Common Field Session
Organized by Jia Gu/ Materials and Applications (LA)

OCCUPATIONAL HAZARDS (PART 2)
This topic is conceived in two parts

Many of us in the arts acknowledge and concede the role we play in the acceleration of gentrification. At the same time, gentrification is also a problem that has come to affect artists and arts organizations who themselves struggle to find affordable spaces. The mechanisms of gentrification (including rising rents, evictions, homelessness and displacement) are so complex that they defy any single cause and therefore resist any single perspective. Often, these mechanisms are so entangled that they often appear anonymous or at the very least un-navigable, especially as one begins to unravel the layers of urban policy, zoning / building codes, and economic pressures that produces unaffordability and displacement.

Community (Care) Plan
As described by the Department of Planning, “These Community Plans are the blueprint for guiding growth and development in the city. They reflect the communities’ desires for their neighborhoods and designate land for the range of uses needed in a community, including housing, jobs, transportation and amenities. The plans tell developers and homeowners what type of development will be permitted and the densities and intensities of that development along with infrastructure, and the services and facilities needed to accommodate planned growth.”

The Community Plan is a social contract between the governing municipality, its residents, and future developers. As a guiding document, it is the justification for market growths and specific planning decisions. Yet as a social contract, it is also open for input and interpretation. Engaging within the Community Plan by the community is one of the primary ways individuals or entities can participate in the planning process before any single development occurs. 

The session is conceived as a collaborative exercise where participants and facilitators will re-think the Downtown Community Plan. By incorporating the dimension of care within planning, and bringing in the theory of the commons as an alternative beyond binaries such state-market and public-private, the group will pursue to envision a new Community-Care-Plan for downtown Los Angeles. We will open with an introduction to Community Plans, provide a comprehensive/inspiring understanding of the theory of the commons by unpacking its multiple dimensions and begin to look closely on how to intervene in what is already being planned for 2040. 

This workshop is for individuals who want to get involved and affect the current direction of urban (or rural) development, those who want to gain an understanding of urban processes, who want to intervene in invisible systems of planning and policy, and who are seeking concrete and conceptual tools for effecting change in their built environment.

Some questions we hope to raise, though not necessarily answer: What is the desired Community Plan for Downtown Los Angeles? How do we add the dimension of care to community plans? How can organizers and organizations contribute to this? How do we begin to open a dialogue with urban planners about arts as a steward of urban processes rather than a filler of urban space? How can we as citizens repair a broken social contract? Can notions such as the commons facilitate processes of collective experimentation that allows to self-organize differently?