This book draws on the author’s own vast experience as an activist to make links between a theory of practice with rich discussion of the histories of conflicts over public space. Each chapter examines activist responses to a range of issues that have confronted New Yorkers, from the struggle for green space and non-polluting transportation, for housing and the fight for sexual civil liberties. The cases are shaped through interplay between multiple data sources, including the author’s own voice as an observing participant, as well as interviews with other participant activists, historic accounts and theoretical discussion. Taken together, these highlight a story of urban public space movements and the ways they shape cities and are shaped by history.
How can we build and sustain community in urban neighborhoods? Ben Shepard deftly melds centuries of theory and decades of insights from seasoned activists to produce compelling answers. Shepard playfully paints vibrant portraits of potent campaigns to reclaim and remake public spaces for the common good. From mobilizations to protect affordable housing, community gardens, bike lanes, and public health, to innovative efforts to create economic and social justice for all, Shepard forges viable pathways towards a desirable 21st century. A must read for engaged scholars and activists seeking to make a sustainable urbanism.