Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Why this topic?

1. Urban Planning / Design Relation

As an urban planning student, this was the key factor.  While tent cities have an impact on urban areas, they are usually ignored unless they are being threatened of removal.  Instead of pretending they do not exist, I am interested in finding a place in the city for this type of informal urbanism.

The proposal of Dignity Village: 2001 and Beyond in Portland shows that tent cities can be directly applied to urban planning.  I see it as a model example for tent cities throughout the country.

2. Social Justice

Personally, I think it is bullshit that a person does not have the right to provide shelter for themselves.  Today's streamlined cities have left people with few options in terms of living situations, which many do not fit.  This is becoming increasingly true with the current recession and housing foreclosure crisis.  I see establishing tent cities as a way to create greater social inclusion within the city.

3. Simple and Sustainable Living

I have always been attracted to the idea of creating your own shelter and the creative expression that comes along with it.  As a kid I would often construct forts throughout the house to sleep in rather than the bed in my room.  An enthusiasm for primitive camping has allowed me to continue this concept outdoors as I have gotten older.

Recently, I have become interested in the lifestyle of Native Americans and their architecture, which I think can be applied to tent cities.  Like the Native Americans, each tent city must adapt its structure to the climate of its location.  This provides the opportunity to live along with the natural environment in a way that is far more sustainable than conventional housing.

4.  Sense of Community

While the world is becoming better connected globally, modern development is isolating people locally.  Robert Putnam's Bowling Alone describes this loss of stock in social capital.  I believe tent cities can offer a sense of local community and democratic organization that is lacking in many cities.