#ReadUrbanandPlanningWomen2014 entry #26 #ascp2014: Lauren Garott

In keeping with my theme to highlight the work of women who write about urbanism and planning, I have a couple more awards to write about. This year’s Ritzdorf award winner is Lauren Garott from Kansas State University, for her master’s project on physical activity among African American women. According to ACSP’s website, the Ritzdorf award is a student award. I am a big fan of awards for students, unlike most awards, which are, as Sartre noted, always corrupting for the rest of us.

From the ACSP website, a description of the award:

This award recognizes superior scholarship reflecting concern with making communities better for women, people of color and/or the disadvantaged. Submissions may be based on student work submitted in the pursuit of any urban/city/community/town/regional planning degree, undergraduate or graduate, at an ACSP-member school.

You can download a pdf of the report here of Lauren’s award-winning master’s project. Her abstract says:

In the United States, minorities are less physically active and in turn at higher risk for heart disease, diabetes and obesity. The purpose of my study is to examine the factors that influence physical activity in neighborhood parks and to answer: What aspects of park design and programming discourage physical activity participation in African American women? My goal is to identify barriers to physical activity and make recommendations for improving design and programming of a neighborhood park. The results of my research are relevant to the planning profession because planners can use public policy to combat inequality in the built environment.

Many studies have related recreation access to socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, age, and gender. While African American women are not the only disadvantaged population when it comes to access to recreation, they do have a higher risk for obesity. In trying to answer why African American women have higher rates of obesity, some studies have found that while willingness to participate in physical activity does not differ in white and black women, duration of physical activity does.

My research employs a mixed methods approach to understand the barriers to physical activity experienced by African American women, in context of a neighborhood park. This study uses a physical assessment of James Mulligan Park and the surrounding neighborhood within Alexandria, Virginia. Following the physical assessment I piloted a survey to gather information on the barriers to physical activity. The pilot guided a final survey of seventeen participating African American women in the neighborhood.
I hypothesized that the perception of park safety will have an effect on the rate of physical activity in African American women. This hypothesis points to a general barrier for all women. Based on literature review, I also expected to find barriers unique to African American women.

The study concluded that African American women in this neighborhood share some barriers with all women and they also expressed some barriers unique to African American women. I found that personal barriers like “exercise tires me” was the most common, rather than perceptions of safety. In addition, I found culturally specific barriers, such as “exercising is not my cultural activity” and “I avoid exercise to protect my hairstyle.” Based on my analysis of the setting and surveys I make several recommendations for the park and neighborhood.

Errrbody needs to follow up on Garrott’s project with reading This Bridge Called My Back , which is an anthology of feminist theory writing from feminists of color.

Black women are tired, and they are tired for good reason, and if the rest of us would like to save money on health costs of obesity and this and that and yada…maybe it’s time to pay attention to the tiredness of black women and start there.

#ReadUrbanandPlanningWomen2014 entry #25 ACSP Week: Linda Dalton

This week we are off to ACSP, where I must wear a badge of shame for failing to finish my paper. However, that means that I drop out of a five-person theory session, and that means everybody else gets more time, and that’s needed in a five-person session. I’m not sure what I was thinking when I proposed 5 people in the session, but I am sure I had a theory. Ha! See what I did there? Bad theory.

Anyhoodily, this week the organization is handing out awards and that fits nicely with my #ReadUrbanandPlanningWomen2014 theme. This year’s recipient of the Margarita McCoy Award is Linda Dalton. I can’t find a web page for her; she’s listed in the program as being at Cal Poly East Bay, but I can’t find her on their faculty page. If somebody has a lead on that, please shoot me the link in the comments.

(Ask the internets and ye shall receive. Here is a link to Dr. Dalton’s page.)

From the ACSP website, here is the write up of the McCoy award:

Recognizes individuals who have made an outstanding contribution toward the advancement of women in planning at institutions of higher education through service, teaching, and/or research. The Margarita McCoy Award is made by the ACSP Faculty Women’s Interest Group.’

Here is the committee’s write-up from the program:

Linda Dalton was selected as this year’s McCoy Award recipient due to the exceptional leadership qualities she has demonstrated during her distinguished career and, in particularly, the outstanding mentorship role she has played for many women in higher education in planning. In addition to her own distinguished career in planning, she has worked tirelessly to improve faculty diversity in planning programs and serves as a role model for women in higher education. ~ Hilary Nixon, Chair, FWIG Award Committee, 2014

The paper I thought I’d discuss here is a paper from 1986 entitled:

Dalton, Linda 1986. Why the Rational Paradigm Persists — The Resistance of Professional Education and Practice to Alternative Forms of Planning. Journal of Planning Education and Research April 1986 5: 147-153, doi:10.1177/0739456X8600500302

First of all, we need to comment on the throwback three column format and HOW MUCH I LOVE IT.

That said, the motivating question behind Dalton’s paper is a good one: by 1986, we’d loads and loads of planning theory that had reacted to the mistakes of rational modernist planning, like urban renewal, and had tried to reformulate planning in alternative terms. This created quite a bit of disjoin between theory and practice because rational planning still dominated most forms of practice. I think that’s true today still.

Dalton’s explanation is a good one, too:

Taken together, utilitarian and logical positivist notions of rationality constitute both a process for making decisions and a set of underlying characteristics or assumptions upon which choices are made: objectivity, analysis and efficiency.

The emphasis is in the original.

That is, the question of the public interest is a real thing, and the process of trying to suss it is an important thing, and while the particular methods and values embodied in logical positivism might have problems, the need to explore the public interest never goes away, unless, like Maggie Thatcher, you just up and decide there is no such thing.

Dalton develops this argument by examining both the practice and the profession of planning, noting the various ways in which rationality and its attendant themes drive the market for professionals that in, turn, influences the culture of the practice. Ulrich Beck, Scott Lash, and Anthony Giddens later work through how these themes play out in larger sociological processes way beyond planning in their description of reflexive modernization.

Dalton warned that planners’ adherence to rationalist principles contains the seeds of the profession’s destruction in that despite all the claims and production of technical material, problems persist and undermine the credibility of the claims to technical expertise. In the place of rationality, Dalton suggestions the practice of public reason.

In the decades following, we would have a lot of planning theory that grapples with the problems: Flyvbjerg would connect rationality to power, and the process of rationalization, for one important contribution.

But planners still have this problem: if we aren’t producing technical material, what is the role of the profession? Planning as something people rather than professionals, do, well, that’s a thing, and it does not promise outcomes necessarily. Planner as something a person can be, as a professional who can be paid because they are doing something special in planning…that’s a different idea entirely. The persistence of social ills can hardly be laid at the foot of rationalist planning; modernist planning might have been overly ambitious in its claims, but it’s not like any revision can necessarily solve the problem, as it’s just way too much of a straw man to expect any one approach or profession to alleviate the ‘mirage’ aspects of Enlightenment thought that set up the idea of social perfectibility in the first place. Let’s not plan, then, and let things go, since social ills can’t be ‘solved.’ Or let’s revise the notion of the profession: hands up, who wants to be small and marginal and claim dominion over the easy-to-implement and socially stabilizing things (bike lanes) so that we can boost our prestige as a profession, and forget about things like poverty since that’s hard?

ReadUrbanandPlanningWomen2014 entry #24: Herbie Huff and Kelcie Ralph on Women and Cycling

I have never had the pleasure of meeting Herbie Huff or Kelcie Ralph. The bios say that Huff is a research associate at UCLA’s Lewis Center for Regional Policy Studies and the Institute for Transportation Studies. Kelcie Ralph is a PhD candidate in transportation policy and planning at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs. I didn’t find a web page for Ms. Ralph, but I did find her Twitter feed (@KMRalph) where she discusses her research and practice interests.

Huff and Ralph have a piece up over at The Gaurdian Cities called “The Reason why fewer US women cycle than the Dutch is not what you think it is.” Now, these titles are always dumb click-bait, and authors are never the ones writing such silliness. Because how could they know what reasons I am thinking about? Because my guess was actually right. But I am expert ;^). However, they didn’t cite my paper on the subject in the working paper on which this summary is based. Shocking! [grasps pearls] Kids today.

But I digress.

You are supposed to guess that that the reason women in the US bike less than women in Dutch cities is all the biking infrastructure the Dutch have, and even though the Guardian was fishing for clicks with that title, I’ve seen multiple instances online where people throw pouty fits because they think that the research doesn’t validate their religious zeal about differences in infrastructure being the only difference that matters. However, if you actually read the article, the authors do not dispute the role of biking infrastructure supply as a key difference between Dutch and American contexts. Instead, they use time activity data to show that American women still do a disproportionate amount of household work, and they work more hours at paid work, than their Dutch counterparts:

Dutch women can use bikes to get around because they are less pressed for time than American women, in three fundamental ways. First, thanks to family-friendly labour policies like flexitime and paternity leave, Dutch families divide childcare responsibilities much more evenly than American families. Second, work weeks in the Netherlands are shorter. One in three Dutch men and most Dutch women work part-time, and workers of either gender work fewer hours than Americans.

Lastly, Dutch parents do much less chauffeuring of children and elderly family members than American parents. Neighborhood schools and high-quality bike infrastructure in the Netherlands make it easy for Dutch kids to walk or bike to school, unlike their counterparts in America, where rates of bicycling and walking to school have been declining for decades. Dutch elderly are also much more independently mobile than their American counterparts.

Gosh, it’s almost like social policy can help improve lives or something, and that maybe design isn’t the whole story all the time, everywhere?

The authors recognize that design contributes to all of the factors they isolate: better design can enable children to make trips without being driven, and better design also means that travel for all errands could potentially gobble up less time, and they give design its due the report. But come on: screaming and yelling that the focus always has to be on design takes the focus off differences between men and women and how women’s oppression is tied to different amounts of work. I’m sure moving that focus off difference serves somebody, but it’s not likely women. Beyond that, it muddies how design exists in social contexts, and that just makes for bad planning and policy.

One thing I would like to know more about are differences among women. Both Dutch cities and American cities have significant populations of women of color and women from global immigration, and their differences in household and workforce status, along with differences in helping networks, strike me as being potentially quite interesting. Perhap it is in the working paper, which haven’t read yet.

#ReadUrbanandPlanningWomen2014 entry #22: Carolyn McAndrews

I recently met Carolyn McAndrews during a visit to UC Denver’s planning program. She’s doing really interesting work in transportation on street safety. The reason she’s so interesting is that her approach is highly empirical. Unlike the million and one designers in the world who pronounce what design aspects are safe, McAndrews actually does the work, as we say: she works from secondary data, or data she collects herself, to see how different street layouts and features affect safety, and–and this is the cool part–how the distribution of ‘safe’ streets differs across different socio-economic groups. At the center, it’s an environmental justice approach. Very cool stuff from a very promising young scholar.

Her web page is awesome, and it’s reminded me that I need to get off my duff and really spiff this place up. So yeah, that’s going to happen. Yessirree. But hers has all her publications laid out along with her research interests, where you can find the paper that I am going to discuss today:

McAndrews C, Florez J, Deakin E. 2006. “Views of the Street: Using Community Surveys to and Focus Groups to Inform Context-Sensitive Design.” Transportation Research Record, 1981:92-99.

This is a really nice example of applied planning research. So they have San Pablo Avenue, and it’s an urban arterial with a decent amount of traffic. The planning goal is to reshape it so it’s not just big street dominated by cars, but a multi-modal environment that people can use for walking and other modes as well. It runs through a bunch of neighborhoods, so the effort is actually looking at a corridor analysis. They do surveys on how residents use the corridor as it is, and they find that residents already do a lot of their shopping and other activities already along the corridor. The focus group activity, which sought input on what types of changes residents were interested in, found that walking was the main interest. McAndrews and her coauthors are a little more polite than I would be discussing the “I, Me, Mine” aspects of what emerged from the focus groups. Translated less gently than the authors do, what emerged from the neighborhood focus was (hardly a surprise) the desire there be more street amenities and businesses that serve residents. And mixed use retail is ok, as long as it is ‘within scale.’ Which every planner who does housing has heard a million times: you can bring me amenities, but don’t bring new residents in any number:

The focus group participants therefore want assurance that the new resi- dents have adequate off-street parking. They also want assurance that new developments will not look like “big-box” retail or “monolith” apartment buildings. Neighbors thought that the design of the build- ings is important—the height should not be out of scale with the surrounding neighborhood (most thought three and sometimes four stories would be suitable), and the building should convey a sense of permanency rather than temporary residence. They say that the possibility for new development should be analyzed with design in mind, and further, if reduced parking is going to be justified on the basis of transit proximity or walkability of the area, a detailed study should be produced to establish reasonable parking levels.

The residents also don’t buy the idea that you can just eliminate parking just because transit is available…

The authors are right; you can’t really ask residents to participate in the process to reveal their democratic preferences and then critique the results; that’s not good. But that’s why we have grumps like me to point it out.

#ReadUrbanandPlanningWomen2014 entry #21: Lisa Bates and Stacey Triplett

Apologies for all the typos. I’m in a rush.

Lisa Bates is an associate professor at Portland State University. The piece of hers I decided to read and report on is:

Bates, Lisa K. and Triplett, Stacey, “Getting Your House in Order: A Model for African-American Financial Education” (2014). Urban Studies and Planning Faculty Publications and Presentations. Paper 82.

This is a research report rather than a journal publication, but I like it so much and I think it’s so important that I wanted to circulate it anyway. The report examines how to develop financial training that helps African Americans attain home ownership. If you don’t understand why this is an issue, then you haven’t been paying attention. Banks may make a big show out of your down payments supposedly being the product of savings and not a gift, but most people get their downpayments from their parents or grandparents, who are homeowners themselves. When that isn’t true for you, being able to pull together enough money for a downpayment, particularly in the super heated markets along the coasts, can be an insuperable challenge.

On top of that, if you have never had parents, or known anybody else, with a mortgage who can help you, you face a bewildering array of issues when dealing with mortgages, and absolutely positively none of the professionals engaged in the industry have your best interests at heart. This is particularly true for black credit-seekers. Sometimes you get a really good mortgage broker in the mix–I did like and respect mine because he is a no-bs guy of guy–but honestly all of them are steeped in the industry jargon and blather on about things that make no sense to those of us outside the game: “You’ll be paying points if you do that.” Huh? The whole system is extremely byzantine, so that when you add the fact that it is stacked against black families, it’s hard to tell when you are being presented with wealth-stripping evil versus a decent deal that reflects your real credit-worthiness.

The gap in home ownership between black and white Americans is 45 to 76 percent, and that gap goes a long ways to explain differences in intergenerational wealth:

Persistently low homeownership rates contribute to the Pew Center’s finding that the average African American household has a net worth of just $6,446 compared to $91,405 for an average white household (2013).

There are many reasons for these differences, but most come down to discrimination in labor, housing, and financial services markets.

The rest of the report describes an educational program designed to foster financial skills tailored towards Black Americans and their experiences with white-dominated lending institutions, as well as ‘developing a healthy relationship’ with money. They use focus groups to evaluate the issues and the ideas that need to come into training directed at helping people get their finances set. One persistent finding was, simply, that most black participants over-estimated their credit rating. Frankly, I am surprised ANYBODY guesses their credit rating properly. Talk about a rigged game.

The training topics that emerged stress ways of thinking and feeling about money as well, in a way that reaffirms individuals’ entitlement to use their money for their own priorities and security.

The results here are good: some debt reductions–I have no idea what would be sizable here– and increases in savings and credit scores among participants. One quote I thought was particularly apt:

“I learned more how to protect my credit…being comfortable to sit in front of this guy that doesn’t look like me and ask him questions before I apply for something, because I’m more informed. And so I feel more empowered…And I’ve built myself up.”

This strikes me itself as a pretty good use of education. Congratulations!

#ReadUrbanandPlanningWomen2014 entry #20 Annette Kim

Annette Kim recently joined our faculty here at USC, and she’s a specialist in international development who works in Asia. She’s got a long cv, but today I am going to write about her first book:

Learning to be Capitalists: Entrepreneurs in Vietnam’s transition economy. Oxford University Press, 2008.

Ok, before we start, I have to share my favorite line in the book:

The study of capitalism (and Communism) is an ideological minefield filled with caricatures.


This book presents Kim’s dissertation research in Ho Chi Minh City studying Vietnam as a transitioning economy. For decades, many believed Vietnam would be one of the least likely states to succeed in transitioning their economy. Kim suggests that the comparatively rapid changes in transition economies have to do with “social cognition.” Capitalism is a culture and a set of norms as much as it is an institution. People thus have to learn how to do it, and social conditions vary systematically in fostering that learning. Her study traces how individuals learn to behave as capitalists as they interact with others doing the same–thereby changing a place and culture. The research triangulates between state actions to foster capitalist growth with following business owners as they learn to grasp the stakes and rules, and also as they learn how to innovate in their particular contexts.

She’s interested primarily in real estate, so the story begins from a difficult position: property rights are unstable and ostensibly collectively held, so that anybody who goes forward believing they have the entitlement to developt might, actually, be wrong and find they have invested in property that might get expropriated. In addition, there is the development of the permitting and approvals process to get going at the same time that developers are hoping to get stuff done. That’s a problem everywhere, but in a place where protocols and private plans evolve at the same time, it adds even more risk to what is already a risky venture. Nonetheless, people figured it out, and as Kim shows, they figured it out primarily through social and political connections which represent a risk minimization strategy.

I’ll let you read the book–it’s beautifully written–to get the rest, but one point: she does discuss state-sponsored planning and what they did to boost capitalism, and it comes back to the old saw: infrastructure. They developed various plans and urban districts in Ho Chi Minh City, but I strongly suspect much of the planning support for real estate came in the form it usually does: streets, roads, transit, water, sewer, electricity, etc. etc.


She has another book, Sidewalk City: Re-mapping Public Space in Ho Chi Minh City. University of Chicago Press, coming out in 2015, so we can look forward to that.

#ReadUrbanandPlanningWomen2014 entry #19 Katrin Anacker

Today I am going to write about Katrin Anacker at George Mason, whose home page can be found here. I first met Katrin when she was a post-doc at Virginia Tech’s Metropolitan Institute, and it was clear even then that she is, simply, one of the brightest folks working in planning right now. It’s hard to chose to something to highlight, as she has a long cv already, and she contributes interesting things to both queer urbanism and housing, but I always think her contributions regarding spatial change and suburbia are the most useful to a general urban audience.


Anacker, K. B. (2013). Immigrating, assimilating, cashing in? Analyzing property values in suburbs of immigrant gateways. Housing Studies, 28(5), 720-745. doi:10.1080/02673037.2013.75824

This paper looks at whether suburban home values are holding for immigrant owners in American suburbs. Home-ownership, as I have noted many, many times here, is a means of wealth-building, particularly in the United States, and one of the big questions, following the housing bust, is whether that will continue to be true. Plenty of suburban homeowners got soaked, and Anacker here examines where immigrant with language barriers are locating. This an in-depth analysis that poses three questions using commonly used typology in the literature that breaks immigrant gateways into different types, ranging by whether the gateway was historically important, continues to be, or seems to be becoming a gateway ((1) former gateways, (2) continuous gateways, (3) Post-World War II gateways, (4) emerging gateways, (5) re-emerging gateways, and (6) pre-emerging gateways). Anacker uses American Community Housing data to ask:

  1. Are there differences in the median values of owner-occupied housing units?
  2. Are there differences in the changes in the median values of owner-occupied housing units (2000 to 2005/2009)?
  3. Are there differences in the factors that influence the median values of owner-occupied housing units?

So first, it seems as though there are pretty different groups of immigrants flocking to gateways within the typology, and that falls along inner-city and suburban gateway locations. In general, though, values were higher in suburban gateways, and those gateways did retain their value from 2000 to 2009, despite the downturn. Part of this reflects the comparative success of gateways on the coasts and coastal markets.

For the second-order question regarding changes in value, Anacker finds that pre-emerging gateways tend to have lower values, which she attributes to their location in regional south and southwest rather than coastal markets. It also seems to me that emerging gateways are likely to serve people who may not be entering into housing markets via family connections of established immigrants, as would likely happen less in places that were already established gateways. The lower prices would also be helpful to new arrivals.

The last question finds that median values really depend on the type of gateway, with:

Re-emerging, emerging, continuous, and Post-World War II immigrant gateways had a positive coefficient, indicating their locations in metropolitan areas that are characterized by overall economic success (e.g., Washington, DC, Portland, Seattle, Boston, and Los Angeles). Former immigrant gateways had a negative coefficient, confirming their location in the Rust Belt, with its falling incomes, high unemployment, and the decreasing importance of manufacturing (e.g., Baltimore, Buffalo, Cleveland, and Detroit).

p. 732 in the original.

There is some nice modeling work here in the analysis, and takeaway is that whether immigrants are building wealth via suburban homeownership really depends on what you mean by suburb–which suburbs, which immigrants.

According to her cv, she is also working on edited volume due out here in 2015: Anacker, Katrin B., ed. (2015). The New American Suburb: Poverty, Race, and the Economic Crisis. Farnham: Ashgate, so that’s to be looked forward to.

#ReadUrbanandPlanningWomen2014 entry #18: Alice O’Connor

This week’s entry was inspired by the lunch discussion at the Bedrosian Center on this piece by Ta-Nehisi Coates on reparations, and its follow up bibliography. The group of scholars at the discussion noted that Coates’ highlighted some work on Federal Housing policy that was essentially unknown. I objected and noted that while mainstream understanding of these issue may be new, housing policy folks have known for a very long time that HOLC and the US Housing Act of 1949 had extremely serious consequences for racial discrimination. The work that Coates cites in the article, Ian Shapiro, was published in 1995; he quotes objections to the policies from contemporary housing experts in 1955, like Charles Abrams. The research on zoning’s contribution to redlining goes back to the 1970s and 1980s as far as I know (and I’m not a specialist; I could be wrong; it could be sooner.) Zoning and redlining go hand-in-glove, and policy and planning can not beg ignorance on these issues. We’ve known this, or had it pointed out, for at least 60 years. Just like both white and black abolitionists with slavery, plenty of people knew that official public policies were wrong, and they hardly kept quiet about it. The choice to ignore or drown out those voices was a choice, not a mere reflection of a culture or a people that didn’t know better.

Nonetheless, it looks like Beryl Satter’s 2009 book on Chicago, Family Properties: How the Struggle Over Race and Real Estate Transformed Chicago and Urban America is truly a must-read. Going on my wish-list.

I personally learned the material in my MPL program from the brilliant Heather MacDonald, who had us read Alice O’Connor, a historian of US public policy. The piece that had a big influence on me was:

O’Connor, Alice. 1999. “Swimming Against the Tide: A Brief History of Federal Policy in Poor Communities.” In Urban Problems and Community Development, Ronald F. Ferguson and William T. Dickens (eds). pp. 77-109. Washintong, DC: The Brookings Institution.

This wonderful piece outlines federal policy involvement in impoverished communities throughout the United States from the New Deal onward, and it has a wonderful insight: that place-based initiatives tend to be lavish, efficient, and hidden for affluent Americans, but stingy, convoluted and high-profile when it comes to poverty:

“A [fifth] pattern is that in its treatment of poor communities, federal policy has operated within a two-tiered system of provision that marks U.S. social policy. In this system poor communities, like poor individuals, are assisted through an elaborate concatenation of means-tested programs, while their wealthier counterparts are subsidized throughout through essentially invisible, federalized, non-means-tested subsidies such as highway funds, state universities, home mortgage assistance, and tax preferences. Poor communities are targeted as places for public assistance–public housing, public works, public income provision–while the middle class is serviced by nominally private but heavily subsidized means.”

She goes on to write about how racial discrimination became encoded in community development policy–a nice overview for people looking to understand the differences in how the US provides social policy.

Brettany Shannon has written about this piece as it was anthologized in the Community Development Reader. Her review appears here, and you should go read.

#ReadUrbanandPlanningWomen2014 entry #17: JoAnn Carmin

I’m sad this morning posting this, as today I am writing about the work of JoAnn Carmin, a professor at DUSP at MIT, who passed away recently after her second bout with cancer. JoAnn was a major scholar in environmental justice, and I admire her work tremendously. Her students thought very highly of her, and she will be greatly missed in the scholarly world. JoAnn’s work centered mostly on international and development perspectives on environmental justice. She has many papers, but I will refer us to her body of edited work and her own book contribution.

JoAnn Carmin and Julian Agyeman (editors). 2011. Environmental Inequalities Beyond Borders: Local Perspectives on Global Injustices. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Adam Fagan and JoAnn Carmin (editors). 2011. Green Activism in Post-Socialist Europe and the Former Soviet Union. London: Routledge.

JoAnn Carmin and Stacy D. VanDeveer (editors). 2005. EU Enlargement and the Environment: Institutional Change and Environmental Policy in Central and Eastern Europe, London: Routledge.

Tomas Koontz, Toddi A. Steelman, JoAnn Carmin, Katrina Smith Korfmacher, Cassandra Moseley, and Craig Thomas. 2004. Collaborative Environmental Management: What Roles for Government? Washington, DC: Resources for the Future.

#ReadUrbanandPlanningWomen2014 entry #16: Stephanie Frank

I’m a bit behind with ReadUrbanandPlanningWomen2014, but I will keep going. I’ve always been a slow worker. What are you going to do besides keep plugging away at it?

This week I discuss the work of Stephanie Frank, who is one of my students, which means the work is brilliant and perfect in every way and anybody who says otherwise gets a knuckle sandwich. Stephanie has left our beloved USC, and she is now an assistant professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

The paper of hers I am going to highlight is:

Frank, S. (2012). Claiming hollywood: Boosters, the film industry, and Metropolitan Los Angeles. Journal of Urban History, 38(1), 71-88. doi:10.1177/009614421142064

The year is 1937; the place is a then-small, but rapidly urbanizing, region in southern California. There is money being made in film industry, and by selling the idea of “Hollywood.” Culver City boosters get the smart idea to rename themselves from the prosaic–and, frankly, Midwestern-sounding, Culver City to Hollywood. (Not accidental: Culver City took its name from an early pioneer from Nebraska.) Even today, Hollywood is a district or a neighborhood. Despite multiple pushes for secession, Hollywood is part of the larger city of Los Angeles. Culver City, however, is not. My use of the present tense is a spoiler: boosters failed, and to this day, Culver City remains plain old Culver City, though it is a very nice place to live with lots of wonderful things to do.

I let you read the manuscript for the full story of how and why the boosters attempt failed; let’s just say it’s a story of big-fish elite of one type, and bigger-fish elites of another type, and one (of many ways) the movie industry made its spatial impact on the geography of Los Angeles.

Stephanie wrote her very fine dissertation on movie studios as land developers under the direction of David Sloane, Greg Hise, and Bill Deverell, and she should have a book coming out shortly. Keep your eyes peeled for it, and for future work. My auntie-like bias notwithstanding, she really is a fine young scholar.