Creating Equitable Public Spaces Through Embedded Planning

Last month I returned to UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs to deliver my annual talk, “Creating Equitable Public Spaces Through Embedded Planning.”

This new version of the talk traces my trajectory in planning that has always included having feet on the street. With my background as a high school 90s graffiti writer as the jumping off point, the story follows my path after UCLA Urban Planning: creating #EmbeddedPlanning praxis in Florence-Firestone as an LA County Planner, advancing park equity at the Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust, returning to South Central LA to help launch the Florence-Firestone Community Organization (501c3), continuing my 20+ years of critiquing #HostileArchitecture, and now educating emerging critical planners at Cal Poly Pomona Department of Urban and Regional Planning.

My talk concludes with this message: Critical practice is possible. Move with intention to do it as a planner. How?

1/ Develop your own praxis
2/ Embed yourself in communities
3/ Reclaim public space

Voices of Equity and Embedded Planning

Recorded January 18, 2019 at American Planning Association HQ amidst our work on the national Social Equity Task Force. Since then, #EmbeddedPlanning has exploded onto the scene. And as my mentees will attest, I continue to big up Mike Davis’s City of Quartz: Excavating the Future in Los Angeles (1990). Start with the Fortress LA chapter. It’s a groundbreaking critique of #HostileArchitecture ⚔️

Creating Equitable Public Spaces Through Embedded Planning

On April 20, 2021, I delivered the guest lecture, “Creating Equitable Public Spaces Through Embedded Planning.”

It was originally scheduled for one graduate class at UCLA. By day’s end I added a second talk for undergraduates at Cal Poly Pomona.

The talk was created for the UP 279: Public Space Seminar at UCLA Urban Planning. This was one of my favorite courses when I was a student there. Professor Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris invited me to return as a speaker. She was my advisor in the MAUP (now MURP) program at UCLA, and taught this course back then too.

The presentation traced my work since graduation in 2005. I explained how I’ve created inclusive public spaces, and interrogated exclusionary hostile architecture, through street-level planning praxis.

The second talk was an evening presentation in Professor Alvaro Huerta’s course, Planning for Minority Communities, at Cal Poly Pomona Urban & Regional Planning. I appreciated the students welcoming this unscheduled event. Fun fact: I met Alvaro when we were both MAUP students in Anastasia’s Introduction to the History of the Built Environment course at UCLA Urban Planning.

Many students said that this was their introduction to the concept of #HostileArchitecture. Students continue to show excitement for the idea of Embedded Planning — planning practice on the ground. As always, I learned a lot from both Q & A sessions. Every question, comment, and critique advances Embedded Planning.