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ADDRESSING DIVERSITY : THE CONSTRUCTION OF COMMUNITY IDENTI F I ERS IN THE DEVON AVENUE STREETSCAPE PLAN BY MADHURI SHUKLA A THESIS Submitted to the Division of Social Sciences New College of Florida in partial fulfillment of the requirements fo r the degree Bachelor of Arts Under the sponsorship of Dr. David Brain Sarasota, Florida May, 2013
! "" ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS This thesis and the entirety of my education would not have been possible without the support of my family. Thank you for signing m y agenda every day of my elementary school career.
! """ CONTENTS Abstract ............................................................. .......... v Introduction ..................................... ..............................1 Concepts ................. ...................................................... 8 West Ridge .............................................................. .....19 Devon Avenue: History and Culture .......................... ..29 The Devon Avenue Streetscape Plan....... ............. ......... 39 Discussion ....................................... ...............................49 Conclusion........................................ ..............................60 Images..... ................................................................ ........ 68 Bibliography ..................................... ..............................74
! "# IMAGES Images of examples of community identifiers in other neighborhoods of Chicago, as well as initial drawings and computer generated images of Devon Ave nue community identifiers are presented after the text body of the thesis.
! # ADDRESSING DIVERSITY: THE CONSTRUCTION OF COMMUNITY IDENTIFIERS IN THE DEVON AVENUE STREETSCAPE PLAN Madhuri Shukla New College of Florida, 2013 ABSTRACT There is a difference be tween the way ethnic communities develop an identity through lived experience, and the explicit physical representation of that identity in public place making projects. This research examines the intersection of neighborhood identity politics, urban plann ing/design/art, and diversity, with a focus on. Through my experience as a participant observer on the design team of the Devon Avenue Streetscape Plan, I explore how place making initiatives can address ethnic diversity in the creation of community ident ifiers. Using the tension between use value and exchange value, I consider the potential for gentrification as a result of highlighting neighborhood distinctness. I propose that integrating and expanding the role of the artist in Chicago Department of Tr ansportation design teams can function as a means to transcend the contemporary role of community identifiers as neighborhood branding. This can be achieved through collaboratively designing more conscious community identifiers using models of collaborati ve public art that can foster a sense of place for subaltern communities. Professor David Brain Social Scienc es
! $ C hapter 1: Introduction A fundamental concept presented by urban scholar Jane Jacobs is the role of the city as an indicator of greater social trends in the United States. More specifically, Jacobs saw urban public spaces as means to observe the state of its society (Jacobs, 1961). Jacobs described users who she would call "actors" and "characters" of public spaces who engage in informal inter actions. She famously stated, "Lowly, unpurposeful and random as they may appear, sidewalk contracts are the small change from which a city's wealth of public life may grow" (Jacobs, 1961). These informal interactions foster reciprocal relationships among st neighbors, civic engagement, and cultural integration. I see these informal interactions as a fundamental characteristic of not only public spaces, but places. The term "place" can be defined as the relationship between a community and public space (C asey 1997). A place is defined by the fact that a community inhabits it "Place" is commonly defined in opposition to "space. A s pace is a purely geographical section of land. The phrase "a sense of place" is often used interchangeably with a feeling of belonging within a community, and an attachment to the physical space. These are powerful concepts with great implications. One such implication is increased civic engagement, as a result of a greater investment in the (people and space that constitut e the) place The Devon Avenue project is a top down initiative to represent the neighborhood identity in the streetscape, and a part of a greater city interest in neighborhood distinctness (City of Neighborhoods). The Devon Avenue Streetscape Plan raises the question of the relevance of race and ethnicity to the design of urban public space. My research is based on my work as a participant observer on the design team for this streetscape project. I
! % joined the team as an intern with the Chicago Public Ar t Group (CPAG), a nonprofit collaborative community art organization. The local artist on the design team of the Devon Avenue Streetscape Plan was a CPAG artist. I worked closely with the local artist, Tulika Ladsariya, and attended all private and publi c design meetings that required or invited the attendance of the artist. From this perspective, I was able to understand the extent of creative input and collaboration that occurred between the artist and the design team. I focus on understanding how pub lic place making initiatives can address ethnic diversity in the construction of community identifiers. This may be done through the use of sculptural design elements that embody a theme relevant to the identity of the community. My research focuses on r epresentation as the intersection of identity politics, urban planning/design/art, and diversity. This research has implications for our ability to address representations of diversity effectively The second chapter begins with a discussion of concep ts, focusing on the idea of place. This discussion will facilitate an understanding of Chicago's stated goal for streetscape plan s : to cultivate a sense of place. I use the framework of use value and exchange value, as defined by Logan and Molotch (1987) to categorize two ways of understanding the significance of place. I employ these economic terms, in part, to reject the common sentiment that neighborhoods either have a sense of place, or they do not. Instead this framework allows me to define a sense of place as a condition of living in a built environment which can have varying character and meaning for different people. The third chapter describes the history of the West Ridge neighborhood. After an understanding of the concepts and the history is established, the fourth chapter reviews the history and culture of the commercial center of West Ridge, Devon Avenue, using relevant
! & anthropological research. This chapter relates the anthropological research to my understanding of Devon Avenue as a plac e. The fifth chapter introduces the case of the Devon Avenue Streetscape plan, its stakeholders, their interests, the design team, and the process of designing community identifiers. The sixth chapter, the discussion, examines the link between place maki ng and diversity, as well as the role of collaboration and art. The conclusion discusses the implications of this work, and provides three recommendations for streetscape place making initiatives. In Chicago, highlighting "distinctness" of neighborhoods i s done through the use of community identifiers in streetscape redevelopment projects. These projects are executed by the Streetscape and Sustainable Design department of the Chicago Department of Transportation. As stated on their website, "The objectiv e of each project completed by the Streetscape and Sustainable Design Program is to create flourishing public places while improving the functionality of infrastructure to support dense urban living (CDOT, 2012)." In the case of the Devon Avenue plan, the intentions are presented as two specific reasons. The first is to cultivate a cohesive sense of place (CDOT, 2011). The second is best stated by the Alderman This upgrade to one of the most diverse streets in the City of Chicago will help businesses tha t are presently on Devon, and attract new stores to open" (50 th ward, 2012). The apparent use for community identifiers in streetscape plans is to create a cohesive theme for a commercial corridor that attracts residents to the experience of a distinct pl ace (CDOT, 2003). Th e Devon Avenue Streetscape Plan attempted to employ community identifiers to represent the local multicultural character. This public representation of multiculturalism is valuable to the preservation and celebration of local history and culture.
! Anthropologist Dolores Hayden stated (1997) that the built environment of the United States is characterized by "a traditional bias towards the architectural legacy of wealth and power (Hayden, 1997:8). 1 In this respect, more than a decade later, the state of the built environment remains the same. And while legible diversity in the built environment will not overturn an oppressive history, Hayden asserts that there is great value associated with representing subaltern communities in the pu blic sphere (Hayden, 7). She advocates for the public built environment to manifest public memory. She especially presents the importance of subaltern public memory, which she states is problematically less apparent. Particularly in the fight for inclu sivity, which would show that the individual histories of each person have merit, and no neighborhood is unwelcome to a particular person (Hayden, 237). Hayden 's approach to representat ion, emphasizing underrepresented groups, is my i deal approach to publ ic space design and art. The design team of the Devon Avenue Streetscape Plan (2011), as executed by the Chicago Department of Transportation, had the explicit goal to articulate and physically manifest the neighborhood identity as a tool for representat i on in a streetscape design plan. T his brings up unique challenges and raises questions of how if at all it is possible to represent diversity. C ommunity members expressing their own cultural aesthetic ident ity is quite different from having this articul ated by the designs that emerge as a tourism development strategy Because of this, and the fact that the character of neighborhood is not inclined to a single identity especially not based on exclusively outsider perception representing Devon's neighborh ood identity necessitates collaboration. Residents did not !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 1 Hayden does not provide a clear description of this a tmosphere. She describes it by talking about the lack of representation of women, Native American, Asian American, African American, and Latino populations.
! ( express a feeling that they were underrepresented in the built environment; in fact, the buildings on this commercial avenue were already exceptionally expressive of a multicultural identity boast ing international goods, foods, and services (smells, colors, and music also contributed to the overall experience of the street). This thesis is a critical examination of potential opportunities to employ public works projects, like a streetscape plan, in a socially engaged way that can bring subaltern communities to light. Philosopher Gayatri Spivak presents a complex and detailed definition of "subaltern" in Can the Subaltern Speak (1988). I employ the term "subaltern" as defined by Spivak because I f ind it more accurate, in this context, than a term like "underrepresented" because underrepresentation is a condition of the historical and social context that resulted in subaltern communities (1988). Spivak defines subaltern using a series of anecdotes that illustrate a lack of voice and removal from social lines of mobility. Subaltern voices are lost, or silent, because of a "logo centric" cultural inability to hear them without their translation into intellectual jargon that effectively silences the s ubaltern. Logo centric is a term Spivak employs to describe an academic cultural tendency to label and define phenomena and groups of people in potentially totalizing ways. Devon Avenue is the commercial center of the West Ridge neighborhood of Chicago's 50 th ward. West Ridge is home to a diverse community including Hasidic Jewish, Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Russian, Assyrian, Irish, and increasing numbers of Korean, Nigerian, and Sudanese people. Community identifiers, or physical design elements, are used in Chicago's neighborhood commerce streets to represent the local identity In the example of the Devon Avenue community there are added challenges of creating community identifiers that are inclusive to the entire neighborhood identity.
! ) Additi onally, designing community identifiers without a thoroughly collaborative process can function primarily as a branding of the neighborhood for outsiders. Branding the neighborhood in such a way can have negative effects on the community's identity by mer ely highlighting what sociologist Sharon Zukin describes as the distinctness ." Zukin asserts that initiatives to highlight the "distinctness" or unique local culture, of neighborhoods (especially those organized around local commerce ) often spur gentrif ication (Zukin, 2011). In many cases, branding neighborhoods can att ract tourists to both patronize and later settle in the neighborhood. These settling tourists function as gentrifiers by raising real estate values and driving out the original or authen tic 2 characters that once defined the neighborhood (Zukin. 2011). Tourists could "bend" commercial engagement to their interests, making the results not only economic gains, but also fundamental shifts of what gets produced and marketed, regardless of the sentiments of community members. This destructive process is not exclusively relevant to commercial centers where it can be understood as merely a result of market competition. Zukin uses the olive merchants of the ancient city of Pompeii, who in 74 BC E were central to civic life, as evidence to support her claim that commerce is the continuity of urban life (Zukin, 2011). The historical precedent of neighborhood commerce shows that the destruction of a sense of place is not necessitated by centers of commerce 3 Top down neighborhood branding efforts do pay attention to a neighborhood identity. And the branded community could be happy to see aesthetic improvements that have any !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 2 This use of "authentic" does not intend to imply that authenticity is exclusively a condition o f the old. 3 To clarify, economic gains are not always at odds with a sense of place.
! sort of consideration of their unique character However, top down brand ing can present a superficial understanding of the actual neighborhood identity. As a result, the community's civic character can be affected by a perceived loss of agency as well as a sentiment that what (they believe) defines them as a neighborhood has little value to the city. In diverse neighborhoods, branding efforts have to either embody diversity itself, or enact a collaborative process to gain an understanding of the community it seeks to represent. The built environment, as it stands today, does not always reflect the ethnic diversity of its inhabitants. There is powerful potential for streetscapes to reflect the local history and identity. Reflecting an individual or collective identity requires input of the represented population, so effectiv e representation is contingent on collaboration. By collaboratively designing, then erecting community identifiers, the community can live in a place where they are actively seeing, experiencing, and hopefully talking about forms that reflect themselves. Here we find a potential for social change that exists within diverse neighborhoods. If community identifiers were able to express a local history and identity then by this venue of exposure they would have the potential to create a more profound place attachment. An attachment and investment in the space has the potential to strengthen social bonds, place identity, investment in place, and work against a history of power that prevents the normalization of visually ethnic communities. Achieving this o utcome through public urban design projects in diverse neighborhoods, I argue, can only be accomplished through the employment of a collaborative process. Only through a collaborative process can an existing population actively contribute to the productio n of
! + their collective identity, given that this identity is grounded in values that they generate from their experiences within and with the built environment. Chapter 2: Concepts The 1996 documentary, Holding Ground: The Rebirth of Dudley Street details the history of the organization of the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative (DSNI) a famous case of highly successful grassroots mobilization (Lipman and Mahan, 1996). Here, the community was able to mobilize to gain e minent domain rights within their n eighborhood to directly address urban blight after decades of industrial, political, and racialized neglect. One characteristic of this case study remains salient to me the creation of a community mural (1993). The DSNI mural entitled "Unity Through Dive rsity," depicted actual community members, to highlight the African American, Cape Verdean, European American, and Latino populations of the community. The mural was a social process executed by citizens invested in their communities and significantly mor e invested after having the opportunity and agency to contribute to it. The concept, process, and collaborative self representation that DSNI was able to achieve is exceptional, and represents an ideal that collaborative urban design and art should seek t o embody. Before we can understand how art and collaboration function in streetscapes, we will explore space and place, urban design, and community. Space and Place Contrary perhaps to first appearance, space and place are fairly complex words. The Oxford English Dictionary gives over about two pages to space and around three and a half pages to place. Space is regarded largely as a dimension within which matter is located or a grid within which substantive items are contained. Along with its geographic me aning as "a portion of space in which people dwell together" and "locality," place is also a "rank" in a list (as "in the first place"), a
! temporal ordering (as in something "took place"), and a "position" in a social order (as in "knowing your place"). (A gnew, 2011) The above quote, by political geographer John Agnew, describes the distinction between the exclusively geographic "space" with no mention of the community inhabiting it an d "place" which is a live d space defined in part by social bonds The specific characteristic of place being where people dwell together implies a necessary existence of place at any intersection of people and the built environment, as well as a sense of attachment among inhabitants. Abstract social processes that characte rize place include a sense of belonging within the community and with the built environment, and the production of a local knowledge through the shared lived experience in one place 4 Contemporary practical applications of place include a simplification of the abstract process into a development strategy that focuses on the trinity of: walkable, livable and sustainable 5 communities. These development strategies seek to foster the social processes of a place, where the community can enjoy their neighborh ood and feel a sense of attachment with and within it but do not always aspire to the socially engaged art and design advocated by other scholars (Hayden, 1995). To provide a framework of understanding two means of valuing place I present the framework o f use value and exchange value. Use Value Interests In Urban Fortunes: The Political Economy of Place (1987) authors John Logan and Harvey Molotch present their thesis of the urban growth machine, which they state is !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 4 Place, and not space, because political boundaries do no restrict social processes, just as they would not limit the dispersion of other natural processes like smog. 5 Environmental and cultural sustainability though the former is usually much less resolved
! $! fueled by elites seeking material profi t by increasing the value of property (Logan and Molotch, 1987). The authors employ a framework of use values and exchange values of place. I use these two values of place as a conceptual framework to understand the intentions and implications of public urban design. This approach of using economic terms to understand the social and cultural context is especially relevant to the discussion of Devon Avenue, as a commercial corridor with a thriving multicultural character. Exchange value, which we see m ore prominently in American history, is the "utilization of property to generate profit" (Logan and Molotch as cited by Rudzhis, 2009:578). Exchange value functions as a quantitative measurement while use value is qualitative. Use values describe value s that individuals assign to property (Logan and Molotch as cited by Rudzhis, 2009:578). Investment in a place increases use values, while as Logan and Molotch say, "disinvestment lowers use values as building crumble, streets become less safe, and public health dangers emerge" (Logan and Molotch, 69). In this way, u se value s are associated with neighborhood identity, and state that value is attributed by the user. Exchange value and use value are not at odds ; however in the case of elites driven by exc hange value, their dominant interests have a tendency to conflict with the use value interests of other less economically powerful actors. Use values emphasize social characteristics in place of economic theories of growth and develo pment. The term, plac e, appears in most fields that study the relationship between humans and the environment including anthropology, sociology, environmental psychology, architecture, and geography (Cross, 2001). For the purpose of this thesis I adapt a sociological definit ion of place that transcends geographical location and extends to the types of social networks and activities that exist within a community. Like
! $$ s ociologist Ray Oldenburg, I employ "place" as a means to discuss a decline in community ties and attachment to the built environment (Oldenburg, 1989). Returning to the Logan and Molotch concept of the growth machine, the authors describe the powerful destruction of place (use value) executed through the pursuit of exchange value. The authors define the role of urban elites as actors seeking power and the enhancement of exchange value. The authors highlight the ability of the elites to maximize profits, often using strategies that argue that the support of their interests (in continuously increasing economic pr operty value) will effectively benefit the economic development of the entire city. In addition to economic development, these processes (that contribute to urban renewal) driven by the elites often have the effect of displacing and emaciating the use val ue of neighborhoods (Logan and Molotch as cited by Rudzhis, 2009:579). The implications of the destruction of communities through incentives to enhance exchange value can be especially problematic in the case of immigrant neighborhoods, which are characte rized by high use value. The Poli tics of Cultural Representation In The Power of Place Dolores Hayden bases her argument on the foundation that spatial design is indicative of social issues. The politics of identity however they may be defined around gender or race or neighborhood are an inescapable and important aspect of dealing with the urban built environment, from the perspectives of public history, urban preservation, and urban design. (Hayden, 1995:7) Hayden asserts that by looking at the share d history of a community, public works projects can bring to light the underrepresented histories of ethnic groups and create an inclusive and more equitable environment. She describes varied initiatives to unearth the
! $% identities and histories of subalte rn communities, and asserts that it is not sufficient to erect a statue of a Native American or take on a project empowering to women and "assume that preserving urban history is handled well" (Hayden, 1995:8). It can be said that she rejects the tendenc y for civic monumentalism and advocates socially engaged art and design. Furthermore, she states that the tendency for dozens of different organizations to advocate subaltern projects separately is not a sufficient means of resolving the "traditional bias toward the architectural legacy of wealth and power" (Hayden, 1995:8). The implementation of collaborative methods of urban planning, design, and art are critical to Hayden's cause of organizing a public culture inclusive to subaltern communities, because the collaborative framework supports or at least hears the demands of the residents. Inclusive, and collaboratively created, urban design and public art can have a uniting effect by engaging the community in dialogue, establishing agency and an increase d understanding of neighbors, history, and relationship with space. Empowering the identities and histories of subaltern communities is not only ethical, but valuable for citizens invested in safe, inclusive, and diverse cities By fostering a place atta chment and a sense of belonging within a community, subaltern communities can feel more invested in the places where they live This would optimally result in increased civic engagement, as people mobilize not only to protect, but to better their neighbor hood. Urban Design Philosopher Lambert Zuidervaart described the role of public art as something that "addresses questions about who occupies the space, how they experience it, and whether and to what extent they are allowed to help share public space" (Zu idervaart, 2010). I believe this extends to urban design and planning in the public realm, because here
! $& Zuidvercaat shows the relationship between public space and public representations of neighborhood identity. He also emphasizes the extent to which co mmunities are "allowed" to help share space, which brings us to the role of collaboration. Collaboration Planning and design that aims to oppose the gentrifying forces as described by Zukin requires a collaborative approach. Planning for public spaces is planning for every inhabitant, this spotlights the importance of incorporating the users that for whatever reason lack the ability (due to pressures of time and money) or power (social influence or political knowledge and experience) to engage in public d ecision making processes and conversations. A more inclusive consideration of all relevant interests will strengthen the expert and outsiders understanding of the community identity and character. Planning processes seeking this level of collaboration can not just accommodate public involvement, but must instead actively solicit and enco urage it. Large scope projects with multifaceted approaches that exceed physical development and involve cultural planning will be more successful when engaging wider publi cs and positively affecting use value. My advocating cultural planning entails "the integration of arts and cultural resources with civic visioning programs; and the balancing of the inherent conflicting nature of past, present, and future social values" as is laid out by the American Planning Association (Souce, Hodgson and Beavers, 2013). The time component here is especially important, as neighborhoods evolve over time in some instances by destructive and displacing forces of gentrification use value evolves as well. Cultural planning, inherently more concerned with the shifting and subjective value standards of use value, can accommodate these inevitable changes over time more efficiently than exclusively exchange value oriented
! $' physical development planning, which uses a standard economic value system. An example of an inclusive process that can begin to understand the use value of a place to the people who occupy it is presented by planning theorist John Forrester, who emphasizes the va lue of parti cipatory planning. 6 Chicago's Department of Transportation believes community collaboration is critical to creat ing community identifiers. Using the concept of use value, it is valuable to understand the potential value of collaboration in the context of Devon Avenue, a community characterized by high percentages of new immigrants. Community: Immigrant Neighborhoods The research of anthropologist Kathleen Bubinas emphasizes the economic value of use value and a sense of place in regards to the introduct ion of immigrants into the workforce of an ethnic 7 economy, in an ethnic neighborhood like a Chinatown or Little Italy. In The Commodification of Ethnicity in an Asian Indian Economy in Chicago (2003), Bubinas focuses exclusively on immigrant employment i n the ethnic economy of a segment of the Little India neighborhood on Devon Avenue. In this anthropological approach, she studies the urban environment, local ethos, and history of the place to contextualize the economic behavior. By taking this approach Bubinas highlights the importance of a strong sense of place, or high use value, to immigrant employment and the consequentially increased potential for economic success in the new nation. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 6 I will discuss components of his methods in the Discussion. 7 This usage of ethnic might appear to categorize whiteness as non ethnic. The terms "ethnic neig hborhood" and "ethnic economy" are used here for consistency with the terms used in the research of Kathleen Bubinas. In this thesis I generally employ "immigrant" in place of "ethnic," because I believe this better represents Devon Avenue's high percent age of residents born outside of the US, as well as it's growing number of refugee families.
! $( The general consensus among researchers is that ethnic economie s are inclined to employ immigrants, and play an important role in the establishment of immigrants in a new nation. The disagreement emerges in discussing whether the employment (based on ethnicity and condition of being an immigrant) "affords advantage o r abuse" (Bubinas, 2003). Immigrant employment in ethnic neighborhoods can potentially provide a positive opportunity based on community, or lead to exploitation by means of reduced wages and barter systems that are characteristic of an informal economy. Bubinas contributes to this debate by studying the Asian Indian Ethnic economy on Devon Avenue. Bubinas employed a walking survey to identify 107 Indian owned businesses, (organized them by type: Cuisine, Sari, Jewelry, Video, Electronics, General ethn ic merchandise, and Grocery) from which she chose a representative sample of 22 to observe and interview. Though she does not detail the ratio of Indian owned businesses to other businesses, she does emphasize the permanence and historical presence of the Indian ethnic economy by stating that in 2000, more than half of the Indian owned businesses were established in the mid 1980s (Bubinas, 2003: 202). Bubinas found that many merchants were inclined to hire co ethnic immigrants because of their ability to bridge the language barriers with the target audience, engage in ritualized bargaining, and have knowledge of regional clothing styles (Bubinas, 2003). What sets this research apart from other ethnic economy studies is her study of a (then) less explore d sociological discourse which suggests that "the significance of ethnicity as a vehicle for immigrant employment is define d by the urban environment and ethos in which the ethnic economy is situated" (Bubinas, 2003). This statement asserts that the pr evalence of hiring new immigrants in ethnic economies is not only based on an
! $) advantageous set of indigenous knowledge, but the use value of the ethnic neighborhood that employs the new immigrants in the ethnic economy. Bubinas states that the ethos 8 o f the et hnic or immigrant neighborhood i s many times characterized by relatively few language barriers for new immigrants, informal economies and barter systems (that can accommodate or disservice), and increased religious accommodations and infrastructure (Bubinas, 2005 and Sen, 2012). For example, many stores and restaurants on Devon Avenue, like Ghareeb Nawaz (translating into "poor/cheap man's food"), designate prayer spaces within the business (Sen, 181). Businesses with religious accommodations like these exist in many major American cities, and usually especially in businesses with late hours and affordable food that are frequented by cab drivers (Sen, 181). Ethnic neighborhoods, as Bubinas shows, are attractive for business. Today Devon Avenue is a Midwestern destination for many residents and tourists seeking authentic culinary experiences, elaborate Asian wedding dresses, various other international goods and services, and to consume the experience provided by the atmosphere of the place (Rangas wamy, 225). Immigrant neighborhoods like Devon Avenue recreate international cultures in a new city, the benefits of which contribute to the use value of a place. The construction of a local commerce economy services the residents through characteristic informal economies (I will expand on this in the description of the research of Kathleen Bubinas), as well as creates an attractive "authentic" identity that gives the neighborhood valuable political and !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 8 The ethos could be loosely understood as the character of a neighborhood, and a potential component of the use value
! $* economic attention (Bubinas, 2005: Zukin, 2010). R ecreating cultures is a big part of the support system within which actors potentially have shared experiences and perspectives, co ethnic and immigrant commonality, and religious support all of which contribute to the use value of place (Bubinas, 2005: S en, 2012). However, the authenticity of the economy and character of this neighborhood can be undermined by outside efforts to brand the neighborhood. This is because branding the neighborhood without insider insight is a process of picking out features of the place that stand out, or in other words, an outside imposition of exchange value on the collective insider's use value. Branding neighborhood distinctness can have potentially destructive effects (Zukin, 2010). Gentrification of Authentic Commerce In Naked City: The Death and Life of Authentic Urban Places (2010) Sharon Zukin describes the current obsession with authenticity in the United States. Authenticity, in this sense, is a description of what cultural consumers in a city seek out, realness: a South Indian restaurant with a "real" South Indian chef and "real" imported spices or the example she uses, a music bar with sawdust covering the floor. Cultural consumers, as Zukin states, consume art, food, images, and eventually real estate (Zukin, 2 010: xiii). Cultural consumers bring discriminating tastes to authentic neighborhoods, shifting the consumer audience in a way that can result in a consequent shift in the composition of the neighborhood commerce: through the emergence of higher price ra nges in businesses and retail, new goods and services (like cafes and art galleries that cater to cultural consumers), as well as increased real estate value (Zukin, 2010). Zukin observed that the introduction of large numbers of economically elite outsid ers in an authentic neighborhood will in effect economically drive out the original actors (in the case of Devon Avenue,
! $+ today this would be the 1960s and 70s wave of immigrants) who created the neighborhood, hence causing the demise of the authenticity th at attracted the gentrifiers in the first place. Furthermore, she implies that this gentrification is understood by economic elites and is enacted intentionally via the use of a fictional authenticity. Fictional authenticity is an exploitative approach th at involves manufactured "bits and pieces of cultural references," such as fake graffiti on a building faade or Americanized Asian food. Because the lack of authenticity of these fictional cultural references is sometimes unknown to the outside cultural consumer audience, these piecemeal symbols have an attractive effect for gentrifiers. Fictional authenticity creates a comfort zone where the cultural consumer can reap the benefits of an exciting ethnic identity that is packaged in a familiar commercial form. I believe the fictional application, exactly because of its inherent inauthenticity, can be likened to a top down approach to public art and design that excludes community collaboration. This is a foreboding potential outcome for Devon Avenue, wher e cultural consumers are attracted to its identity as an authentic international marketplace. Sociologist Sharon Zukin states: "Cities are built on commercial culture and the economy of commerce. That means that stores are a part and parcel of city and c ity lifeStores are where we create the intelligence of urban life and this has always been a part of the history in cities (Zukin, 2011)." As stated in the introduction, Zukin uses the example of Pompeii's olive merchants to illustrate the historical pre sence and continuity of commerce in urban life. Zukin implies that there are many approaches to studying urban consumption spaces, which can be grounded in a variety of perspectives. I follow Zukin's own approach which views consumption spaces, such as s tores, restaurants, and bars, as potentially a means to create
! $, an authentic urban identity, although there can be a tension between authentic identity and the efforts to use cultural difference to brand/market urban space (Zukin, 2011). In studying the co mmercial center of Devon Avenue, I opt for the latter approach with a careful emphasis not to imply that commerce and exchange value is necessarily at odds with use value. Now that the relevant concepts have been presented, I introduce the historical con text for the site of the case study, the West Ridge neighborhood. Chapter 3: West Ridge West Ridge, eight miles north of Chicago's central business district, is one of the most ethnically diverse neighborhoods in Chicago, with 42% foreign born residents (Chicago Community Areas Historical Data, 2012). This far north region experienced large scale international immigration in the latter half of the twentieth century. West Ridge maintains its position as a hub of immigration today identified as one of Ch icago's top "port of entry neighborhoods" (Paral and Norkeqicz as cited by Bubinas, 2003). West Ridge is a multicultural enclave that is unique in Chicago's urban history, where ethnic communities shift, but historically remain somewhat exclusive to one g roup (Pacyga, 1995). Instead, West Ridge has become a shared territory for a range of ethnic groups, including but in no way limited to: Hasidic Jewish, Russian, South Asian (most populous: Indian, Pakistani, and Bangladeshi), Middle Eastern (Iraqi, Syrian Lebanese and Irani), and Croatian people. Though Devon Avenue is colloquially known for its "Little
! %! India" or "Indiatown the community (more accurately, the local Aldermanic office and neighborhood organizations) self identifies as a multicultural, "i nternational marketplace." And residents work to preserve the multicultural environment, as evidenced by the South Asian American Policy and Research Institute (SAAPRI)'s research: "Our immigrant story" and "Memories and Milestones" completed to preserve the contemporary history. As highly diverse neighborhoods are still a rarity in t he United States, these history keeping efforts could prove valuable. Richard Wright and Orvil Dryfoos recently published their research indicating that cities in the United States are simultaneously increasing racial diversity while some forms of segregation persist: "newly arrived immigrants continue to settle in concentrated residential patterns, and many African Americans remain concentrated in segregated neighborhoods" (W right, 2012). West Ridge's center of commerce, Devon Avenue displays a trend of "spatially integrated" but "socially segregated" (Pacyga, 1995). This is not to say that there are defined lines of segregation, there are not a peaceful atmosphere (for at least the sake of business) appears to be the shared priority: "Muslims, Jews, Christians, Sikhs, and Hindus live, worship, and conduct business cheek by jowl on Devon Avenue in apparent harmony" (Rangasway, 2006:221). Nevertheless, in traveling the leng th of Devon Avenue distinct sections are evident. For example, between Ridge and Western on Devon is a concentration of Assyrian, Middle Eastern, and South Asian -predominantly Pakistani -culture. The neighborhood's primary attraction is the abundance o f international, imported goods, such as jewelry from India, Belgium, and South Africa. The local culture is apparent in the types of stores, the availability of goods and foods, the smells, and the
! %$ people who gather on street corners. 9 All five senses are engaged in the aesthetics and experience of the street, an indicator of the social history of the landscape ( Hayden, 1995:43). In Chicago: The Immigrant Capital of the Heartland, the authors John P Koval and Kenneth Fidel assert that the primary attrac tion of Chicago was, and is, its economic opportunity. By the 1960s Chicago was no longer the international symbol of industrial power that it had been in the 1920s. Post 1960s Chicago was transformed by a time of rapidly expanding globalization and dein dustrialization driven by technological advances (Bubinas, 2003, 200). Many corporations were shifting to multinational and transnational models, which caused the displacement of previously urban domestic jobs to the suburbs, other states, and other natio ns. The feasibility of suburban working class life led to a large exodus of residents (Bubinas, 2003). As a result, in 1965 the Hart Cellar Act was passed, marking the beginning of large scale Asian (mostly Indian) migration to the US 10 This a ct faci litated immigration to the US with strong preference for professionals who would be able to contribute specific occupational skills to the new mixed economy (as opposed to the previous manufacturing economy) (Bubinas, 2003:200). These immigrants were well educated, middle to upper middle class professionals, such as doctors, engineers, and academics (Rangasway, !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 9 Gathering on street corners provides amp le visual simulation by being a point from which the activity on potentially four corridors can be seen. Corners also host street furniture usually two benches and additional space for residents to bring their own chairs, or stand. 10 The Hart Cellar Act w as the main legislation shaping the second of two major phases in immigration to the US in the first half of the twentieth century. The first phase, as marked by the Displaced Persons Act of 1948, provided a brief two year opportunity primarily for Easter n European immigrants and refugees. The Displaced Persons Act was relatively small in scale and short in duration in comparison to the Hart Cellar Act
! %% 2006:222). Chicago became a hub for a major wave of professional, young, Indian immigrants. Before the Hart Cellar Act (1950 and 1960s) the West Ridge neighborhood was constituted predominantly by Jewish and Irish Catholic immigrants of Russian and Polish decent (Rangasway, 2006, 228). Following a period of initial hostility towards new Indian immigrant residents, there was a large shift of the J ewish population to the suburbs. The original Jewish territory became dominated by the new South Asian immigrant group (though not exclusively, a large Croatian population also began to emerge on the scene) (Bubinas, 2005). Anthropologist Kathleen Bubin as interviewed one of the first Indian businessmen on Devon Avenue, and he recalled, "This area was considered good because the Jewish retailers had developed it and it was clean and well taken care of." He went on to describe Devon Avenue as a "safe neigh borhood" with "decent looking shops" where "good size stores were available at competitive prices" (Bubinas, 2003:165). The 1970s also brought Southern and Eastern Europeans as well as Middle Easterners to West Ridge. These immigrants were often seeking r efuge from conflict, which later included the 1980 1988 Iran Iraq war. West Ridge proved especially attractive to immigrants because of the affordable housing and (semi)inclusive public transportation access to the Loop [see image]. Most immigrants at th is time were still skilled, financially stable, former urbanites, and because of this, they had a great deal of agency in deciding where to settle (Bubinas, 2003:201). In the two decades following the 1965 Hart Cellar Act a second wave of Asian Indian im migrants arrived, relatives sponsored by the first wave, that expanded t he
! %& workforce to include working class positions such as shopkeepers, factory workers, taxi drivers, and retail clerks (Bubinas, 2005:164). This second wave saw opportunity in the alrea dy established South Asian population of skilled professionals, and began to provide ethnic goods and services. Bubinas asserts that merchandise and specifically the availability of one synthetic cloth brought to Chicago by pioneer Indian entrepreneurs wa s the origin of the Indian ethnic economy on Devon (Bubinas, 2003:201). The coveted synthetic cloth was made in Japan and Hong Kong and unavailable in India, which made it a status symbol for Indians in America. Pakistani and Bangladeshi populations arrived soon after the establishment of Indian communities. A populous concentration of Croatians in West Ridge emerged followed by the Croatian Cultural Center. In recent years there has been a growing population of Nigerian and Sudanese immigrants. Ad ditionally, West Ridge has functioned as a haven for refugees, since the first wave in 1975 of ethnically Chinese refugees from Vietnam (WBEZ, 2013). In 1975 housing was very affordable, in West Ridge, with 30 percent vacancy, and since this time the neig hborhood has functioned as a hub for refugees (WBEZ, 2013). Neighborhood Character The Project for Public Spaces is an international nonprofit dedicated to fostering public spaces as a means to build stronger communities, and founded on the work of pione er of urban sociology William Whyte. The Project for Public Spaces (PPS) identifies Devon Avenue as a "Great Public Space" and states:
! %' Every evening groups gather on the corners of Devon Street, each of which is like a community gathering space for the people who live in this mostly South Asian neighborhood. Chicagoans come from great distances to dine out at one of the many restaurants here, but the street has managed to retain its identity and strong social fabric rather than giving way to the pressure s of gentrification." (PPS, 2012) The groups that gather on Devon's street corners are anywhere from 5 20 people, generally of the same gender, ethnic background, and relatively similar age. 11 Many people, in spite of the lack of street furniture the resid ents -miraculously still motivated to gather on the street bring portable chairs from their homes, or rest on windowsills and stoops [see image]. One example of a daily gathering occurs on the corner of Mozart and Devon where Syrian male elders congregate after work daily at about six o' clock. These frequently reoccurring, numerous, and peaceful gatherings are a testament to the community's capacity for collective action. Sociologist Ray Oldenburg identified the "problem of place" (1991) in the United States as the increasing scarcity of the sense of belonging and connectedness (that stereotypically characterize the small town community). The foundation of these feelings being fundamentally tied to informal public encounters and, though this, the forma tion of a civic cultur e that characterizes the place. Oldenburg coined the term and popularized the concept of third places' in the 1980s. Third places are informal gathering places where social, interpersonal, needs are met f or example, bars and coffee shops, where patrons or staffs are familiar and regular. The first two places, that necessitate the third place, are a person's home and work, respectfully. Public third places allow for informal interactions with strangers who !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 11 Heterogeneous street gatherings may exist, but these are not acknowledged in the literature, nor were they apparent in my observations.
! %( are potential neighbors a s well as interactions with familiar characters. Oldenburg states that the sociability that characterizes third places is critical to community vitality and democracy: "They are the heart of a community's social vitality, the grassroots of democracy, but sadly, they constitute a diminishing aspect o f the American social landscape (Oldenburg, 30). The loss of third places, according to Oldenburg is indicative of a great decline in the social and psychological health of an individual and community, as well as the health of the democracy -which depends on civic engagement. For many residents, Devon Avenue functions as all three places as defined by Oldenburg (residential, professional, recreational); some live in the residential side streets, work in loc al shops or offices, and spend recreational time gathering on the Avenue. This is not uncommon, especially in American immigrant neighborhoods. The city of Boston published Immigrant Engagement in Public Open Space: Strategies for the New Boston in whic h the following testament to the value of public spaces in immigrant communities is stated: Many of Boston's immigrants spend their early years struggling to adapt to a new society in which they feel marginalized by language and cultural differences and a t risk due to uncertainties around employment, education, and housing. It is in this context that people use public open spaces to gather in ways that remind them of their home country. In these spaces, they can meet friends and family facing similar chall enges and offer one another advice and support. (Lanfer and Taylor, 2005) I believe this is a use value of public space for the new immigrant community of Devon Avenue.
! %) Potential Conflict In 2000, the population of foreign born residents in West Ridge ha d risen to 44 percent, and competition for niche international goods and services became fierce: "crime, safety, and congestion became leading issues, while business owners struggled to reinvent their products to meet the needs of a shifting clientele" (Ra ngasway, 2006:225) 12 Anthropologist Padma Rangaswamy posited that it was a shared understanding of peaceful relations being critical to the economic success and development of a commercial center that maintained the neighborhood harmony (Rangaswamy, 200 6:225). The harmony among businesses persists, but is not necessarily indicative of harmony across class, religious, and nationality barriers. The Jewish population, for example, remained divided: "Russian speaking Jews stay aloof from Polish Jews; and the orthodox Jews do not even speak to the reform Jews" (Rangaswamy, 2006:222). Factions amongst the Pakistani and Indian communities also exist, as racial, ethnic, religious, and class differences within the South Asian population add further complexity. There is a history of conflict related to racial and ethnic identities, but community leaders have been effective in pacifying conflict on the corridor. In The New Chicago former Alderman of the ward, Bernard Stone, described an instance in 1992 when a Muslim shrine in India was demolished and lead to outbursts of crime and conflict throughout the world. Stone described the community, Hindus and Muslims, immediately coming together and organizing to protest violence in general (without taking a positi on) and thereby preventing conflict on Devon Avenue. The peace protests were disrupted by !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 12 This quote is referencing the ethnic and racial shifts in the population
! %* Pakistani youth, who were made to leave by community elders. Stone also recounted: "Another time, after the Pakistani Independence Day parade, when Pakistan had jus t gone nuclear, some kids tried to incite Indian merchants by driving up and down the street with cardboard nuclear bombs on the top of their cars. We called the Pakistani elders and appealed to them, and they cut off the trouble where it started" (Rangas wamy, 2006:226). Due to the fact that the various groups are cohesive, clear leaders appear who sometimes hold an authority and work peacefully to solve and prevent crimes within the neighborhood, without police enforcement. For decades potential racial conflicts have lurked beneath the apparent harmony, appeased by the community's most valuable asset its ability to organize. The segment of the Devon Avenue communities which is able to attend public meetings, engage in charitable and civic endeavors, and organize around local issues of place and identity, has been critical to the political and civic culture. Grassroots organization and a strong system of social networks have enabled residents to sustain the local culture. Anthropologist Padma Rangaswamy states that "there are local Assyrian, Pakistani, and Punjabi gangs, but like other local inter ethnic tensions, their activities have been sufficiently subdued not to attract widespread attention" (Rangaswamy, 2006:227). Relative to other areas of Chicag o, Devon Avenue is considered a low crime area (Rangasway, 2006:227). It could be that the tolerance necessary for coexistence in the neighborhood has actually drawn out a greater degree of peace in the region. Gangs do, however, remain a point of concer n. This was most drastically evidenced by in 2010 when almost all of the benches on the Avenue were removed to keep gangs from occupying the space (WBEZ, 2010). The impact of the bench removals has not been studied. This
! %+ bench removal process illustrat es Devon Avenue's historical ability to work collaboratively regardless of ideological, religious, and racial differences as evidenced by frequent and successful Alderman initiated public meetings, neighborhood organizations, and mobilizing grassroots acti on. The general sentiment seems to be that the gangs are not feared as much as the history of hate crimes in the neighborhood. In my time on the Devon Avenue, I observed red spray painted swastikas with anti Semitic message on the street. The most ha rrowing hate crime in the history of West Ridge was committed by white supremacist Benjamin Nathaniel Smith in July of 1999. Smith's shooting rampage started in West Rogers Park (another term for West Ridge), 13 home to the largest population of orthodox J ews in Chicago, and left two men dead and six wounded (Rangaswamy, 2006:227). A peak in the community's fear of hate crimes was post 9/11 as the locals, especially Sikhs, feared they, or the five mosques and one gurdwara in West Ridge, would be targeted ( Rangaswamy, 2006:227). The entirety of Devon Avenue was filled with American flags as both a patriotic response to 9/11 and a fear motivated action to protect themselves against hate crimes (Bubinas, 2012). Interestingly, a decrease in hate crimes was n oted immediately following 9/11 (Rangaswamy, 2006: 227). In spite of the community's perception of hate crimes, the majority of crime today is domestic abuse and violence towards women (Rangaswamy, 2006:227). The disparity between perception and reali ty in this case is apparent, and it is import to highlight that the community's fear and perception of a threat !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 13 West Ridge and West Rogers Park: the boundaries of the 50 th ward (which this thesis studies and refers to primarily as West Ridge) are Ridge in the east and Kedzie in the west. Rogers Park is the neighborhood east of West Ridge. The neighborhood west of Ridge is widely called West Ridge by locals, but sometimes referred to as West Rogers Park.
! %, is equally as valuable as the statistical crime data. This is an important concept for urban planners and designers collaborating with communit ies. Understanding the perception and experience of community members (or at least the value and impact of this perception) is critical to the successful reception of a project. In other words, it is instrumental to seek the public's perspective based on lived experience of their neighborhood, or the use value of the place. Based on the history of interethnic collaboration and harmony on Devon Avenue, it would appear to be an exemplary location for collaborative and representative urban design. Chapter 4: Devon Avenue: History and Culture In The New Chicago: A Social and Cultural Analysis Devon Avenue is used as a case study of an example of a self conscious and politically engaged neighborhood making efforts to sustain or strengthen its neighborhood lif e (Bennett, Demissie, and Garner, 2006). In this book, twenty six contributors analyze the social, political, demographic, economic, and cultural change in Chicago. Anthropologist Padma Rangaswamy contributes a chapter entitled, "Devon Avenue: A World Ma rket." Rangaswamy begins with a brief history of immigration to Devon Avenue, but quickly moves on to focus on the neighborhood's role as a world market as opposed to a South Asian market. She emphasizes the uniqueness of Devon Avenue as a shared territo ry, especially in Chicago where new immigrant groups occupy a space but typically exclusively, as one homogeneous identifiable racial and ethnic background (Rangaswamy, 2006:222). Though urban homogenous neighborhoods are rarely entirely homogenous, the
! &! a uthor is emphasizing the uniqueness of the level of diversity and the overt expressions of multiculturalism on Devon (Suttles, 27). She goes on to state that: "The fallout from this international identity is that City Hall has little interest in improving or reshaping the built environment since, unlike Chinatown or Bronzeville, it does not fall neatly into an identifiable ethnic category" (Rangaswamy, 2006:222). Rangaswamy does not delve into why she believes the city is deterred from development in het erogeneous neighborhoods, though I would be very interested to have a deeper understanding of the foundation of this perception. It could be that she believes a multicultural neighborhood requires a deeply collaborative and extensive process, for which th e city does not have the time or money. The residents see neighborhood promotion as a means to clean up the street (or as Rangaswamy states, "solve the sanitation issue"), and this is represented as a primary motivation to engage in tourism planning. R elative to other streets, Devon Avenue is not especially dirty, though there is work to be done: landscaping repair and upkeep is necessary, litter gathers along the curbs (because business owners sweep the trash out to the street) and tobacco spit stains walls. However, it is interesting that the residents seem to believe that top down planning and funding may only come in an effort to make the neighborhood attractive for tourists and not the residents. On the other hand, it could be that the residents a re functioning within the current framework of streetscape plans (being only executed in commercial areas) to argue that cleaning the streets for their community is financially beneficial for the economic development of the entire city. However, the auth or notes that the topic of tourism (as a means both to attract potential customers and to solve the sanitation issue) arises regularly in public meetings and is conveyed as follows: "If you look at Chinatown or Argyle Street, the City has made it very attr active for
! &$ tourism. We need the same thing a gateway or an arch by Western and Devon" (Kalayil and Maniar as cited by Rangaswamy 2006:227). However, this specific example illustrates a grassroots sentiment that I believe based on my experiences with the strong local civic pride represented a desire to landmark the neighborhood. The author describes a plethora of reasons that visitors are attracted to Devon, some of the most salient of which are bargain shopping and specialty produce. Rangaswamy states th at people of various nationalities, religions, and income levels are coming from various distances (side streets and suburbs, to out of state and even international) to patronize Devon Avenue (Rangaswamy, 2006). According to Rangaswamy, a large part of wh at has kept Devon so attractive is its ability to change and stay aware of fashionable trends. In the nineties it was the Japanese synthetic cloth that attracted South Asian consumers, but as that cloth became more widely available, retailers shifted to meeting other needs, including Bollywood videos and imported jewelry. Rangaswamy discusses the cultural diversity of the neighborhood and businesses in the context of globalization. In terms of globalization, West Ridge functions as an indicator of the i nevitable highly diverse neighborhoods of the future making further research in the neighborhood potentially beneficial to understanding forthcoming challenges associated with planning for multicultural communities. The author makes the point that on Devo n Avenue, local is global (225). Though retailers are local, goods are predominantly internationally imported. Another indicator of a more direct impact of global events here is that foreign policy and international events have a massive impact on the W est Ridge community, and international civic engagement is practiced. This is evidenced, in part, by fundraising raising efforts like those made by the Croatian
! &% community when there was war in Serbia (Rangaswamy, 226) and the number of refugee aid organi zations that accommodate refugees in the neighborhood (WSLR, 2013). Another example occurred in 2001 for earthquake relief in Gujarat, India. The outpour ing of support was so strong that the relief site was named "Chicago Township" (Rangaswamy, 2006). However, the international relief work and cultural diversity occur in tandem with clear stratification and divided interests, which further complicate the traditional religious, racial, class, gender, and linguistic barriers. Rangaswamy and Bubinas highlight two especially large social divisions The first is a split between old and new immigrants, which add inter ethnic tension that further fractions the community, though this is not necessarily a negative divide, given the history of older immigra nts functioning as a kind of local peacekeeping authority (Rangaswamy, 2006: Bubinas, 2012). The second divide is between the merchant population and the residential population. The trend in Devon is for merchants to move to the suburbs once they have g ained a certain level of economic success. However, in spite of the residential relocation, many merchants remain active in local social and political life gathering on street corners after businesses close, and attending public meetings. Patel Brothers, one of the first South Asian owned business on Devon Avenue (early 1970s) is praised by community members because, like many other local businesses, it provides financial and social support to local initiatives (Bubinas, 2012). Business owners experience and impact the neighborhood's use and exchange value, though the divide in interest emerges as a result of their prioritization of exchange value. For example, I observed that merchants were staunchly opposed to the introduction of trees on to Devon Avenu e, as this would limit visibility of business signs and
! && advertisements. Residents on the other hand, stand to benefit from the shade and do not oppose the introduction of trees. In terms of community development, merchants require an appeal to their econ omic interests and the corridor's exchange value. Padma Rangaswamy also found that there existed in 2006 a strong shared sentiment in the community that the city had not invested in Devon Avenue, and is specifically negligent of the community's "sanitatio n issue" (Rangaswamy, 2006: 227). The sanitation issue is understood relatively, by comparing Devon Avenue to other streets in Chicago (Argyle Street, and the streets of Chinatown) that have clean streets with community relevant gateways, and is very attr active for tourism. One community leader, Irv Loundy, stated "It's not a secret that this community hasn't received all that much benefit from the City" (Rangaswamy, 227). In spite of perceived governmental neglect, the community sustains local peace, s upports local business, and engages readily in local politics. Rangaswamy ends her essay with the statement that the complex socioeconomic processes at play on Devon are indicative of a strong commitment to democracy (Rangaswamy, 2006). This is a good ind icator that the neighborhood would bode well with collaborative processes. Community Organization: SAAPRI Padma Rangaswamy was a founding member of the South Asian American Policy and Research Institute (SAAPRI) that is located on Devon Avenue. 14 SAAPRI i s a !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 14 Rangaswamy's role in the research institute ra ises some methodological concerns, especially regarding peer review, if her case study (Devon Avenue: A World Market) is grounded in her own research. Rangaswamy's personal investment in the place may have influenced the representation of Devon Avenue.
! &' nonprofit that works to create and inform socially responsible policy, as well as contribute to equitable methods of community development. SAAPRI conducts research, assembles information, and publishes studies that aid in the better representation of South Asian in public policy and projects by providing insight into the Illinois South Asian community strengths, weaknesses, issues to address within the community, and opportunities to be aware of when working with the community. An example of a weakn ess and opportunity identified by SAAPRI is the limited English proficiency that characterizes many immigrant families, and functions as a barrier to voting 15 and other forms of civic engagement. The organization also identifies education regarding civic engagement as a local need. SAAPRI's research primarily studies and serves the West Ridge community, and intends to function as a self representative institution of the South Asian community. SAAPRI's research is especially relevant because Indian Asia ns are by far the largest group of Asian Americans in Illinois, and the largest concentration of Indian Asian Americans is in West Ridge (SAAPRI, 2009). In 2011, SAAPRI published research in the journal Tourism Planning & Development (Borrelli and Kalayi l, 2011). Nunzia Borrelli, a Chicago architect, collaborated with Ann Lata Kalayil, the co director of SAAPRI, to write "Tourism and Planning in Chicago, The Experience of Devon." The paper discusses Devon Avenue in the context of cultural and tourism p lanning in Chicago. The authors describe a shift in Chicago's planning strategy toward a large scale investment in tourism, which places beautification as a primary concern in local urban planning. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 15 In addition to "access to quality health care, education, and social services."
! &( Borrelli and Kalayill focus on the goal of tourism plan ning to coordinate tourism with the activities of the local residents. The authors then apply tourism planning to the context of cultural planning and tourism. The essence of cultural planning, in this context, is understood as "strategic use of cultural resources for the integrated development of cities, regions and countries" (Borrelli and Kalayil, 2011). To clarify, methods of cultural planning include the use of public art and urban design to beautify and "empower the ethnic identity of every neighbo urhood" (Borrelli and Kalayil, 2011). The authors describe the intention behind empowering ethnic identity in the built environment as both to attract foreign tourists and Chicago residents. The more conspicuous motivation is fostering economic developme nt by branding and marketing ethnic identity, which nods at diversity and ethnic identity, while really offering a reductive idea of community. The authors do not discuss the impact of these identifiers, or branding public art and urban design, on reside nts of communities, because their focus is tourism analysis. In 2006, as a result of initiatives in the South Asian Chicago community, SAAPRI collaborated with local institutions 16 in order to create a long term comprehensive plan that addresses and resol ves the issues residents identified on Devon Avenue. These issues include traffic congestion and street sanitation. Borrelli and Kalayil's research outlines the entirety of the community organization and the collaborative process, which involved creating a group of community members dedicated to the development of this place. The group was created as a result of a series of interviews with community leaders and individuals "in a position to shed light on how a diverse neighborhood such as Devon !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 16 The Indo American Center, the Indo American Democratic Organization (IADO), and the Indo American Heritage Museum (IAHM).
! &) Avenue cou ld plan for economic improvement" (Borrelli and Kalayil, 2012:352). The group aggregated issues and concerns to address in the comprehensive plan, these included economic concerns regarding local business, aesthetic and cultural concerns regarding signage and festivals, and issues associated with crime and a lack of affordable housing. Community members also suggested the establishment of a South Asian American museum, 17 which would according to SAAPRI "Enhance Devon Avenue's role as a vehicle to promote t he South Asian heritage and identity" (SAAPRI, 2005). The plan essentially aimed to create a more cohesive Indiatown. The strategy of this grassroots plan (2012) was to achieve economic growth through tourism development, which would entail: "improving b oth the physical environment, i.e. security, cleanliness, traffic, and promoting cultural initiatives such as the Indo American Heritage Museum" (Borrelli and Kalayil, 2012:355). The plan, however, had major problems, the more salient of which the authors identified as the problematic use of "diversity" and "multi ethnicity" interchangeably. Although the plan functioned to accommodate multi ethnicity, it did not provide an equitable representation of all minority groups, and the Indiatown vision also disr egards the many other ethnic groups in the neighborhood. Borrelli and Kalayil use Richard Florida's "creative class" concept to come to the conclusion that in order for any grassroots community action --this redevelopment plan included to be put to action the local creative class needs to collaborate with politicians. Florida's 2002 concept of the "creative class" refers to the class of people who can drive !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 17 There is a Swedish American museum in Andersonvi lle next to a famous and thriving Swedish restaurant, Ann Sathers, that may be indicative of the potential success of this idea.
! &* economic development through their occupations that require them to create and innovate -for examp le, academics, engineers, computer programmers, and artists (Florida, 2002). Borrelli and Kalayil deem that the primary barrier to the execution of this plan is the community's lackluster relationship with local political power, or more specifically: "onl y by working with politicians is it possible to find the resources to realize projects" (Borrelli and Kalayil, 2012:355). The creative class of Devon Avenue, however, is only a segment of the community. And furthermore the dominant driving force behind this redevelopment plan is the South Asian community, which again is only a segment of the entire community. It appears that the South Asian population's civic engagement has become very influential as a result of their massive population, commercial pre sence, and ability to organize and engage in local politics. This is important to keep sight of in considering community collaboration in West Ridge, because the participants who represent the community are likely significantly more representative of the South Asian segment of the neighborhood, rather than the entire neighborhood. Specific outreaching and more inclusive tactics need to be employed, such as the use of the Croatian Cultural center as a venue where Croatian and other minority populations may be more inclined to attend. Ethnic Economy Bubinas completed two ethnographic studies on Devon Avenue published in City & Society and both focus exclusively on the Asian Indian population. The first, The Commodification of Ethnicity in an Asian Indi an Economy in Chicago (2003), focuses on immigrant employment in ethnic economies and is discussed in the Concepts chapter. In
! &+ 2005 Kathleen Bubinas published the second, "Gandhi Marg : the social construction and production of an ethnic economy in Chicag o." "Marg translates into "road" in Hindi, and Gandhi Marg is one of Devon Avenue's 22 honorary street names of international political and religious leaders. The space between California and Western on Devon Avenue was officially named "Gandhi Marg" in 1991. This paper (2005) can be considered an extension of the first paper (2003), in that it focuses on "the theoretical implications of the ethnic economy beyond purely economic considerations" (Bubinas, 2005). But this paper is less concerned with the current processes in the ethnic economy, and more interested in the origin, or the use of space by the Asian Indian community. In this second paper, she aims to contribute to the understanding of the process of transformation of a space, into a place wit h a distinctive identity in an ethnic community (Bubinas, 2005). She uses Devon Avenue as her site because the Asian Indian community here resisted assimilation by organizing and engaging in subaltern community action. Her research concentrates on the three "possibilities" provided to Asian Indians by Gandhi Marg today: "a location for Indian place making, the experience of community, and a site for political power" (Bubinas, 2005). The conditions that facilitated this are tied to the Hart Cellar Act (1965) that brought the Asian Indian immigrants whose professional skills allowed them to combat discrimination in the labor market and settle financially comfortably in West Ridge and go on to invite relatives in a second wave of immigration). Because it was economic opportunity that was attracting already upper middle class Indians to Chicago as opposed to fleeing a home nation as a result of conflict the immigrants "did not reject their past
! &, but made it very much a part of their present, trying consci ously to recreate it in their new environment" (Bubinas: Padma, 2000). Community members care about history keeping, as evidenced by SAAPRI's research and the community centers like the Croatian Cultural Center, as well as the expressed desire for a Sou th Asian American History Museum (SAAPRI). Community members are proud of their place as evidenced by my experience with reveling residents as well as the community's historic ability to mobilizing for civic cause s (Rangaswamy, 2006). Community members h ave maintained peaceful interactions in the face of deeply polemic international relations evidenced in part by the Pakistani Indian comradely. This means that a streetscape plan is highly unlikely to insight any unresolvable conflict. Community members have expressed a desire for permanent sculptural elements that represent the community. And finally, commerce is the heart of the neighborhood, in a way that balances use and exchange value, which we see in the informal economy and the desire to develop t he local economy by means of tourism, respectively (Bubinas, 2005: Borrelli and Kalayil, 2012). In relating the findings of the local research it becomes apparent that Devon Avenue is a prime site for a streetscape plan. Chapter 5: The Devon Avenue Street scape Plan My Role and Approach As an intern with the Chicago Public Art Group, I was given the opportunity to join the design team of the (2011 2012) Devon Avenue Streetscape Plan. As a participant observer I attended public and private planning meeting s for the duration of the design phase from August to December (2012). The process of designing the streetscape plan
! '! began with a topographic survey to get a physical map of the site, a geotechnical investigation, and other more technical requirements, in cluding traffic counts. I do not expand on these aspects of the plan, and instead focus on how the process of creating community identifiers was negotiated. Community identifiers (a characteristic component of Chicago's streetscape projects) are a brandi ng mechanism intended to individualize neighborhoods. Community identifiers are symbols that aspire to represent a community for the official purpose of bringing a "unique identity to a neighborhood commercial area" (CDOT, 2003:30). Identifiers can manif est as sidewalk stamps, lightpole banners, and as sculptural elements like vertical identifiers to serve as gateways. Community identifiers often represent a particularly unique and representative aspect of a community, such as local architecture, a momen t in history, or a specific ethnicity. For example, in Chicago's Boystown neighborhood, a cultural center for the LGBTQ community, the community identifier is the six color rainbow (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple). The rainbow symbol in Boy stown proliferates in storefront and residential windows, but also in large pillars established by the city (see Figure 1). Another example of a community identifier is the large gateway in Chicago's south side Chinatown neighborhood (Figure 2). The Chin atown gateway is a fairly simple identifier to design because, although China (like India) contains an enormous variation of cultures, the community falls neatly into a single identifiable category for the outsider unlike Devon Avenue. Streetscape
! '$ Street scapes include sidewalks, lighting, trees, bike lanes, roads, manhole covers, signs, benches, and other visual elements. Streetscapes have commercial (such as outdoor seating at a caf) and public utility (the use of sidewalk benches), and facilitate buse s, automobiles, pedestrian, and other modes of transportation including bicycling. As a result of the great use streetscapes experience, they need regular upkeep and frequent revitalization; this is generally done through city funded streetscape plans. T here is economic value associated with a functional and attractive streetscape in commercial areas where the visual environment can have an effect on the local economy. For example, the shopping experience of Rodeo Drive is in many ways dependent on the aesthetic appeal of the street. Additionally, streetscape projects in Chicago are funded by public money, in this case it was a pool of federal, state and city funds. being in the public realm, typically public money funds the project. In this case, fund ing was intended to "attract and sustain private involvement" partly through "the expansion of open space within the community, streetscaping and beautification efforts where appropriate" (CDOT, 2011). In Chicago, streetscape projects are executed by the Streetscape and Sustainable Design Program within Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) with the objective of economically and socially revitalizing commercial areas (CDOT, 2012). The Streetscape and Sustainable Design Program has a clear set of fu ndamental, and publicly accessible, guidelines that focus on sustainable design, and community involvement. At the beginning of Debra Silverstein's term as Alderman of the 50 th ward in late 2011, she communicated to the Chica go Department of Transportati on as the representative of West Ridge that the neighborhood wanted to initiate a streetscape plan for
! '% the commercial corridor on Devon Avenue. The Alderman was invested in a streetscape plan for two, explicitly stated (in public meetings and the ward's website) reasons: to both fuel local commerce, and celebrate the unique diversity (Silverstein, 2012). Silverstein's official Aldermanic website stated that "This project represents a new era for one of the City's cultural and commercial treasures" (Silve rstein, 2012). On February 1, 2012, at a public meeting, Alderman Silverstein, with Mayor Rahm Emanuel in attendance, announced that the 50th ward would be moving forward with a streetscape plan. The Characteristics of Project Site The Devon Avenue Street scape Plan spans 21 city blocks, from Kedzie in the East to Levitt in the West, and encompasses the heart of the neighborhood commerce. The plan focuses on pedestrian safety, increased pedestrian amenities, and bringing the street up to Chicago's current streetscape code standards. Pedestrian safety was addressed in the plan via the implementation of bumpouts. Bumpouts are extensions in the sidewalk at the corners of intersections that extend the curb out into the crosswalk. Bumpouts bring the pedestri an further out into the street, having the effect of slowing traffic and increasing visibility of pedestrians. They also shorten the distance of the crosswalk so pedestrians spend less time in the street. They also function to align the city grid, which begins to lose form in parts of West Ridge. Wider sidewalks are a big part of this streetscape plan. Wider sidewalks will be able to accommodate more pedestrian traffic, which will encourage residents and tourists to be on the street, and hope fully patr onize the businesses. The plan will extend the sidewalks to include an initial six foot walking zone (the side walk zone closest to th e
! '& businesses) followed by a six foot furniture zone that can accommodate bench seating, trees, and mailboxes, and finally an 18 inch curb space. In bringing the street up to current standards and facilitating public gatherings seating will be reintroduced as pod seating on side streets, and not in the furniture zone. Additionally, the requirement of establishing trees eve ry 22 feet has been a point of contention for business owners, who recognize that the trees will obstruct visibility of the many advertisement signs. The issue of trees was contentious and highlighted the split interests between business owners and reside nts who stand to benefit from the shade. Community identifiers are defined by CDOT as "sculptural elements within a streetscape that seek to bring a unique identity to the neighborhood commercial area" (CDOT, 2003). The community identifiers are the c ompo nents that would, theoretically, cultivate the use value. CDOT intended the identifiers to create a uniform presence on the street without contributing to the preexisting visual chaos. There is a proliferation of colors: multicolored saris hanging in win dows, posters advertising Bollywood movies, and scores of business signs. This collage like visual clutter is stimulating, but has decreasing returns for businesses, as signs compete and blur the vertical streetscape into one massive brightly colored billb oard. Instead of contributing to oversaturation, the community identifiers intended to provide visual unification, contributing to a coherence that bridges the clusters of different groups. The Relevant Interests The project design team was challenged by the prospect of creating community identifiers that would stand out against this backdrop, and provide a successful
! '' representation of the corridor. CDOT foresaw additional challenges regarding representation in creating community identifiers for Devon Av enue, and decided to incorporate a local artist on the design team in order to have more sensitivity in the conceptual design components. CDOT asked for proposals from firms currently having a Master Task Order Agreement for Professional Design Engineerin g Services for Streetscapes, Riverwalk, and Urban Design with CDOT. The proposal asked that the design team include an artist. Because of the request for an artist, Altamanu (an urban design, landscape architecture, and planning firm) selected The Chicago Public Art Group (CPAG) to be part of the proposed design team selected for the project. CPAG has been a key player in the public art history of Chicago and by extension, the United States. The Wall of Respect is considered the first collaborative commu nity art mural in the United States ( Towards a People's Art John Pittman Weber), painted in 1972 in the south side of Chicago by a group of about twenty black artists William Walker was a leader in this group. The Wall of Respect was destroyed in the 7 0s, but remains a pivotal moment in African American civil rights (Weber, 1998). William Walker went on to be the co founder of the Chicago Mural Group, now renamed the Chicago Public Art Group. CPAG is a nonprofit that employs a team of artists to work w ith organizations, agencies, and schools to collaborate with community members and create community landmarks (CPAG, 2012). CPAG selected Tulika Ladsariya to work as the lead artist on the Devon Avenue Streetscape Plan. Tulika is an Asian Indian Chicag o resident, who has lived and worked as an artist in Chicago for three years. In addition to Tulika, the Devon Avenue Streetscape Plan design team included Janet Attarian and Lubica Benak, the Project Director and
! '( Project Manager of the Streetscapes and S ustainable Design program, respectively. The team also included engineer Bryan Luke of the Christopher B. Burke Engineering Ltd. firm. The final member of the team was designer Josephine Bellalta cofounder of Altamanu, a Chicago based landscape architec ture, urban design, and planning firm that advertise s a commitment to interdisciplinary design and community collaboration. Base d on my participant observation and background research, I can state that each individual member of the design team understood the value of community involvement, and use value of the place. The city of Chicago was interested in developing the local economy, and creating a distinct destination neighborhood. It is not as simple to make a totalizing statement about the community' s interests, but based on my conversations and public meeting observations, they can be broadly understood in three ways. First, the community was in part interested in the exchange value of attracting potential customers, who would stimulate the economy. Second, some residents saw this as an opportunity to address local longstanding concerns like cleaning the street, and traffic and parking issues. And third, some groups may have seen the Devon Avenue Streetscape Project as an opportunity to visually rec laim parts of the streetscape. The Design Process of Community Identifiers Community identifiers intend to articulate the community's identity not create one which necessitates a very collaborative process in the effort to understand the neighborhood ch aracter. Realistically a community identifier cannot aspire to
! ') encompassing the entirety of a community's identity, only characteristics of it. Because Devon Avenue's neighborhood identity is grounded in its diversity, the project would have to (attempt to) design community identifiers that either represent diversity itself, or are inclusive to the diversity of people. The first step in the design process was for the artist, Tulika, to develop three conceptual themes for the community identifiers on th e streetscape. These three concepts would be presented to the Alderman, and if approved, it would then be presented to a community taskforce, followed by a presentation at a public meeting. The three themes were conceived by the artist, and fine tuned co llaboratively with the project team. T he potential themes were: "History as Built Environment," "Celebrating Tradition (festivals)," and "U nity in D iversity" (Ladsariya, 2012). The History as Built Environment theme was presented with ideas of using mate rials like mosaic, metal, fiberglass, and mirrors to recreate monuments and influences of their design. For the Celebrating T radition concept the streetscape would aspire to create the ambience of celebrations like Holi, Eid ul fitr, and Hanukkah. This cou ld incorporate abstract representations of colorful bursts, to reference the celebration of a fruitful crop season, Holi. The ideas for the Unity in Diversity theme include d influences of cuisine, clothing, and languages. The themes were then presented to the Alderman. She felt that the initial ideas were disproportionately representative of the South Asian community, and did not represent the Jewish co mmunity that was dominant from Kedzie to Sacramento. Additionally she expressed that parts of the J ewish community have expressed a feeling of underrepresentation in the "Little India" atmosphere. Based on this, the Alderman proposed an idea of individualized and site specific community identifiers for each ethnic
! '* identity as they manifest in pockets on Devon Avenue. Meaning, an identifier that manifests a Jewish identity exists in the blocks primarily inhabited by Jewish businesses, and a different identifier that manifests a Syrian identity exists in the blocks that primarily inhabit Syrian identity and so on. Janet Attrian, the project director, expressed concern that this approach may further segregate the community by visually creating pockets of individuals instead of a shared cohesive community. The Alderman agreed, and a consensus was reache d among the design team and the Alderman, that the community identifiers should aspire to unify the community, instead of highlighting specific groups within it. In part, this was because of an understanding that by explicitly representing race, ethnicity there would inevitably be outliers, and a consequent hierarchy established. The challenge here was to decide where to create a representation of unity itself, or recognize the different groups directly, at risk of promoting distinctness, but in hopes of representing everyone. There is no entirely correct answer, and it depends on the neighborhood. In the end, the Alderman selected the "unity in diversity" theme 18 After accounting for the Alderman's input, the team created a presentation for a sample of the West Ridge community selected by the Alderman, and referred to throughout the process as "the taskforce." The Alderman, as the official representative of the ward, had the power to decide the extent of public collaboration. Alderman Silverstein, t ook the approach of creating a "taskforce" of about fifteen community members, including business owners, residents, and community leaders (the method for creating the taskforce is not known). This taskforce was intended to function as a semi representati ve sample of the community that would provide feedback to the design team. In this case, the !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 18 Unity Through Diversity was the title of the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative mural.
! '+ incorporation of the taskforce is a strategy used to gain an understanding of public responses to designs, perception of the entire project, and specific interest s, needs, and expectations. This is a good method for active community engagement from a segment of the community. However, it too has potential pitfalls, such as the potential for the sample to be unrepresentative or bias ed The approach used for the tas kforce presentation was to bring ideas to the table, but also to be there to listen as was the approach with consequent public meeting s The conversation was set up to describe the city's aspirations for the streetscape plan and show ways in which these a spirations could translate into physical forms. The questions asked to the taskforce and the public were used to gain direction for the designs, not to get a solution. Instead of asking the taskforce and later, the audience of the public meeting to pick and choose, they were asked to explain what resounded about certain images, and what images they already associated with Devon Avenue. This approach has potential benefits, but in this case both the taskforce and the public meeting, residents were welcom ing of the presentations and happy with the designs before them, so they offered very little creative input, instead they gave their support (or apathy). After the limited response from the taskforce presentation, the artist created final designs, and the design team translated them into street safe and manufacturer friendly plans. This means accounting for safety (using designs that discourage climbing on the structures) and easily replicable and repairable elements that can be reused and repaired. The community identifiers incorporated into the plan will manifest as light pole identifiers, gateways accompanying seating pods at street corners, and the placement of
! ', large designs as floor stamps in major intersections, like Western and Devon. The streets cape plan also incorporates artfully designed crosswalks that modify the conventional zebra crossing to accommodate the tendencies of pedestrian traffic. These designs placed in intersections also have the functional intention to slow traffic. Chapter 6: Discussion This chapter looks at the link between place making and ethnic identity, the role of collaboration, and the application of art in the construction of community identifiers for an ethnically diverse community. Linking place making with ethnic identity In this case, the planners, designers, engineer, artist, and local Alderman were all committed to working to represent the existing multicultural identity. This case sought to create a cohesive streetscape in a diverse, but spatially segregated, community. The implications of a cohesive streetscape are especially significant in the case of an immigrant neighborhood, such as Devon. Here, as Bubinas showed, co ethnicity and the creation of a place afford invaluable social and economic support for new immigrants (Bubinas, 2005). There are potential negative implications in linking ethnic identity to place making. Zukin presented the looming danger of gentrification as a consequence of a distinct, authentic, neighborhood. Community identifiers i n Devon highlight the distinct nature of the place, and thus present the potential for gentrification. Though the actual results of the streetscape plan are yet to be seen (it is a ten year project) t here is potential that the community identifiers may be perceived as superficial representations by the community intended more for the experience of outsiders than residents. This is not necessarily a bad thing for the commerce and exchange value of the
! (! place. However, for residents, this perception coul d potentially be upsetting. In this sense, the project pays a unique attention to the local ethnic identity which is significant, but may do so in a superficial way. I do not believe that this outcome is necessarily true, nor that it will result in commu nity unrest by causing the community will lose faith in the city, or feel a loss of agency, or even deem the community identifiers superficial. If anything, I think that the community will value the streetscapes identifiers that pa y attention to the neigh borhood; too often urbanites endure streetscape standardization. Additionally, as Rangaswamy stated, the residents will probably be glad to see the streets cleaned (Rangaswamy, 2006). The Devon Avenue Streetscape Plan paid attention to the particular ch aracter of the neighborhood, and tailored the design to the neighborhood needs. For example, the design team was aware that the neighborhood mobilized to remove the benches on the avenue, but continue d to congregate in spite of that, by leaning on buildin gs, sitting on windowsills, and brin g ing personal chairs from their homes out into the street. The community utilizes and values street furniture, and the interactions that it facilitates. The security of high use provides an opportunity for innovative, n on traditional, seating. After considering these factors, that the community needs seating, but had the benches removed, the team came to the decision that pod seating may be a good middle ground. The reintroduction of seating to the corridor will be pod seating on side streets. Unlike benches, pod seating will provide furniture tailored to the individual. I have not seen the images of these pods, but am keen to experience their ergonomic support (considering the elderly populations that I observed to u se public seating more than any other age group) and see the orientation of
! ($ the seats 19 The decision to use pod seating is representative of a consideration that the design team gave to the historical context of the neighborhood. Branding commercial neigh borhoods is in part a means to market them as economic destinations. This requires a brand that represents an attractive theme that markets authenticity. In this way of understanding, branding is done more for visitors and tourists that seek to experienc e the place, more than the residents who live in it. This is not to say that consumerism is necessarily at odds with cultivating a sense of place, it is not (evidenced by Zukin's statement that commerce is the continuity of urban life). The relationship of ethnic identity to place making, in Devon, presents threats of gentrification and opportunities for meaningful representation of underrepresented minority groups. From this emerges the importance of a mindful approach that considers these threats, and t he opportunities for socially engaged design. Additionally, community identifiers can be permanent, while neighborhood compositions change (perhaps as a result of gentrification), the identifiers remain. This presents an opportunity for the place memory and history keeping that Hayden advocates. Collaboration It is unsound, though not necessarily impossible, to try to cultivate a community's "sense of place" a concept grounded in use value ( a person's individual understanding of a community based on th eir personal sense of attachment and belonging within a !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 19 The orientation of the chairs can impact their use value. If the chairs face inward, in a circular layout, they can facilitate discussion. On the other hand, if they face outward, toward the street, there is ample visual stimulation, and perhaps even the ability to see other groups gath ering on the street. The implications of seat orientation are interesting, but function only as an example of the attention to detail that was, and should be, considered during the planning process.
! (& Community involvement is vital to implementing successful streetscapes. The community is engaged early on in the design process whenever possible and is fundamentally involved in the decision making pr ocess. This partnership results in unique community branding, through elements such as community specific identifiers, landscaped planters, and historical kiosks that accentuate a sense of place. The personal involvement also leads to improved community c onsensus and satisfaction, and reduces incidences of vandalism or neglect. (CDOT, 2013) Here, CDOT states that there are tangible practical benefits to collaboration. The statement also implies that a community is less likely to deface, or be indifferent to, components of a streetscape because of a sense of pride and ownership, which stems from their participation in the process. There are additional theoretical implications, and social effects of living in a public, visual space that is meant for a comm unity and influenced by that community. The implications of the sense of agency that users may experience alone could result in less political apathy, increased voter turnout, and an inspired public with not only a sense of value, but civic responsibility In the case of Devon Avenue, the community identifiers were designed with some community engagement, and do not function exclusively as a branding mechanism. Additionally, given the neighborhood's historical ability to organize and mobilize, I believe t hey are less susceptible to the threat of gentrification. Still, enhancing the exchange value of the neighborhood can disproportionately benefit the exchange value interests of the city, the business owners, homeowners and anyone that stands to gain from increased property value and economic gains. This would conflict with the use values of renters and low income residents like new immigrants who cannot afford the cost increases. Thus results in the gentrification that Zukin previously described.
! (' Altho ugh it is not necessarily true that increased collaboration will yield increased representation, it is the case that increased collaboration when facilitated strategically can incline residents to be more accepting of representations like community identif iers. This is because there is an opportunity to glean resident s h istorical accounts (use values of the place for them) in a more personal way. This is especially significant in the face of the many mixed interests of the diverse public of Devon, becau se representations of diversity have a tendency to be very abstract, rather than a more direct depiction, as we see in the Dudley Street mural. Art In this case, community collaboration occurred through the small sample of the community, the "taskforce," a nd public meetings. The taskforce was the creation of the Alderman, and not a standard approach to streetscape planning in Chicago (CDOT, 2012). The taskforce provided a space within which the design team and Alderman could sample ideas and gain an under standing of the reactions of the community. The Devon community (the taskforce and the public meeting audience) responded positively to the images and designs presented to them, which finalized the images as the community identifiers. During the public m eeting presentation, there was initially no feedback to the community identifier designs. After the presentation slideshow was over, the facilitator (Janet) prompted the residents to give their opinions on the proposed identifiers. In response, a residen t asked if gateway signage bridging the street at the ends of the project would be a feasible addition. Janet responded that the budget would not be able to accommodate gateways, but that uniform light pole identifiers -with banners and
! (( metalwork -would c reate a similar visual affect, given their equal height and spacing. To this, another resident asked, "Can they all be different? Can they be public art? (* he threw his hands in the air and started giggling already knowing the answer* ) Can we get an artis t? Can we do something like the sculpture park in Skokie along the river? That's neat." Disregarding the fact that we already had an artist on the design team, present and active, the speaker [Janet] responded, "Well, then it's going to be the public art p rocess" and she proceeded to follow this with a rapid pace long winded description of the challenges that this would entail "we would have to pick an artist, how do we pick an artist we would have to agree on an image, how do we pick and image finally culminating with, "ok, I'm done, you get the idea" which incited laughter. This shows that there is a sentiment within the community that it is interested in public art. However, this anecdote also shows that there is a shared understanding of the diffi culties of such a public art process, and its role as a joke shows a lack of interest in pursuing one. Following this, the conversation returned to the facilitator seeking feedback on the proposed community identifiers. They were received positively, and the community members praised the aesthetic value of community identifier designs. However, the public did not provide specific ideas or feedback exceeding this. There are many potential reasons that the audience did not engage in public discussion of t he work, and I can only provide speculation of why that is the case. The audience may have felt intimidated about contributing since the artist was in the room, or just intimidated to talk about art (if that was not their line of work/expertise). They ma y have felt it was futile to suggest changes or additional features since the drawings were already complete and superimposed onto computer generated models of the street. Additionally, the theme Unity in Diversity
! () had already been decided. However, I hav e observed nothing to support these claims, as there was not apparent expression of frustration, nor an articulation of the need for an initial visioning meeting. This indicates that the community was happy with the state of the streetscape plan, and this of course takes precedent. There was no initial public visioning process for the Devon Avenue Streetscape Plan. This step can prevent the limited creative participation that characterized the public meeting. In a visioning workshop the designers woul d have an opportunity to hear the community's interests through stories. The importance of storytelling is attested by planning theorist John Forester, in The Deliberative Practitioner: Encouraging Participatory Planning (1999). Forester advocates a conv ersational approach to design that allows planners, designers, and artists (any no n grassroots stakeholder) to understand how the community can best be served, and represented. He explains that in collaborative planning for urban design, community stakeho lders can be skeptical of experts and governing bodies ; stakeholders can also experience and engage in power dynamics within the community and the perception of the outside planners and designers. These challenges to effective collaboration, Forester stat es, can be diffused by deliberative and pragmatic approaches that do not necessarily require an unreasonably long amount of time, and seat the average citizen at that table with experts (as opposed to behind the podium) (Forester, 1999). Forester does thi s, in part, with an approach of listening and learning through storytelling and consequent collective problem solving, which allows for an understanding of the use value of a project site, the expression of specific local concerns and desires. An applicat ion of Forester's approach to an initial visioning meeting would be able to inform all of the design process, from first to fi nal draft. This would likely inc it e more community
! (* participation in consequent public meetings because they would be responding to depictions of their stories (just like a portrait of yourself is more engaging than a portrait of an unknown figure). There are a number of reasons used to justify excluding visioning workshops: to expedite the process and avoid setting false expectation s. However it is in these meetings that t he community is able to express specific problem sites and elements in the neighborhood (like an especially dangerous street corner). The design team intended to facilitate the meetings with a conversational app roach, encouraging a free exchange of ideas. However, the lack of community feedback resulted in a lecture style presentation. This could have been a result of a variety of logistical things, such as the late hour of the meeting or the seating arrangemen t (details like this are accounted for by Forester). However, important decisions are made in the presentation of ideas, and the selection of images in the presentations. Hence, during these public meetings, the community's engagement was reactionary as opposed to a more "fundamental involvement" (CDOT, 2013). By showing graphically superimposed designs and drawings already responding to a theme, the community may have felt a decreased sense of agency. Outside of the community identifiers, the eleme nts of streetscape plans require technical knowledge of urban planning (road infrastructure, below ground sewage etc.). Even the decisions with an aesthetic influence, for example the type of streetlamp that is chosen (Devon Avenue ended up with double ac orns), requires an understanding of manufacturers' capacity, and budget restrictions. Due to the fact that community identifiers were the only component that required community involvement, it may be in part the scope
! (+ of the project that dissuaded communit y feedback and an initial visioning process. Perhaps if a comprehensive neighborhood plan was being pursued, a more engaged discussion might have occurred. Additionally, the community identifiers were always presented after the widening of sidewalks con sequent narrowing of streets, and introduction of trees which many residents expressed that they did not want, but were told they were required (trees), or made to understand that they will have positive effects (narrowing the street will not necessarily w orsen traffic) at public meetings. So when community identifiers are on the table, the sentiment that their input is unnecessary may carry over. In this case, I think it would have been more productive to facilitate community identifier conversations at the beginning of public meetings and taskforce meetings, prior to presenting resolved components. Relevant questions to pursue in this light are: If the community is merely accepting of all proposed images and not actively engaged in producing the theme s and designs, will the streetscape cultivate a sense of place that is representative of the neighborhood? Is the collaborative design process devalued by the lack of community input even though some opportunity for this input was given? Art and Artist Involvement The role of the artist holds a great deal of potential. In this case, the artist at the design team's instruction was creating designs to present to the public. The designs were not collaborative in their conception and community design deci sion making was reactionary. Furthermore, had feedback been given, there was no opportunity (in the form
! (, of public meetings) to show the designs after accounting for public input. A feedback loop like this becomes especially important in the absence of a n initial visioning process. A representative of CDOT's Sustainable Design and Streetscapes team stated that they chose to incorporate a local artist on this particular project because the artist would add a "layer of sensitivity" to community identifiers (CODT, 2012). Though this statement is ambiguous, it does speak to a sentimental appeal of art, that may transcend the logic of traditional design 21 The asso ciation of art with sensitivity is interesting, especially in the context of the public realm, whe re public art faces constant scrutiny. I believe this statement speaks to the limited involvement of the artist as solely a producer of drawings. The inclusion of the artist may have also been an effort to establish a link between the city planners and t he residents because in this context, the ar tist is both a Chicago resident and a temporary employee of the city In the design process, I observed a hesitancy to directly represent specific groups in the built environment because of a fear that identifiers may not be inclusive enough. For example, at one point there was a proposed theme of using various languages and scripts to embody the diversity and pay testament to the fifty plus languages spoken on Devon Avenue (Rangaswamy, 2006). The text theme was decided against by the designers, for fear of isolating groups of people that speak unrepresented languages. The use of henna patterns was another proposed concept that was considered potentially isolating, and a means to further the Little India colloqui alism. This was decidedly treacherous waters that could have caused unrest in the non South Asian community. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 21 This is not to imply that CDOT only employs traditio nal design, they are actually quite innovative, as we see in the modified zebra crossing in the Devon site.
! )! In this effort to be inclusive, I believe the results became poorly representative. I believe this is a consequence of a few factors. In part, the aspiration to create representative, unifying, identifiers, was very ambitious given the design approach. In a careful approach to be inclusive, the designs representing diversity were diluted, making images potentially unrepresentative of everyone. However, this has little to do with the community's reception of the community identifiers once they are established. After establishment the community may form pride, solidarity, and a sense of belonging around them. What I find most inspiring about the employment of an artist in this case is that the artist, first creating a theme, manifested illustrations of this theme, which turned into community identifiers. In this way, the artist effectively functioned as a place making tool. Chapter 7: Conclusion Streetscapes do not always (intentionally) convey a deep place identity. However, to encourage this, the practice of evaluating the built environment needs to shift from assessing physical form and image, to value the social and political meanings of de sign. If the built environment in ethnically diverse neighborhoods expressed narratives of subaltern identity and history, the community could conceivably participate and engage with the urban design, public art, and (most importantly) each other. All of which can strengthen social bonds, place identity, investment in place, and working against an oppressive history of underrepresentation. Dolores Hayden s tates in The Power of Place that: "identity is intimately tied to memory: both our personal memorie s (Where we have come from and where we have dwelt) and the collective or social memories interconnected with the histories of our families, neighbors, fellow workers, and
! )$ ethnic communities. Urban landscapes are storehouses for these social memories, bec ause natural features such as hills or harbors, as well as streets, buildings, and patterns of settlement, frame the lives of many people and often outlast many lifetimes." (Hayden, 1995) Here, Hayden shows that the urban landscape is the embodiment of the history that is the actual practical community identity. This intense bond between the resident and the built environment is fundamental evidence for the importance of participatory, collaborative, socially aware, and artful approaches to urban design. Once it is understood and accepted that there is a social impact of urban design (or the reverse, that the state of our urban design is indicative of social trends), there emerges an opportunity to use urban design and art in service to social justice. Th is in turn betters the representation of underrepresented subaltern communities and their collective histories. Urban design should be more than a commemorative, permanently public art piece, or a system of honorary street names. History is not any singl e thing existing in isolation. Urban design and permanent works of art need to be accompanied by cultural programs, art and historical exhibits and education, to enact the Power of Place that Hayden presents. A successfully built environment is the frame for a growing machine of cultural inclusivity that does not merely acknowledge diversity, but facilitates a sense of cultural belonging. Cultural belonging, as opposed to legal membership, is a concept that represents an identity grounded in the social d ynamics of a place (Benmayor and Techen as cited by Hayden, 1995:8). The cultural belonging that transcends this being the "power of place" to which Dolores Hayden refers, "the power of ordinary urban landscapes to nurture citizens' public memory, to enco mpass shared time in the form of shared territory" (Hayden, 1995:9). Achieving this requires the employment of urban design and art in a socially engaged way, which makes an active effort to bring out subaltern histories and identities
! )% (Hayden, 1995). This can develop the American city to ground its existence in diversity. Which has the potential to counteract the increase in racial diversity that is happening in tandem with concentrated residential patterns, that situate many homogeneous neighborhoods within a city, (rather than the creation a large concentration of diversity) (Dryfoos and Wright, 2012). Sociologist Herbert Gans once said, "Private citizens are of course entitled to save their own past, but when preservation becomes a public act, suppo rted with public funds, it must attend to everyone's past" (Gans as cited by Hayden, 1995:6). In many public projects, taxpayers are both the financial backers and the audience, and yet, public projects are not necessarily inclusive of all actors. As mul ticulturalism becomes more vital to urban planning, design, and art, it is increasingly relevant to study the ways to represent and plan for multicultural communities. In doing this, I believe that there is a great potential impact of an expansion of the role of the artist. Chicago's emphasis on neighborhood streetscape design is a framework within which urban design and art can be used to aid in representing subaltern communities. However, though streetscape plans provide a good framework for representat ions of history, public memory, and identity, designing these representations should not be a function of the department of transportation. It is necessary that the City finalize designs, to ensure manufacturability and safety, but the conceptual theme, s ocial research, visioning and collaborative design, require a level of detail for which the City cannot realistically be accountable. In looking to better execute the critical representations that enact the Power of Place that Hayden discusses, I have com e to three conclusions for future ethnic identity
! )& representative participatory processes that seek to cultivate a sense of place for the subaltern or diverse. Democratic Budgeting First I propose the use of a framework that allows residents to decide ho w they want to spend the available funds. In Rangaswamy's article she cites the following community sentiment, "If you look at Chinatown or Argyle Street, the City has made it very attractive for tourism. We need the same thing a gateway or an arch by We stern and Devon" (Kalayil and Maniar as cited by Rangaswamy 2006:227). During the community feedback portion of the public meeting, a resident also expressed a desire for a gateway. Arguably, this sentiment could have been voiced twice by the same actor, but that is not what matters. The point is that the response was in both cases, budgetary limitations. Not to say that we cannot afford to erect a gateway, just that if we do, we won't have funds to do much else on the streetscape. However, if a gateway identifier was in fact all that the community wanted, should the city not allow for the possibility that the gateway be all that they get? Based on this, I advocate a method in which community members can decide how to spend their budget. In the case of Devon, that means discussing the budget for community identifiers not the entire streetscape with the community. This would be something that should happen during a very early stage, perhaps at a community visioning meeting. This way, before developin g the plan, designers know what the community wants. Alternatively, the budget could be completely turned over to the community using a framework like Participatory Budgeting (PB). The Participatory Budgeting Project is a
! )' nonprofit that empowers residen ts with the ability to control public money. As a representative of CPAG, I completed PB training, and as a resident of the 49 th ward (the ward directly East of West Ridge) I heard testimony of citizens that had participated in the PB process to successfu lly allocate funds in support of a mural renovation project for the El. The process is consensus driven, and includes a strong emphasis on first ensuring that participants understand the sometimes hazy distinction between projects that benefit the public good, from more private projects. To return to the example of the gateway, the PB approach would allow for residents to spend the entire budget on a gateway, if it was approved by consensus and decided to be publicly beneficial. Contracting Public Art Org anizations : It is likely a direct result of my proximity to the project -as both a resident living four city blocks from Devon and as a participant observer of the design process -but I was not satisfied with the extent of representativeness of Devon's com munity identifiers. First, the lack of an initial visioning process, where discussion could have warranted an understanding of the community's perception and experiences their use value of place. And second, the lack of community input on the decision of the theme. In contemporary built environment discourse it is necessary to consider the role of race, gender, class, into the social impact of urban design. These are complex ideas to consider, and are difficult to address in neighborhoods like Devon Av enue, where commonality is rare, spatial segregation persists, and religion plays such a major role (separation of church and state). Avoiding offensive design is not as challenging as engaging a deep consideration of these contexts to employ careful and strategic approach that responds to them. This can be understood as the difference between "airport art" and
! )( "political art." Standardized streetscapes can be "airport art" in that they are safe, apolitical, inoffensive but in many respects, uninterestin g and missing the opportunity of the Power of Place (Hayden). The term "political art" often describes public art, and can make statements about race relations, women's rights, or any issue or representation that might cause conflict. Public art is more c ontroversial than urban design; and public art groups like CPAG have the specific skillset of creating public art, through community collaborative methods. Considering this in conjuncture with the great complexity associated with representing a neighborho od identity in inclusive physical form, I propose that CDOT contract local nonprofit public arts organizations, like the Chicago Public Art Group, to handle visioning, collaboration, conceptual themes, and initial design. In the sense that they are artfu l, visual images, community identifiers function as a kind of public art especially in when they are produced, as they were in Devon, by an artist. Navigating the realm of public art is treacherous. Private nonprofit public art organizations like the Chi cago Public Art Group constantly grapple with designing to create inclusive environments for diverse urban publics. CPAG has honed specific skills that deem them proficient in navigating diverse publics in meaningful, engaging, and artistic ways. Additi onally, the employment of an arts organization, especially one with the historical precedent of CPAG, significantly reduces the stereotypes of government collaboration. Arts organizations can remove the often negative associations that communities may ass ociate with government action, for example the sentiment that participation is inconsequential.
! )) The Role of the Artist The incorporation of an artist on the design team of the Devon Avenue Streetscape Plan is an exciting approach to planning and design I advocate for the City's continued incorporation of artists on these teams. However, I think there is more to benefit from a further expansion of the role of the artist, and an increased awareness of the applications of art. Expanding the role of the artist, from that of an object creator (producer of art) to that of a contributor to cultural value an underexplored and potentially powerful terrain for socially engaged artists. This would effectively shift the attention from the object, to the intenti on, necessitating more imaginative ways of seeing community identifiers. This role will not be suited for every artist, but will be able to gain momentum from the growing field of socially engaged art or participatory art (art that requires some particip ation from the audience in order to be complete). CPAG produces and supports artists that are invested in community development through community (and collaborative) public art projects. Artists facilitate discussions, engage in community dialogues, lead public and participatory design sessions, and execute visual research and oral histories -all in an effort to build community through community public art projects (CPAG, 2012). This model alone is powerful, but the implications of incorporating this model into the collaborative framework of streetscape plans has the implications that combat stereotypes of artists and government projects, and contribute directly to cultural value and community identity. Additionally, this approach would broaden the sc ope of public art to include public transportation infrastructure. The application of these three practical recommendations has the potential to execute public works projects that rejuvenates urban civic virtue and citizenship.
! )* I am keen to see future research on the impact of streetscape community identifiers as neighborhood composition changes.
! )+ IMAGES Examples of Chicago neighborhood community identifiers: Boystwon, Chicago. Columnar Identifier. Chinatow n, Chicago. Gateway Identifier.
! ), 47 th Street, Chicago. Lightpole Identifier. Greektown, Chicago. Columnar Identifier. Humbolt Park, Chicago. Gateway Identifier.
! *! Devon Avenue neighborhood: Streetscape Gathering of people with improvised seating.
! *$ Devon Avenue Community Identifiers Lightpole identifier options for Devon Avenue. Lightpole identifier Draft Ladsariya
! *% Sculptural screen community identifiers to be placed behind pod seating
! *& Drafts of streetstamp identifiers
! *' BIBLI OGRAPHY "Project for Public Spaces." ( http://www.pps.org/ ). Cockcroft, Eva S., John P. Weber and James D. Cockcroft. 1998. Toward a People's Art: The Contemporary Mural Movement. University of New Mexico Press Florida, Richard. 2002. "The Rise Oft He Creative Class and how its Transforming Work, Leisure, Community & Everyday Life.". Forester, John. 1999. The Deliberative Practitioner: Encouraging Participatory Planning. The MIT Press. Hayden, Dolores. 1997. T he Power of Place: Urban Landscapes as Public History. The MIT press. Jacobs, Jane. 1961. The Death and Life of Great American Cities. Vintage. Lloyd, Richard. 2009. "The New Chicago: A Cultural and Social Analysis." American Journal of Sociology 114(6):1881 1883. Logan, John R. and Harvey L. Molotch. 2007. Urban Fortunes: The Political Economy of Place. Univ of California Press. Oldenburg, Ray. 1997. The Great Good Place: Cafes, Coffee Shops, Bookstores, Bars, Hair Salons, and Other Hangouts at the Heart of a Community. Da Capo Press.
! *( Pacyga, Dominic and Ellen Skerrett. 1986. Chicago, City of Neighborhoods: Histories and Tours. Loyola Press. Rangaswamy, Padma. 2006. Devon Avenue: A World Market. Temple Univeristy Press. Suttles, Gerald D. and Gerald D. Suttles. 1972. The Social Construction of Communities. Vol. 111.University of Chicago Press Chicago. Zukin, Sharon. 2009. Naked City: The Death and Life of Authentic Urban Places. Oxford University Press, USA.