Embedded Planning at Columbia University

Mark Your Calendars, 11-29-22

“Embedded Planning is Worth The Struggle”

Columbia University, Lectures in Planning Series, in-person & online

By: Jonathan Pacheco Bell, MAUP+MLIS @c1typlann3r

Session excerpt:

In this time of increasing interrogation of planning’s legacies of inequity, planners are moving with intention to be better partners. And as part of repair and healing, planners are seeking more ways to build meaningful community #partnerships. No longer is technocratic rational planning the default.

But while the pivot to participatory methods helped democratize the planning process, professional practice still prefers project-based, one-off, transactional engagement.

Orthodox planning must evolve.

A better way is possible.

Los Angeles-based urban planner Jonathan Pacheco Bell urges practitioners to consider Embedded Planning praxis. Developed by Bell on the ground in South Central LA, Embedded Planning is a way to fundamentally restructure community engagement and practice. Embedded Planning means planning from the street, not from a desk. Embedded Planners work in the spaces and places of community members, building bridges with marginalized communities harmed by inequitable planning. Embedded Planning is a #praxis that puts theory into action to better this world.

Since Bell declared Embedded Planning exists in 2018, it has grown into an international movement among emerging planners. In this talk, Bell will show how #EmbeddedPlanning is being used to transform engagement into lasting community partnerships rooted in trust.

Community members have embraced Embedded Planning because they feel seen and included. Yet despite this praxis bringing ignored voices to the table, Bell encountered blatant #hostility from planning figureheads who judged Embedded Planning as “too political.” Through storytelling and personal reflection, Bell will illustrate the struggle to carry out Embedded Planning in the face of power. Attendees will learn the challenges and benefits of this unorthodox approach and understand why this praxis is the future of planning.

[… is that Kenny Uong on the cover?!]

Thank you, Mike Davis

When I abruptly quit architecture school in 1998 and was depressed and lost but found my way to critical planning practice, the book that got me there was City of Quartz.

Thank you and rest easy, Mike Davis.

We will keep up the fight.

South Central YLEAD

Infographic by South Central YLEAD at CDTech

This week I joined Youth Leaders Empowered Active & Diverse (YLEAD) at CDTech for a conversation on urban planning and gentrification in South Central LA. I shared my story of working on the ground supporting the community with tools and knowledge to preserve South Central history. We shed light on the importance of urban planning for a South Central future without displacement.

We Saw Ourselves in Cypress Hill

Representing Cypress Hill in my 1992 yearbook photo at Montebello High School

I wrote about the impact of Cypress Hill’s trailblazing self-titled debut album that dropped 31 years ago today, and explained why I represented them to the fullest in my 1992 yearbook photo at Montebello High School.

The #HipHopHistory microessay is on my Instagram (private but I add): https://www.instagram.com/c1typlann3r/

Excerpt:

“We saw ourselves in Cypress. They talked like us. We looked like them. Or tried, if you could grow a goatee.

This foolio went all in. I wore out that cassette tape. I grew a whiskery #brocha. I joined the Cypress Hill fan club, scoring stickers, newsletters, and the OG Cypress Hill t-shirt with the skull, weed, & globe in compass album cover on the front, and on the back it read: “The Phuncky Cypress Hill Shit.” The iconic gear got me suspended from Montebello High and gaffeled up by Magic Mountain security —“harassed by a pig real fast,” to quote B-Real.

When it came time for my 1992 yearbook photo, I had to represent. Vatos don’t smile ey. But I was moody too. The night before I’d phucked up my mustache trim. I cut it all off rather than leave it #chueco in the yearbook. I told myself that I was still down for mine. That’s not Johnny, it’s SKUZ ONE.”

Quoted in LAist on Student Debt

Image: LAist

I’m interviewed about the history of student debt in this excellent long form reporting by Julia Barajas at LAist. I thought about my urban planning students at Cal Poly Pomona and Pitzer College for this one.

Excerpt:

In May 2022, the Washington Post reported that White House officials were exploring the promised cancellation of $10,000 in student debt per borrower, but limiting efforts to people who earned less than $150,000 last year.

Opponents to this proposal can be found across the political spectrum.

Jonathan Pacheco Bell, an urban planner and adjunct professor at Cal Poly Pomona and Pitzer College, said he appreciates that Biden has not forgotten his campaign promise, but $10,000 is insufficient.

“It’s a way to split the difference so that you make some people happy and some people mad, but you’re not going to piss off the other side of the aisle, because you didn’t wipe away all the debt. It’s a very comfortable and extremely safe position,” he said.

Some of his students have taken on tens of thousands of dollars in debt, he added. “Meanwhile, the U.S. seems to be endlessly funding wars and other priorities with almost no hesitation, but it hesitates to invest in its own workforce.”

MLIS 2012 Thesis Proposal on Libraries in Florence-Firestone

Graham Library in Florence-Firestone on February 18, 2012. Photo by Jonathan Pacheco Bell

I recently stumbled upon the fact that my SJSU bepress page was deleted along with the link to my 2012 MLIS thesis proposal, “Libraries in the ‘Hood: A Social History of the Florence and Graham Branch Libraries in the Community of Florence-Firestone, 1912-2012.”

That’s a damn shame.

This work served as the basis for my 2015 chapter “Library History as Community History: Florence and Graham” in the book, A Paseo Through Time in Florence-Firestone, and it remains a local history resource for those who have it.

But it should be an accessible resource for any community member who goes looking for it. They shouldn’t hit a 404 error.

This was the impetus I needed.

I’ve added my Florence-Firestone MLIS thesis proposal to my Writings section on here.

With Edward Soja on Graduation Day at UCLA 17 Years Ago Today

Edward W. Soja and me on graduation day June 17, 2005 at UCLA Urban Planning. Photo by Jonathan Pacheco Bell

Edward Soja and me on graduation day 17 years ago today. Grad school was tough. I felt the weight of the neighborhood on my shoulders. I nearly dropped out 5 times, but Ed inspired me to stay and keep at it. My work with Soja would help me create Embedded Planning years later. The moral of the story: Find mentors who inspire you.

Keep the Flame Lit

The office of Edward W. Soja at UCLA Urban Planning after the 2015 In Memoriam celebration of Ed’s life. Before going home, I posted my “Epitaph for Edward W. Soja” to say goodbye, and to promise Ed that I would keep the flame lit. Photo: Jonathan Pacheco Bell

Congratulations to my fellow UCLA Bruin planners graduating today 👏🏽 You’re the next generation of planning. We’re in good hands.

Draw on our past to inform (y)our future. See the work of Edward W. Soja, Jackie Leavitt, Leo Estrada, VC Powe, Marty Wachs, John Friedmann and many others who rest in power.

Keep the flame lit.

In solidarity,
JPB @c1typlann3r

Reflections of the LA Uprising 30 Years Later

Still image from “Reflections of the LA Uprising” 30 Years Later

The 1992 Los Angeles Uprising began thirty years ago today — April 29, 1992.

I was interviewed for “Reflections of the LA Uprising” 30 years later. This is a collaboration by JOVRNALISM, USC Annenberg, KCET, and LA Times.

I shared how the unrest led me on a path toward urban planning in/for South Central LA. And I testified this path would inspire me to create Embedded Planning as an LA County planner on the ground in Florence-Firestone.

Rightfully, this interview was done at the landmark Roosevelt Park pedestrian bridge over the Blue Line.

Many community voices are part of this project. Check out the immersive video “Echoes of the Uprising” where we share our memories and oral histories.

Three decades later, we still have work to do.

Echoes of the Uprising

Mike The PoeT Sonksen at Cal Poly Pomona Urban & Regional Planning

Guest speaker Mike the PoeT Sonksen at Cal Poly Pomona Urban & Regional Planning. Photo by Jonathan Pacheco Bell

On March 5, 2022, Mike the PoeT Sonksen was the guest speaker in my Advocacy Planning course at Cal Poly Pomona. He taught us about geographic literacy and the power of place. Mike opened with poems, transitioned into a vivid slide deck lecture, then led our class through two writing exercises connecting personal memory and action to planning praxis. He stayed to co-facilitate our week’s discussion of Latin@ Urbanism.

Mike bleeds LA. If you’re looking for your next guest speaker, tour guide, essayist or poet, Mike is the one.

Embedded Planning in Job Interviews

Infographic by Jonathan Pacheco Bell

The latest instance of our Embedded Planning movement coming up favorably in a job interview.

We are everywhere.

We cannot plan from our desks.

Background image: The book I recommend to every critical planner and embedded planner — especially the Fortress LA chapter — is City of Quartz: Excavating the Future in Los Angeles, by Mike Davis.

Photo by Jonathan Pacheco Bell

Boyz N The Hood Turns 30

The Boyz N The Hood film and years of street reporting on NWA albums helped me become an urban planner in/for South Central LA.

I learned the word “gentrification” from Furious Styles’s speech on the street corner in Compton.