As part of the Global Urban Humanities Initiative Colloquium called Reading Cities, Sensing Cities we have asked students and visitors to write responses to each of the weekly guest lectures.
November 6, 2014
The Art of Change: Exploring Neighborhoods in Transition
Sue Mark (marksearch) and Anisha Gade (City and Regional Planning and Architecture)
Presentation available here.
Video of the conversation available here.
Mark and Gade discussed their project, Communities’ Crossing, a creative placemaking effort along San Pablo Avenue.
by Yasir Hameed
During Sue Mark and Anisha Gade’s presentation, it was stated that it is not possible for planners to create a sense of a place. True, it is impossible for planners to create a sense of a place from physical plans. However, it is possible to create an opportunity for a sense of a place to arise by mobilizing people and knowledge. Unfortunately, the traditional interventionist view of many planners inhibits their abilities to be catalysts for this type of change.
”In the myth of creation, order arises from chaos.” – John Friedman 
This line was used to describe the birth of “modern” systemic planning from the writings of Henri de Saint-Simon. It was an ingenious vision that society, through the means of several diversely-learned individuals (not known as planners until then), would be able to take control of its own destiny. From this I make a huge leap, but only to engage one’s interest and generate commentary.
”The process of creation is still going on, and man too takes his share in it, in as much as he helps to bring order into at least a portion of the chaos. The Quran indicates the possibility of other creators than God.” (Quran, ch. 23. v. 14: ‘Blessed is God, the best of those who create.‛) - Iqbal 
The idea of changing a place to be better for everyone, to be inclusive and representative of a positive rationality, should not be restricted to the profession of planning. Greater representation of philosophers, artists, etc. in planning processes would ensure a more positive change in communities.
Image courtesy of Sue Mark
Yasir Hameed is a candidate for the Master of City Planning degree at UC Berkeley.
1. Friedman, John. Two centuries of planning (1987).Page 52↩
2. Iqbal, Muhommad. Secrets of the self: A philosophical poem (1944)↩