The Macaulay seminars have always been about our city and its different dynamics that makes it unique. This seminar however, was unique in its own way because it allowed us not only to learn, but to also shape our knowledge in ways to actually be involved in the city. The ‘Shaping Future of NY’ Seminar was about empowering ourselves as citizens and learning about our surroundings in order to be part of the change. This was an amazing way of ending the seminars. Though we spoke about the past and the present, we are all working on projects that will shape the future and prevent mistakes done in the past to be repeated again. I enjoyed every single topic discussed in this seminar (and found none of them useless or confusing towards the seminar goal) and I am glad to have learned so much that will influence my critical thinking, writing skills and morality as a citizen of New York.

Rezoning in Inwood

I found an article online from, Ahead of Rezoning Hearing, Inwood Groups Release Merged Platform. It was written in February about a  community plan for rezoning in Inwood, a neighborhood in uptown Manhattan. Abigail Savitch-Lew writes that the “Uptown United Platform, is a 16-page document that reacts to the Economic Development Corporation’s proposed rezoning of Inwood and proposes an alternative plan”. She goes on to talk about how this is the collective effort of many neighborhood community groups by name. She also talks about how much of the alternate plan is designed to protect current tenants and community interests. She also discusses how some parts of the plan can be taken positively or negatively by the mayor’s office. Part of the plan includes rezoning plans, and a big emphasis on “creating truly affordable and ‘community-controlled’ new housing on community land trusts, protecting small businesses, strengthening neighborhood infrastructure and making the neighborhood climate resilient”. From the other end, Savitch-Lew also addresses the plans of the original rezoning plan proposers, the Economic Development Corporation, which they say took into account a lot of community input. The alternate rezoning plan says that this isn’t as true, and that there wasn’t much plan to incorporate community input as heavily as suggested, saying that the “EDC had an idea of the general shape its final rezoning would take long before the final plan came out”. It’s quite interesting to see how these two plans interact with each other.

Continue reading “Rezoning in Inwood”

Community Land Trusts

Jane Jacobs believed that when planning and developing a city, the “character and liveliness” of the city had to be preserved (Zukin 220).  However, the type of environment that Jacobs was acquainted with has changed and, therefore, her conclusions should be reimagined. Jacobs knew cities as “urban villages”.  However, they have grown into cultural competition zones with “Destination Cultures” (Zukin 244). The cities with destination culture are built with money in mind. For example, large projects such as New York City Waterfalls by Olafur Eliasson gained $69 million dollars in just one year (Zukin 234).  This competing culture is apparent in not just large scale projects, but in everyday life including with housing. People with a low-economic status have to deal with raising rents as competing culture increases the value and cost of a surrounding neighborhood. One way to counteract this is through community land trusts.

Continue reading “Community Land Trusts”

Housing New York – Community Planning

Both Sharon Zukin and Tom Angotti conclude their books talking about a common approach to city planning; community based planning. Over the course of the NYC history of city planning, we have seen a more developer centralized approach, meaning that the city’s decision to zoning and building were heavily influenced by private developers. Such an example is the history of Robert Moses. Decisions of where and what to build in the city we’re not consulted with the residents of the neighborhood being affected. This practice, however begins to change, most noticeably by the help of Jane Jacobs and her book The Death and Life of Great American Cities. Years of conflict between the city, developers and the residents have led to community based planning. This approach includes the opinion of communities when it comes to rebuilding of the city in order to build a more diverse and accepting neighborhood. Zukin ends her book The Naked City with a powerful sentence that describes community planning as a way that “would strike a balance between a city’s origins and its new beginnings; this would restore a city’s soul” (246).

Continue reading “Housing New York – Community Planning”

Community Planning and a Need for Increase in Diversity for Community Boards

It is often debated on the impact a community has on the outcome of their own neighborhood or the power of the people to control their own city.  After all, public involvement is what democracy is built on.  As seen in Tom Agnotti’s excerpt, “From Protest to Community Plan” in his book New York For Sale, The Cooper Square committee, comprised of the residents of the Lower East Side, and their allies managed to dictate what a portion of the land in the Upper East Side would look like and on their terms, not the governments or the terms of developers. In the same way the New York Times article, “Greater Diversity Sought for New York City’s Community Boards” outlines the importance of community boards through cases where they have in fact made an impact in community planning.   The article not only vouches  for participation by residents in community boards but also for the increase in diversity of the publicly appointed board members themselves to include those that Agnotti calls the “few” in his chapter, “Community Planning for the Few.”  The article provides a nice summary for the two points brought up in Agnotti’s chapters.

Continue reading “Community Planning and a Need for Increase in Diversity for Community Boards”


In terms of preparing me and my group for the presentation, doing in-class presentations provided a great deal of help. We were able to condense our presentation into ten minutes, and be able to deliver a concise yet thorough explanation of our project. Through getting critiques from our peers, we were able to hone down on our issues in the presentation, and anticipate these same questions that will be asked by the moderators at the presentation. Anticipating counterarguments helped us to shape our argument, and answer the questions that were asked to us with ease and confidence. If me and my group can do the presentation over, we would try a bit harder to stay right on time

Feedback we received centered around focusing on how the public would interfere in the gentrification cycle. It allowed us to see a more clear approach must be given in terms of explaining the role of the residents of Long Island City. Feedback to other groups considered hyper-focusing on the role of education to help the residents of the city. This helped us consider future implications of bettering our research proposal.

Thought provoking ideas that other groups’ research projects centered around was the idea of opening a university to increase self-sufficiency in Red Hook. This would increase apartment buildings that can be afforded by college students, and younger adults. The influx of a university may also bring on a slew of restaurants, cafes, and more commercial businesses. I would give advice to future Seminar 4 students to focus more on a broad view of bettering the future of New York City, and make sure to be thinking of this idea each time you do a lesson during the seminar class. Takeaways from the conference and the experience, I personally feel, should be more centered together. Conferences of this sort allow Macaulay students to meet each other, but this conference did not allow for that. It would have been better to have a conference that was similar to Seminar 3, in which we propped our posters / presentations on display for all the Macaulay students to walk around. Upon a moderator’s request, we may be able to present to them. This would allow us to see and meet more students’ presentations, as this conference mainly sectioned us off into separate rooms to present to a small number of individuals.

This class, however, proved to be extremely insightful and one of my favorite seminar classes. It allowed us to see the city we live in, and decipher the movements behind who truly holds the power in this gentrification era we are prospering in. We are able to see the economic and political aspects of the leaders behind the cycle. This seminar will allow me to utilize the concepts and principles I have learned in the outside world, and inspect the workings of the political and economic background behind the zoning and urban planning changes made in the city.

So What More Can We Do?

Both Tom Angotti and Sharon Zukin towards the end of their books point out and discuss the significances of neighborhoods, how they were made and “destroyed”, and how community and advocacy continue to influence those communities. Quoting from Winona LaDuke, Tom Angotti mentioned “There is no social change fairy. There is only change made by the hands of individuals” (Angotti, 113).


Many times in this class we have discussed the issues surrounding a community, and what can be done in order to inspire change. According to Angotti and LaDuke, change can be made easier if people got together in their communities and spoke of their issues and advocated for them. All of this would be true, if many other sources stated that engagement is the key, not advocacy. It would also be true if organizing communities was the first step in advocacy campaigns. Written by Carole Mahoney, here are “8 Steps to Successful Grassroots Advocacy Campaigns”. These steps will be reflected by the Cooper Square Plan reported by Angotti and Jane Jacobs’s victory by Zukin. The steps go as follow:


Continue reading “So What More Can We Do?”

Is PLACES going places?

    Tom Angotti defines planning as “ a conscious human activity that envisions and may ultimately determine the urban future” (7). And by planning, Angotti is referring to the multitudes of different approaches urban planners have with the way they approach solving the political and personal divide present in residential problems. He stresses that progressive planning, urban planning that addresses communal efforts as legitimate and resourceful, is the best and less hostile variation. Most planners have some agenda, and that of progressive planners is to advocate for equality in local residential environments and to approach planning in a holistic manner. Angotti stresses three elements of strategic progressive planning: community land, the processes of conflict, contradiction, and complexity, and eliminating environmental injustice and gentrification in a cohesive manner. Community land should be approached by progressive planners in a way that asks who controls it and how can that be changed. Unfortunately, many community planners approach land use in a rash method that disregards prioritizing longevity and effectivity over solving their immediate problems. As a community, planners must form a discussion around access to land and how to ensure that there is equality in its accessibility. Angotti’s second element, understanding conflict within the process is about the contradictory structures of community, real estate, and finance, and how they must be planned around. He stresses the goal of ultimate democracy in the current system; consensus systems are not effective in that they completely disregard the losing idea and give power to the people whose idea “won.” His third element discusses the fear of displacement that comes with wanting to improve your community’s environment, and solving this must be an objective of community planners (Angotti 31). 

Continue reading “Is PLACES going places?”

What Really Matters in a City

Throughout the course, there has been a lot of discussion as to what ruins certain aspects of the city, such as community or infrastructure. I am also very interested in what makes a city great. Usually, a city’s outward aspects such as architecture, transit system, and food are the first to be evaluated. A city’s economy, housing, and opportunities are also very important. However, I’ve found in this course that protecting the people in the city and its culture are also very important in making the city great. These factors are much harder to see from the outside; some digging into the city’s policies and laws would reveal the truth. While the outward appearance of a city is always important, it is important not to overlook the residents that make up that city.

The public services and the protections that residents receive are examples of ways a city can take care of its residents. Connectedness is also significant factor in the quality of a resident’s experience of the city. It helps foster a sense of community, where residents develop bonds with one another. This class taught me a lot about what really matters in a city in a humanitarian aspect.

NYC: A City for Everyone

Who does New York City belong to?

New York City has always been viewed as a place of opportunity. It was this belief that attracted people from all around the world to pick up everything they had for a chance to have a better life. In current times, however, this belief has been exploited by the wealthy elites. They see New York City as an opportunity to display and grow their wealth, but don’t see, or at least don’t care, about the effects this has on everyone else. They want to the city to be a place for them, stripping New York City of the one belief that has made it the powerful melting pot it is. They care about the growth of economic value, but what about the growth of human value? Once an area of mostly undeveloped land and farms, the belief that New York City would provide opportunity allowed it to grow, so how can we believe we can continue to grow once that belief is gone?

Continue reading “NYC: A City for Everyone”