The ongoing demonstrations sparked by the murder of George Floyd have Americans considering as never before not just racial justice and police accountability, but also our public spaces.
Who owns our streets, sidewalks, and green spaces? Who is entitled to be there? Who feels safe there? What is the role of public spaces in the democratic process and movements for social change?
These are some of the issues we were trying to get at when we asked, early in the Strong Towns Strength Test:
They are also some of the questions at the heart of the most recent episode of Upzoned.
This week, regular host Abby Kinney, an urban planner in Kansas City, is joined by very special guest Kemet Coleman. Kemet is a rapper, entrepreneur, and urbanist in Kansas City. (He’s also the artist behind the Upzoned theme music.) Together, Abby and Kemet talk about what the demonstrations are revealing to us—or reminding us—about who owns our public infrastructure and why public spaces are at the crux of democracy. They talk about why a strong country starts with strong neighborhoods. And they discuss the dual function of public spaces right now, both in returning to normal (as with the “open streets movement”) and disrupting normal.
Then in the Downzone, Kemet talks about how he’s been staying busy during the COVID-19 crisis, including a four-album saga he’s working on. (Parts 1-3 are out now.) And Abby describes what it’s been like recently to experience her local parks at slower pace.