[URBANTH-L]ANN: The City from Below (Baltimore, MD)

Angela Jancius jancius3022 at comcast.net
Wed Mar 18 13:24:48 EDT 2009


The City From Below

March 27th-29th, 2009
Baltimore, Maryland

(For more information visit http://cityfrombelow.org)

The city has emerged in recent years as an indispensable concept for many of 
the struggles for social justice we are all engaged in - it's a place where 
theory meets practice, where the neighborhood organizes against global 
capitalism, where unequal divisions based on race and class can be mapped 
out block by block and contested, where the micropolitics of gender and 
sexual orientation are subject to metropolitan rearticulation, where every 
corner is a potential site of resistance and every vacant lot a commons to 
be reclaimed, and, most importantly, a place where all our diverse struggles 
and strategies have a chance of coming together into something greater. In 
cities everywhere, new social movements are coming into being, hidden 
histories and herstories are being uncovered, and unanticipated futures are 
being imagined and built - but so much of this knowledge remains, so to 
speak, at street-level. We need a space to gather and share our stories, our 
ideas and analysis, a space to come together and rethink the city from 

To that end, a group of activists and organizers, including Red Emma's, the 
Indypendent Reader, The Baltimore Development Cooperative, campbaltimore, 
and the Campaign for a Better Baltimore are calling for a conference called 
The City From Below, to take place in Baltimore during the weekend of March 
27th-29th, 2009 at 2640, a grassroots community center and events venue.

Our intention to focus on the city first and foremost stems from our own 
organizing experience, and a recognition that the city is very often the 
terrain on which we fight, and which we should be fighting for. To take a 
particularly salient example from Baltimore, it is increasingly the case 
that labor struggles, especially in the service sector, need to  confront 
not just unfair employers, but structurally disastrous municipal development 
policies. While the financial crisis plays out in the national news and in 
the spectacle of legislative action, it is at the level of the urban 
community where foreclosures can be directly challenged and the right to a 
non-capitalist relation to housing can be fought for. Our right to an 
autonomous culture, to our freedom to dissent, to public spaces and to 
public education all hinge increasingly on our relation to the cities in 
which we live and to the people and forces in control of them. And our 
cities offer some truly inspiring and creative examples of resistance - from 
the community garden to the neighborhood assembly.

We are committed in organizing this conference to a horizontal framework of 
participation, one which allows us to concretely engage with and support 
ongoing social justice struggles. What we envision is a conference which 
isn't just about academics and other researchers talking to each other and 
at a passive audience, but one where some of the most inspiring campaigns 
and projects on the frontlines of the fight for the right to the city 
(community anti-gentrification groups, transit rights activists, tenant 
unions, alternative development advocates, sex worker's rights advocates, 
prison reform groups) will not just be represented, but will concretely 
benefit from the alliances they build and the knowledge they gain by 

At the same time, we also want to productively engage those within the 
academic system, as well as artists, journalists, and other researchers. It 
is a mistake to think that people who spend their lives working on urban 
geography and sociology, in urban planning, or on the history of cities have 
nothing to offer to our struggles.  At the same time, we recognize that too 
often the way in which academics engage activists, if they do so at all, is 
to talk at them.  We are envisioning something much different, closer to the 
notion of "accompaniment". We want academics and activists to talk to each 
other, to listen to each other, and to offer what they each are best able 
to.  Concretely, we're hoping to facilitate this kind of dynamic by planning 
as much of the conference as possible as panels involving both scholars and 

Preliminary List of Sessions:

Power to the Poor People':The Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign and 
struggles against Neoliberalism in Cape Town, South Africa
A View From Federal Hill, Revisited (David Harvey)
Baltimore's Human Rights Zone: Geography of Development and Resistance
Breakfast and tour of Participation Park
Casino-Free Philadelphia
Challenges in Radical Sustainable Living: A Look at Landslide Community Farm
Challenging the Urban Property Regime
Chicago 101
Children in the City
Class Stuggle and the Crisis: From Workers to Capital and Back Again
Community Land Trusts and Anti-Displacement Fights
Critical Urban Sustainability: Theory and Practice
Cultural producers and community organizers collaborating to combat 
privatization and gentrification
Design From Below
Dispatches Against Displacement
Education and Justice
>From Cities to Cells (and Back Again): The City and Incarceration
Gardening the city: SF Victory Gardens Project and Participation Park
Grassroots Community Struggles for Social Justice in the City
History of Urban Justice Organizing in Baltimore
Housing for the Homeless, Not the Speculators!
Know Your Rights to the City
Living Collectively in the City
Occupy and resist! Examining the European Social Center tradition
Opening Panel: Crisis and Resistance in the Neoliberal City
Organizing Models for Social Justice in the City
Participatory Budgeting: Public Control over Public Money
Rebranding the Urban: Tubman, Obama & the Welfare Queen
Refusing Crisis, Building Self-Reproducing Movements: Care-Centric Struggles
Represent Your City!
Resisting gentrification in the creative city
Resisting University-driven gentrification
Rustbelt Resistance: On Theory and Practice of Horizontal Organizing Where 
the State and Market Wither
Stopping foreclosures in Baltimore city
Systems and Cities: A Baltimore Case Study
Take Back the Land
The Master's Tools? Communities retaking local government and repurposing 
official planning rhetoric
The Region From Below
The Sharp Leadenhall Project: Countering Gentrification
Urban Struggles + Media Activism
Urban Sustainability
What They're Talking About When They're Promising Affordable Housing 

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