challenges, a major goal of the UEJ symposium was to gather community leaders, academics, and the public to begin learning from each other on the topic of urban environmental justice: what are you studying, what are you finding, what’s working and what’s not, what partnerships could be made? Perhaps most critically, how does academia engage with communities and institutions in a way that is not only respectful, but collaborative and community-driven?
While academics have been working on environmental justice issues for decades, this work too often tends to operate within the confines of the academy and overlooks stakeholder input. Speakers at the UEJ symposium, experts in this field, explained that this tendency leads to insulated input from those most affected, and further confines data and analysis to traditional quantitative information such as geospatial data, census results, and other forms of ‘hard data.’ This pattern thus restricts the inclusion of “non-traditional” forms of data, notably those understandings drawn from the lived experiences of those most affected. Therefore the goal is not simply to include more types of information, but to combine quantitative and qualitative data through collaboration between researchers and communities in order to more robustly and comprehensively document injustices in a way that allows legibility, participation, and engagement of a greater diversity of people, scholars, and community members.
A further challenge comes in addressing the deep structural issues of racism, sexism, and classism that pervade the behavior of some communities as well as larger social and political institutions. Tom Goldtooth, director of Indigenous Environmental Network, spoke to us via live audio feed from Standing Rock and made clear to the audience that although the scale of this particular protest may be significant, this is just an example of the repeatedly lived experiences for disenfranchised peoples wherein the needs and actions of state actors and/or corporations are able to avoid repercussions of land seizure, pollution, or treaty infringements.
Furthermore, the scope of injustices is not simply urban. While cities have increasingly been the focus of a trove of writing on the topic, a more accurate perspective must recognize that urban does not simply mean “city” – but should better refer to the regions that urban, peri-urban, and rural communities all participate in. While cities may have denser populations, environmental justice persists across the entire spectrum of environments. Julie Sze, professor and Chair of American Studies at UC-Davis, explained the demarcations of neighborhood, town, or city all fail to account for the scale of consequences of climate change effects and environmental injustices, and argued for the necessity of deep, inclusive collaboration and communication.
Many visiting scholars and panelists, including Mia White, Rachel Morello-Frosch, Kim Powe, and Jill Mangaliman, indicated that environmental injustices are not rooted in isolated moments of conflict, but rather are the result of a sustained conflict where market forces and structural disenfranchisement may repeatedly infringe upon sovereignty, food systems, human health and well-being, and environmental integrity. Discovering points of action in these complex issues will require that academics and others collapse the usual barriers of collaboration and information access.
Looking forward, the conversation among scholars, activists and other attendees argued that a failure to reach across usual lines—of discipline, sector, class, race, gender, and other differences—will effect the continued, critical loss of skills and experiences for both students and scholars, that may be compounded by a collective loss for the academy and their communities to know and learn from each other. Scientists, policymakers, community members and others can make it so their work is not only collaborative, but inclusive and broadly informed.
Below is a selection of readings from the speakers who joined us for this event. More resources, including video from the event, will be published soon.
Tom Goldtooth,Why REDD/REDD+ Is Not a Solution, No REDD Papers Volume 1, edited by Hallie Boas,13-25, Indigenous Environmental Network and Carbon Trade Watch, 2011.
Julie Sze, “Exploratory Concepts, Case Studies and Keywords for Teaching Environmental Justice and Climate Change from the Humanities”,Teaching Climate Change in Literary and Cultural Studies, edited by Stephanie LeMenager, Stephen Siperstein and Shane Hall, 184-190. Routledge, 2017.
Urban@UW hosted the Urban Environmental Justice in a Time of Climate Change Symposium together with the Climate Impacts Group, and was a sponsor for the Graduate School’s Walker Ames lecture featuring Jacqui Patterson.
NYC, Chicago mayors join Seattle’s Ed Murray is support of “sanctuary cities” for immigrants
SEATTLE — Democratic mayors of major U.S. cities that have long had cool relationships with federal immigration officials say they’ll do all they can to protect residents from deportation, despite President-elect Donald Trump’s vows to withhold potentially millions of dollars in taxpayer money if they don’t cooperate.
New York’s Bill de Blasio, Chicago’s Rahm Emanuel and Seattle’s Ed Murray are among those in “sanctuary cities” who have tried to soothe immigrant populations worried about Trump’s agenda.
“Seattle has always been a welcoming city,” Murray said Monday. “The last thing I want is for us to start turning on our neighbors.” In Providence, Rhode Island, Mayor Jorge Elorza, the son of Guatemalan immigrants, said he would continue a longstanding city policy of refusing to hold people charged with civil infractions for federal immigration officials, and Newark’s Ras Baraka echoed that, calling Trump’s rhetoric on immigration “scary.”
During the campaign, Trump gave an immigration speech in which he promised to “end the sanctuary cities” and said those “that refuse to cooperate with federal authorities will not receive taxpayer dollars.” He blamed such policies for “so many needless deaths.”
Trump didn’t elaborate further on his plans for cracking down on the cities, and in a “60 Minutes” interview broadcast Sunday, he said his administration’s immediate priority will be on deporting criminals and securing the border.
First Livable City Year projects underway; kickoff event Oct. 6
Not even a week has passed since the start of the quarter, and already a group of University of Washington public health students is deep into discovering the cultural flavor and identity of each neighborhood in a nearby city.
The project is a sizeable challenge: Students will pour over census and public health data, interview residents, photograph neighborhoods and summarize their findings in a report. The end result will help officials in Auburn, Washington, know how to best engage and communicate with the culturally diverse populations in the city.
The program will formally celebrate the start of its first year at 10 a.m. Oct. 6 at wǝɫǝbʔaltxʷ – Intellectual House on the UW’s campus in a kickoff event open to all. Professors leading Livable City Year courses this fall will talk about their projects, followed by a time for Q&A.
“My students are really excited to be part of a larger initiative,” said India Ornelas, a UW assistant professor of health services who is teaching the class that will profile each Auburn neighborhood.
“They get to do something they really know will be valued and practice their professional skills to engage with each community.”
The projects in Auburn this fall include addressing homelessness issues, building awareness of city values, understanding wastewater discharge, managing pet waste and evaluating the success of a buy-local program. UW undergraduate and graduate students in six different courses spanning environmental and public health, sociology, and urban design and planning will deliver reports and recommendations to city leadership at the end of the quarter.
Sociology professor Kyle Crowder is tackling three separate projects on homelessness in Auburn with his upper-level undergraduate course on cities and neighborhood dynamics. One will assess and prioritize Auburn’s plans for addressing homelessness, and another will develop innovative strategies for understanding the size, change and distribution of the city’s homeless population.
A third project will focus on finding incentives to maintain the city’s relatively affordable older homes in the midst of expensive residential expansion.
“These are neat projects in that they allow students to work on things that are practically important, but there’s also, in a way, a ‘dream big’ element,” Crowder said. “There are great tools and resources at this university, so the more we can bring those to the community, the better off everyone will be.”
Several projects from this quarter will continue with Auburn for the rest of the academic year, and a half dozen new ones will begin winter and spring quarters. Other cities around Washington can apply to work with the UW through the Livable City Year program in future years.
For more information, contact Livable City Year program manager Jennifer Davison at email@example.com or 206-240-6903.
September Recap - News, Big Data, and Monthly Hightlights
September is nearly gone, but this was not a very sleepy month. The University of Washington has started the new school year and the past month has seen some tremendous developments for urban thinking and the City of Seattle.
KQED published a piece about urban heat islands and how changes in landcover from hard-scapes and lawns to gardens and natural plantings would yield cumulative cooling effects—but in a surprising way, where day time temps would rise but night time temperatures would drop more significantly.
KUOW published a piece about the loss of public space and how libraries have found key ways to serve a variety of citizens by providing internet connectivity and a safe place to learn and engage with each other.
PARK(ing) Day+ was a great two-day success in Seattle. We wrote a piece about the history and importance of PARK(ing) Days and interviewed a team of students and recent UW Landscape Architecture graduates, Little Collective, about their installation and the far reaching consequences of ecologically sound stormwater management.
MetroLab Network will receive support from the Annie E. Casey Foundation for the Big Data + Human Services Lab in order to coordinate and enact change for cities through unique partnerships with representatives from local government, univerisities, industry, non-profits, and and other experts. The MetroLab Network is one of Urban@UW’s emerging partnerships; this initiative addresses the application of big-data techniques to resolve urban issues through civic and academic partnerships. A kickoff event will happen this January 17, 18, 2017. Stay tuned!
Urban@UW compiles monthly recaps highlighting the urban research happening across the University of Washington.
August Sees New Grants, Project Launches, and Original Research and Writing
August was a busy month at the University of Washington and the Seattle region when it comes to urban research, writing, and project launches. Take a look at what’s been happening.
The eScience Institute‘s Data Science for Social Good (DSSG 2016) research fellows concluded their summer with a rich symposium of research and strong media responses, including: The Seattle Times and ORCA card data, TechCrunch overviewed each project, GeekWire profiled the ORCA project and OpenSidewalks, and Geekwire published another piece showcasing connections made between Amazon reviews and food safety.
Crosscut concluded a very well-done 3 part series on Seattle’s homeless.
The National Endowment for the Humanities awarded $179,000 to fund a 2017 summer institute focusing on western cultural conceptions of urban/nature dynamics by using Seattle’s complex environmental history as a focal point to examine broader implications for global justice and health.
Urban@UW, the School of Public Health, UW Sustainability, College of Built Environments, and Undergraduate Academic Affairs are proud to be working with the University of Washington and the City of Auburn in the Livable City Year program. This new initiative combines the talents of civic and academic institutions to work collaboratively work towards actionable solutions.
Urban@UW compiles monthly recaps highlighting the urban research happening across the University of Washington.
NEH Awards $179,000 for Urban-Nature Summer Institute at UW
The National Endowment for the Humanities has awarded nearly $180,000 for a new summer institute on the urban environment at the Simpson Center for the Humanities at the University of Washington.
The institute, City/Nature: Urban Environmental Humanities, examines how Western cultures have historically viewed city and nature as separate—and how a more integrative understanding can serve an increasingly urbanized world. It uses Seattle’s complex environmental history as a window into broader questions of global justice and health.
Urban landscape historian Thaisa Way, urban ecologist Ken Yocom, and literary scholar Richard Watts will lead the institute, which includes field trips along with literary readings and discussions, public lectures, dinner conversations, and dedicated research time. They will assemble a diverse cohort of 25 faculty from two-year and four-year colleges and universities nationwide. Application information will be available in fall 2016, and the institute runs June 26 to July 14, 2017.
The course recognizes that the humanities offer tools for thinking about climate change, poverty, political injustice, and other wicked problems that converge in 21st century cities.
“Nature and the city—or culture and the natural world—have, for centuries, been cast as opposites,” said Way. “An intellectual and a perceptual rift suggesting that cities are separate from the natural world is persistent both among scholars and in the public imagination.
“When nature has been identified in the city, it is largely recognized in the parks and gardens, in other words in the greenness of the grass, shrubs, and trees. Nature is rarely acknowledged in the stormwater that runs down the streets and into the sewer, the wind that blows through the urban canyons, or the weeds that grow in the cracks of the sidewalk.”
Undoing the city-nature dichotomy has been a fertile project for the field of environmental humanities. Course readings and guests will include scholars who have demonstrated integrative thinking and research.
“By pushing the boundaries of scholarship and teaching in the urban environmental humanities, participants will contribute to a more robust reading of the impact of an increasingly urban world that is facing significant environmental changes,” said Way.
Field trips will visit the Brightwater Sewage Treatment Center, downtown Seattle (built on former marshes), Gas Works Park, and a Superfund site on the Duwamish River.
“These site visits force us to confront the coexistence of built and natural environments at the city’s core,” said Way.
Way, Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture, brings a history of leading complex, discipline-spanning projects. She directs the Urban@UW initiative launched in 2015 and co-leads the Lake Union Laboratory collaboratory research project. She also co-led, with Margaret O’Mara (History), an intensive, year-long Sawyer Seminar, “Now Urbanism: City Building in the 21st Century and Beyond,” underwritten by a grant from the Mellon Foundation, at the Simpson Center.
Watts, Chair & Associate Professor of French & Italian Studies, is a literary scholar who approaches the texts of former French colonies through the lens of the environmental humanities. His recent work examines water in the urban contexts of Fort-de-France, Port-au-Prince, Dakar, Algiers, and Ho-Chi-Minh City. In 2013, he co-organized the 2013 conference The Future of the Environmental Humanities: Research, Pedagogies, Institutions, and Publics at the UW.
Yocom, Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture, brings the perspective of a scientist and urban designer. He has taught a field course, “Reading the Elwha,” that tracks the ecological and cultural shifts created by the largest dam removal in US history. He is co-editor of Now Urbanism: The Future City is Here (Routledge, 2015).
UW guest speakers will include María Elena García (Comparative History of Ideas), Anne C. Huppert (Architecture), Linda Nash (History), and Sarah Culpepper Stroup (Classics). Additional visiting guest speakers will give lectures that are open to the public.
Participants will receive a $2,700 stipend to attend. An application process will begin in the fall, with a deadline of March 1, 2017. For more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Study: Perceived threats from police officers, black men predict support for policing reforms
At a time of intense national attention on law enforcement and race, a new University of Washington study suggests that racially based fear plays a role in public support for policing reforms.
The research, conducted by UW postdoctoral researcher Allison Skinner and published online July 12 in the open-access journal Frontiers in Psychology, used a series of experiments to gauge participants’ level of support for policing reforms in relation to whether they felt threatened by police officers or black men.
The study found that the degree to which participants viewed police as threatening was linked to their tendency to support reformed policing practices, such as limiting the use of lethal force and requiring police force demographics to match those of the community. By contrast, when they perceived black men as threatening, participants were less likely to support policing reforms.
“This speaks to the potential influence of racial biases in attitudes about policing policy reform,” said Skinner, a researcher in the UW’s Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences. “Racial attitudes are tied up into people’s policy positions and how they feel about these seemingly unrelated topics.”
This summer we are thrilled to be supporting the eScience Institute’s Data Science for Social Good (DSSG) program.
Modeled after similar programs at the University of Chicago and Georgia Tech, with elements from eScience’s own Data Science Incubator, sixteen DSSG Student Fellows have been working with academic researchers, data scientists, and public stakeholder groups on data-intensive research projects. This year’s projects specifically focus on Urban Science, aiming to understand and extract valuable, actionable information out of data from urban environments across topic areas including public health, sustainable urban planning, education, transportation, and social justice.
Topics being addressed this summer include a community based approach to improving accessible pedestrian way-finding, mining online data for early identification of unsafe food products, enhanced transit system operations and planning, and tool development for effective poverty estimation. For more information on the work being done this summer check out the DSSG project descriptions.
Now entering their 5th week, students with backgrounds ranging from applied math and data visualization to international relations and landscape architecture, are not only learning new approaches to data challenges, but interdisciplinary collaboration. Student fellows have been exploring new data science tools, as well as a broad range of ethical considerations with support from the Human Centered Data Science Lab. Read more about the fellows, and their reflections on the program as it moves forward on the DSSG blog.
Looking ahead to July, Recapping June
Looking forward into July - Unlikely Allies is coming to Seattle right after July 4th weekend.
Impact Hub Seattle is hosting the Unlikely Allies: Future of Cities Festival in partnership with the Impact Hub Company - the organization that coordinates the network’s 89 locations worldwide. More than 200 delegates from 70 cities will be joining us for this exciting event!
Unlikely Allies is a two-day festival that takes place in one new city each year, bringing together global and local thought leaders, change-makers, inspired citizens and their unlikely allies: the hackers, artists, policy makers, activists, corporate innovators and designers needed to make real change happen on key issues of our world today.
The full program agenda is available online and includes keynotes by Majora Carter (Startup Box), Carol Coletta (Kresge Foundation), Shayna Englen (Change.org), Jason McLennan (Living Futures Institute) - and master classes, think tanks and learning expeditions around the city focused on homelessness, arts + creativity, climate change and civic engagement.
Urban@UW compiles monthly recaps highlighting the urban research happening across the University of Washington.
Access To Nature In Urban Areas Is Key To Healthier Living
Mental illnesses and mood disorders are more prevalent in urban areas partly due to reduced access to nature, according to a new study.
Researchers probed the rising tension between the critical role of urban areas and these cities’ debilitating aspects that disconnect people from nature – and even raise mental illnesses.
“There’s an enormous amount of disease largely tied to our removal from the natural environment,” warned study author Peter Kahn of University of Washington, citing that children in megacities grow up without seeing stars and achieving feelings of “awe, restoration and imaginative spark” from it.
In their perspective study, Kahn and Terry Hartig from Uppsala University in Sweden pointed to signs that cities can cause emotional and mental strain on their residents.
The little or no contact with nature is creating so-called “environmental generational amnesia,” coined by Kahn to describe how new generations are concocting new ideas of what is “environmentally normal” based on their childhood experiences.
(Originally published by Tech Times and Katrina Pascual)
Q&A: CLPP’s Sam Méndez on Washington’s pot industry and how marijuana is becoming like wine
The Cannabis Law and Policy Project, based in the University of Washington School of Law, was formed by professor Sean O’Connor in fall 2014 to be a center for researching regulatory issues around the state’s new legal cannabis industry. The group recently published its first report for the Washington state Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB), which found that the amount of marijuana currently allowed to be grown by state-licensed producers in Washington is enough to satisfy both the medical and recreational marijuana markets.
The project’s executive director, , recently sat down for an interview with UW Today to talk about the report and the state’s rapidly evolving pot industry.
Q: Your study estimates that between 1.7 and 2 million square feet of marijuana plant production will be needed to meet Washington’s medical marijuana market. How did you reach that estimate?
SM: We had our phone survey of dispensaries, which produced a couple of figures we relied on, the two big ones being the estimated number of dispensaries in the state, 273, and the estimated average monthly sales of marijuana flower. From those monthly sales, we then estimated annual sales for the whole state. With those figures, we utilized other research to estimate the canopy, or square footage, of marijuana plants needed to satisfy patient demand.
Smoking marijuana is not the only way people use it. It can be consumed in a variety of ways, and we made three broad categorizations of these uses: flower, which is generally smoked, edibles and concentrates. We realized early on that not accounting for these other forms of use would create a big hole in our estimates. I think as time goes on, you’re going to see those being consumed more. A lot of people, particularly new entrants to the cannabis market, are concerned about the health effects of smoking, so I expect market share of edibles and concentrates to grow over time.
Q: What challenges were there in conducting this research?
SM: We had to learn as we went along. Something that the students and I learned as we were producing the report was the difficulty in generalizing edibles and concentrates. First of all, there’s a huge variety of products out there of varying size and prices, though most servings now contain 10 milligrams of THC. Second, these products are generally not made from buds — flower — they’re extracted from “shake,” or basically leftovers of the marijuana plant. This was just one of many complications in the calculations that we had to account for. There were other complications that, given the time and resources we had, we simply couldn’t account for.
Also, there was the challenge of finding solid data on what has long been a black market and a stigmatized market. How many dispensaries are in the state? That’s actually a pretty hard number to come up with. Other states have medical marijuana systems where product and stores are regulated and tracked, but for a variety of reasons that never really happened in Washington. So the state didn’t really know how many dispensaries were out there. Just about anybody could set up shop, put a green cross out front and start selling product.
The other challenge was what we could do with our limited time and resources. We had about three months to do it. It wasn’t just 273 dispensaries that the students called. We came up with 467 potential dispensaries. Some of those were wrong numbers; some had gone out of business. But we had to call every single one. Of the ones that we got no response from, we had to call back. It was 600 to 700 phone calls that the students had to make in those couple of months.
Q: Under state law, all dispensaries must convert to retail stores or close by July 1 of this year. What does that mean for dispensaries and their customers?
SM: Under the new laws, registered patients will be able to grow up to six plants on their own, and they can set up collective gardens. Aside from that — or buying illegally, which is still a significant issue — they will have to go to a licensed retail marijuana store. These new laws effectively end the medical marijuana system as we’ve known it by bringing it under the umbrella of the recreational marijuana system. Stores will have to get an endorsement by the state to sell medical marijuana. To date, about 80 percent of stores will have this. The LCB has capped retail licenses at 556 for the state. To date, 359 licenses have been issued, and 276 of those have reported sales.
One thing I’ve heard that has people in the medical marijuana community frustrated is that patients have to get onto a patient registry that the state government is setting up. Patients can possess a larger amount of marijuana and don’t have to pay sales tax on it. But some patients, at least, don’t want to be on some government list. There are also claims out there that the LCB is underestimating patient demand. I’m sure there are other complaints as well, and the LCB is doing the best they can to accommodate patients and the market as a whole.
Q: What does the change mean for the industry overall in the state?
SM: It’s transforming the entire market, so it’s going to change a lot. A lot of dispensaries have shut down, some have left the state, and many have converted to retail stores. That’s been going on for the last year or so. There’s a limited number of stores that can operate in each locality. For example, Seattle was recently allotted an additional 21 retail licenses by the LCB, far lower than the number of applicants out there. So not everyone, even if they were good actors, could get a license to operate.
The market right now is pretty volatile. But in the grand scheme of things, it’s going to settle down. You’re going to see a system that is now tracked and taxed, and the state will know in a way it didn’t before how many stores are operating, how much product is being sold and moved around, and how many patients are using product, at least in the legitimized system. Again, combating the black market will continue to be an issue.
Q: How much is the recreational market worth?
SM: According to the LCB’s dashboard webpage, total retail recreational marijuana sales for 2016 to date in Washington are nearing $850 million, compared with about $260 million in 2015. Certainly a lot of growth for one year. Give it five years. It’s going to be a lot bigger.
A report from ArcView in California estimates that the national market will grow from $7.1 billion this year to $22.8 billion in 2020 – three times as big in the course of four years. A number of people I’ve spoken to, policymakers as well, believe the horse is out of the barn — that this is not going to be shut down by the federal government. You already have 58 percent of the American public that is in favor of legalization. The federal government would be picking a big fight at this point if they shut down state-legal marijuana.
Q: Where is Washington’s marijuana grown?
SM: Most outdoor marijuana is grown in Eastern Washington, where there’s more sunlight and more cheap space. Indoor operations are all over the state, but it becomes a simple question of profitability. Where is real estate cheap? Indoor grows are not restricted by weather like outdoor grows are, but it’s a lot more expensive to grow indoors.
The advantage with indoor is you can do multiple harvests a year. You’re not restricted by the seasons and lack of sunlight in winter. But indoor operations take a lot more capital to set up. It takes a lot of money to set up a greenhouse and all the systems and equipment.
The price of marijuana is going down, and long term there’s no reason to think it’s going to go up again. One producer has told me the future of marijuana production is outdoors, simply because it’ll be so much cheaper to operate. He’s probably right.
Q: How do you see the market evolving over the next five years?
SM: I think the biggest change you’re going to see is the market divided into different price points. Some have compared it to the wine industry — on the bottom you have your cheap wine that is produced and consumed in massive quantities, and on the top you have the high-quality and expensive stuff. Different customers will be attracted to different parts of this spectrum.
The Washington market is also going to be affected by what’s happening nationwide. The big one that everyone’s talking about is California possibly going legal. That will transform the entire industry. California is the seventh largest economy in the world and is responsible for 80 percent of all marijuana grown in the United States. It’s easily bigger than all the other four legal marijuana states combined, and just about everyone in the industry thinks California will legalize it this year.
So that will affect the market in Washington, because as more states go legal you’re going to see less marijuana tourism. It’s going to be less of a novelty. It will affect the economy in a number of other ways too.
Q: So that’s not necessarily going to be good for the market here?
SM: Well, it depends on your perspective. Good for consumers? Probably. Cheap goods are generally good for consumers. A lot of people are not happy about this becoming a corporatized industry, and I think that’s something you can expect in the next five years. There are public health concerns too. I think you’re going to see a lot more investing in the market, and you’re going to see the system increasingly corporatized, which is to say you’re going to see some very big players, and that’s going to squeeze small businesses.
Anybody who had some notion that this would just be a bunch of local mom-and-pop shops is going to be disappointed. For better or for worse, we live in a country with some very large corporations that dominate our economy. For small businesses, being bought by those corporations is often the path to success. Is that a good or bad thing? It depends who you ask.
For more information, contact Méndez at email@example.com or 206-616-3920.
(Originally published by UW Today Blog & Deborah Bach)
Quick Recap: Here’s What Happened in May!
May saw a lot of wonderful events, visitors, and research coming out of the University of Washington community. Here’s a quick recap:
Seismic Neglect | In the first part of a continuing series, The Seattle Times examined officials’ neglect of the most vulnerable kind of building: old, brick structures called unreinforced masonry. Here are answers to some common questions about those buildings.
The Northwest is threatened by earthquakes far more destructive than anything Washington state has experienced in modern times, a danger lawmakers have largely disregarded. In the first part of a continuing series, The Seattle Times examined officials’ neglect of the most vulnerable kind of building: old, brick structures called unreinforced masonry.
Here are answers to some common questions about unreinforced-masonry buildings.
How do I know if my building is unreinforced masonry?
If you live in Seattle, search our map of unreinforced-masonry buildings identified by the city.
It’s not always possible to tell just by looking. Sometimes brick walls have been plastered over, and sometimes what appears to be solid brick is actually veneer. There’s a good chance a building is unreinforced if it was built during the 1940s or earlier. Another telltale sign: bricks that look shorter than others, about every sixth row, that are actually turned on end.
Some California cities require warning signs on unretrofitted, unreinforced-masonry buildings, but there’s no such requirement in the Northwest.
(Originally written by Sandi Doughton & Daniel Gilbert of The Seattle Times.)
Get Out of Jail Now, Now Pay Up: Your Fines are Waiting
When you’re convicted of a crime in America, it’s not just prison time you may face—there are fines, fees, and other cash penalties, too. And when you get out, they’ll be waiting. Plus interest.
The plight of “Kathie” symbolizes everything that’s wrong with this system, one that heaps a debt burden onto ex-convicts who don’t have the means to pay. Kathie (a pseudonym) was a 49-year-old ex-convict at the time University of Washington sociologist Alexes Harris interviewed her in 2009. She was sharing a three-bedroom home with three of her four children, her estranged husband, and his father.
Kathie left prison owing $11,000, but the sum had grown to $20,000 because of collection surcharges, private collection fees, and a 12 percent interest rate. She had a low-paying job that didn’t leave her a prayer of paying off the whole sum. “It seems like one of those challenges that are insurmountable,” she told Harris. “It’s like a paraplegic trying to climb Mount Everest.”
(Originally posted by Bloomberg News & Peter Coy.)
Seattle’s ‘Diverse’ Neighborhoods Are Surprisingly Segregated
Seattleites know they live in a racially segregated city.
White people live north; black people and Asians live south.
But there are a handful of neighborhoods that have become increasingly integrated in recent years – namely, Columbia City and the Central District.
But University of Washington sociology doctoral students found that those neighborhoods may not be so diverse when you analyze the area block by block. Tim Thomas, one of those students, started thinking about this after Columbia City was named the most diverse ZIP code in the country.
Reading List for Patricia Romero Lankao Visit 5/11
In anticipation of Patricia Romero Lankao’s visit we thought you might enjoy these pieces to get a feel for her research and thinking.
Water in Mexico City: What Will Climate Change Bring to Its History of Water-Related Hazards and Vulnerabilities?—This research paper delves into the history and evolution of water related risks and crises in Mexico City in order to gain insight to socio-environmental challenges as a result of climate change. http://eau.sagepub.com/content/22/1/157.full.pdf+html
Are We Missing the Point? Particularities of Urbanization, Sustainability and Carbon Emission in Latin American Cities —Models for change and the discourse of reducing greenhouse gas emissions is predominately influenced by the perceptions and disposition of high-income nations, particularly those in the Global North. This paper examines how these ways of thinking apply (or misapply) to the situation of Latin American cities. http://eau.sagepub.com/content/19/1/159.full.pdf+html
Urban Ecosystems and the North American Carbon Cycle—Modeling energy use, land use, and traffic emissions are already common practice, but how might including data about urban carbon sources and sinks expand our knowledge of how cities operate? Romero Lankao et al explore this question in order to understand urban areas as whole ecosystems with regard to carbon balance. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-2486.2006.01242.x/full
Dr. Patricia Romero Lankao studies the interactions between urban development and global environmental change. She is a social scientist at the Research Applications Laboratory and Institute for the Study of Society and the Environment at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. Dr. Romero Lankao is active in both the international and US human dimensions community, and views urbanization as both a social and environmental phenomenon, and one of the most influential irreversible and evident anthropogenic forces in the Earth system.
This presentation is part of the speaker Series on “Urban Environmental Justice in an Era of Climate Change,” hosted by Urban@UW in partnership with the West Coast Poverty Center, the Climate Impacts Group, the College of the Environment, the School of Social Work, and the Graduate School.
Urban@UW compiles monthly recaps highlighting the urban research happening across the University of Washington.
One Year On, Seattle Explores Impact Of $15 Minimum Wage Law
NPR’s Ari Shapiro talks with University of Washington Professor Jacob Vigdor about the state of the minimum wage in Seattle, as California and New York move to lift their minimum wages to $15.
ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:
Now, let’s dig deeper into what has happened in Seattle, one of the first big cities to pass that $15 minimum wage law. That happened in 2014. Joining us now is Jacob Vigdor, a University of Washington professor who’s running a city-funded study on the minimum wage law. Welcome to the show.
JACOB VIGDOR: Thanks for having me, Ari. It’s a pleasure to be here.
SHAPIRO: And so Seattle is phasing in the minimum wage law over time. It’s going to hit $15 an hour in a few years. So far, what have you seen with the wage hike?
VIGDOR: So far, as of January 1 of this year, the large employers in Seattle are now paying $13 an hour, and the smaller businesses get to pay a little bit less. So far, the impacts seem to be not too great here. We’ve seen some impacts on prices, but in terms of employment or other sorts of things, not too much.
SHAPIRO: So things are not costing a lot more. Employment is not dramatically dropping. It doesn’t look like people are getting laid off because of the wage hike. What about people who were making the minimum wage who are now making more money? Has it had much impact on them?
High Wire Acts: Knowledge Imperatives of Southern Urbanisms - The Johannesburg Workshop in Theory and Criticism offers us a more involved and critical look at the conditions and challenges of urbanism in Africa. This piece deftly explores theory and the challenges presented by emerging cities in the global South. http://jwtc.org.za/salon_volume_5/edgar_pieterse.htm
About Edgar Pieterse Professor Pieterse holds the South African Research Chair in Urban Policy and is founding director of the African Centre for Cities (ACC) at the University of Cape Town. ACC is emerging as the preeminent interdisciplinary urban research centre on the African continent. He previously served as Special Advisor to the Premier of the Western Cape Provincial Government in South Africa and directed a number of urban policy think tanks before his brief time in government. He is consulting editor for Cityscapes—an international biannual magazine on urbanism in the global South. His most recent co-edited books are: African Cities Reader III: Land, Property & Value (Chimurenga, 2015), Africa’s Urban Revolution (Zed, 2014) and Rogue Urbanism: Emergent African Cities (Jacana, 2013). Edgar is also on the Advisory Boards of: Indian Institute for Human Settlements, LSE Cities, the Gauteng City-region Observatory, Open Society Foundation of South Africa, among others. He has recently been appointed as co-lead author of the Urban Chapter for the International Panel on Social Progress. He serves as Chairperson of the Panel of Experts support the Integrated Development Framework of South Africa. More information at www.africancentreforcities.net.
Towards a Speculative Politics for African Cities with Edgar Pieterse - 4/12
Join us April 12 at Kane Hall (Room 120) for Visiting Scholar Edgar Pieterse, Please Register for this Public Event
Towards a Speculative Politics for African Cities
The available frames to understand and reimagine contemporary urban politics in the African context come down two divergent pathways: 1) build the institutional infrastructure to enact the deliberative model of urban politics as imagined within the prescripts of the Habitat Agenda, or 2) enact and sustain militant refusal against the political, institutional and cultural colonization of neoliberalism until a more just and socialist dispensation can be ushered in. This is a deliberately crude stylization to establish a basis for a line inquiry able to take completely different vantage point to these pathways, whilst keeping them in view. In this talk, Professor Pieterse will situate the vexing dynamics that bear down on most Sub-Saharan African cities as a starting point for thinking about the political imaginations and horizons that we should be delineating to get anywhere near a productive framing of urban politics, planning and design of, and for, our confounding times.
About Edgar Pieterse Professor Edgar Pieterse holds the South African Research Chair in Urban Policy and is founding director of the African Centre for Cities (ACC) at the University of Cape Town. ACC is emerging as the preeminent interdisciplinary urban research centre on the African continent. He previously served as Special Advisor to the Premier of the Western Cape Provincial Government in South Africa and directed a number of urban policy think tanks before his brief time in government. He is consulting editor for Cityscapes—an international biannual magazine on urbanism in the global South. His most recent co-edited books are: African Cities Reader III: Land, Property & Value (Chimurenga, 2015), Africa’s Urban Revolution (Zed, 2014) and Rogue Urbanism: Emergent African Cities (Jacana, 2013). Edgar is also on the Advisory Boards of: Indian Institute for Human Settlements, LSE Cities, the Gauteng City-region Observatory, Open Society Foundation of South Africa, among others. He has recently been appointed as co-lead author of the Urban Chapter for the International Panel on Social Progress. He serves as Chairperson of the Panel of Experts support the Integrated Development Framework of South Africa. More information at www.africancentreforcities.net. Sponsoring Departments:
UW Graduate School UW Alumni Association Cities Collaboratory Department of Landscape Architecture Department of Architecture Department of Urban Design & Planning Department of History Department of Geography School of Social Work UW Tacoma, Urban Studies African Studies Program
Edgar Pieterse is also a Walker-Ames Lecturer and a Cities Collaboratory Speaker.
Southern Urbanisms: Edgar Pieterse and Jean-Marie Teno (1 cr. seminar)
This microseminar addresses the emergence of global urbanisms and especially southern urbanisms, focusing on the dramatic urbanization of Africa and the resurgence of African urban studies. The course is coordinated with the visits of the influential scholar of African urbanisms Edgar Pieterse (University of Cape Town) and renowned African filmmaker Jean-Marie Teno. Their visit provides an opportunity to contemplate the politics, practices, and representations associated with Africa’s rapid urbanization, the specificity and diversity of African cities, and ways to plot different, more socially just urban futures.
Edgar Pieterse writes about urban policy and politics, urban inequalities, and everyday cultures in African cities to argue for politically engaged research and inventive analyses that span theory and practice. Jean-Marie Teno’s films focus on the colonial past and current neo-colonial conditions to explore the cultural values, social issues, and politics of Africa. Both of them take the complexity and dynamism of everyday urbanisms as their focal point, investigating the relationship between power, politics, and space while drawing attention to opportunities for positive change. Their different yet complementary modes of analysis offer rich possibilities to consider how we can create meaningful and diverse knowledge about cities in Africa and elsewhere.
Report By UW Labor Studies Student Details Music Industry’s $1.8 Billion Boon to Seattle’s Economy
A new study commissioned by Seattle musicians’ union and authored by Geography PhD student Megan Brown found that 16,607 people are directly employed in the city’s music industry, creating $1.8 billion annually in direct economic impact. Including jobs dependent on music, the industry creates $4.3 billion in economic output, supporting 30,660 jobs.
Yet despite a 50% increase in music-related jobs since the industry was last analyzed seven years ago, music payroll has risen only 12%, with payroll per employee actually decreasing by 25%. A survey of 124 working musicians found that while most earn the majority of their income through music, that music-related income averages only about $15,000 per year.
Part of the reason for this, the study found, is that freelance musicians often work without written agreements, and suffer from a variety of problems getting paid adequately for their work.
The study is entitled “Seattle’s Working Musicians: the economic impact of the music industry, working conditions of club musicians and how Seattle can support independent musicians.” The report was released Jan. 26 in a public meeting with the Seattle City Council’s Committee on Civil Rights, Utilities, Economic Development and Arts. It was authored by Megan Brown, a labor geographer and UAW Local 4121 member currently completing her PhD in geography at the University of Washington. Read the complete story on The Stand.
On January 29 Brown spoke with The Stranger newspaper’s podcast Blabbermouth about the findings of her report.
Brown has funding from the Harry Bridges Center for Labor Studies as well as an NSF Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement grant to study spatial strategies associated minimum wage policies in US cities. She is also involved in the Labor Studies Center’s Seattle Minimum Wage History Project, including building an interactive online digital archive.
Reading List for Dr. Mario Small’s Visit 2/25
In anticipation of next week’s lecture with Harvard’s Dr. Mario Luis Small we thought you might enjoy a few readings to get a feel for what exactly he is all about.
Mario Luis Small, Ph.D., 2001, Harvard University, is former Dean of the Social Sciences at the University of Chicago and currently Grafstein Family Professor of Sociology at Harvard University. Small has published books and numerous articles on urban poverty, personal networks, and the relationship between qualitative and quantitative social science methods. His books include Villa Victoria: The Transformation of Social Capital in a Boston Barrio (2004) and Unanticipated Gains: Origins of Network Inequality in Everyday Life (2009), both of which received the C. Wright Mills Award for Best Book, among other honors. Small is currently writing a book on the evolution of social support networks among graduate students and studying the formal and informal systems of support among low-income mothers in New York, Chicago, and Huston.
For details on the lecture see our events page here
Heterogeneity and American Ghettos with Dr. Mario Luis Small - 2/25
February 25th / 6:00-7:30pm / CMU 120
Dr. Mario Luis Small
Grafstein Family Professor, Harvard University
By the end of the 20th century, the dominant theories of urban poverty argued that U.S. ghettos had become isolated areas devoid of everyday institutions and disconnected from mainstream society. Dr. Small examines whether the conventional models have underestimated the extent of heterogeneity across U.S. ghettos and its consequences for the everyday experiences of those who live in them.
UW’s school of Oceanography is giving Google a run for it’s money when it comes to mapping the sea floor in the Puget Sound region. Learn more about the project using new multibeam sonar technology here >
SDOT‘s new DR 10-2015 goes into effect to protect pedestrians, but in general there is room for improvement in our country’s sidewalks. Read about obstacles for visually challenged pedestrians in Seattle here> and the inequality of sidewalks here>
Re-Imaging Urban Scholarship: Differencing the Data
Winter Quarter 2016 | HUM 597E | 1 credit, C/NC
Instructor:Thaisa Way (Landscape Architecture)
Friday, January 15, 12-1:20 pm (Startup Hall)
Friday, January 29, 12-1:20 pm (Henry Art Gallery)
Tuesday, February 2, and Wednesday, February 3 (Participation encouraged as feasible, Center for Urban Horticulture)
Thursday, February 4, 9-10:20 am (eScience Institute, Physics/Astronomy Tower)
Thursday, February 25, 6-7:30 pm (Communications 120)
Friday, February 26, 12-1:20 pm (Communications 202)
This microseminar explores how we might re-read cities by acknowledging and differentiating the data upon which we build our knowledge. As Lisa Graumlich (Dean, College of the Environment) recently wrote, “To imagine desirable, novel futures, we need to get even better at working at the boundaries between science and society. Now more than ever we need to build bridges with thinkers, who are shifting the political and cultural dialog, and doers, who are leading innovation in technologies, policies, and practices.” This seminar seeks to catalyze thorny discussions across disciplines and their data. Our purpose is to build a thicker intellectual foundation for engaging multiple audiences in the challenges and opportunities of urbanism in the 21st century.
After an introductory discussion on cities and contemporary urban research, we will convene around the visits of a series of important leaders in a diversity of disciplines. Beginning with an exhibit by the architect Keller Easterling (Professor, Architecture, Yale University), we explore her work at the Henry Art Gallery that questions the gifts or exchanges made between city governments and corporations suggesting the urban landscape as an economic site and commodity to be negotiated. In discussion with data scientist Charlie Catlett (Senior Computer Scientist, Argonne National Laboratory and Visiting Artist, School of the Art Institute of Chicago), we will investigate big data as a framework for what we can know about cities and urban systems. Finally, Mario Luis Small (Grafstein Family Professor, Sociology, Harvard University) challenges us to reconsider the heterogeneity of American ghettos in the contemporary city.
Students will write a one-to-two-page reflection on each of the three urban discussion topics: Corporations & Government,
Big Data & Sensors, and Heterogeneity & Ghettos.
Questions? Contact Thaisa Way, firstname.lastname@example.org.
UW project focuses on fines and fees that create ‘prisoners of debt’
Criminals are meant to pay their debts to society through sentencing, but a different type of court-imposed debt can tie them to the criminal justice system for life and impact their ability to move forward with their lives.
Though debtors’ prisons were eliminated in the United States almost two centuries ago, a modern-day version exists in the dizzyingly complex system of fines and fees levied against people as they move through the court system.
Offenders are charged for everything from DNA samples to electronic monitoring devices, jury trials and even room and board while imprisoned. The fees can add up to thousands of dollars, and those who fail to pay are routinely jailed.
Little is known about how such fines and fees differ among or even within states, but a new University of Washington-based initiative will provide new insight on the issue. , an associate professor of sociology, is the principal investigator of a five-year research project on monetary sanctions in eight states. The $3.9 million project, funded by the , will be the first systematic study of how multiple states implement court-imposed fees.
Urban Land Teleconnections by Luke Bergmann
Presented at June 1st Urban@UW Launch Meeting
UW Students put GIS Skills to Use on Social Justice Projects
Geography Students in Professor Sarah Elwood’s GIS Workshop course are applying lessons learned to projects with local nonprofits.