To the start of the academic year 2020-21 in Groningen, I was asked to deliver a short pitch (‘Pint of Science’) on the future of the Netherlands in 2050. In my function as a a coordinator of the Master Society, Sustainability and Planning (SSP), I looked at the programme and developed my own view that I will hereby share in a few words. I have deliberately chosen a positive story here that aims to motivate, given the amount of environmental and social problems visible to us.Continue reading
The future of academic work might look different than it used to be. We will not see the re-emergence of larger venues and (international) conferences before at least early 2021. While small-scale meetings become possible again, gathering with hundreds of people from different countries in one place seems to be of a distant past. Travel restrictions provide unequal opportunities to participate in academic events depending on locations. However, there is something in between going and not going. The sustainability of (large) conferences was in question long before Corona made the reduction of travels an immediate health necessity (see e.g. Wenner et al. 2019). Hybrid conferencing (digital & physical combined) and hybrid academics may be on the rise. In February 2020, without knowing about upcoming Corona restrictions, we engaged in a hybrid format in Dortmund on “Post-growth from international planning perspectives: Digital roundtable on the future of planning in a post-growth world”.Continue reading
We live in an extreme situation in most countries since mid of March 2020. It can hardly be expressed with words in any of our languages. We are moved to see impacts as well as strong collective measures taken in Europe and worldwide. We all live in space and we will continue to live and plan in space. The more we get knowledge and control over COVID-19, the more we will be able to think ahead and to restart a collective debate on spatial visions, their ethical/moral foundations and ways to organize and lead them. I am active in discovering future possibilities for spatial planning, changes induced by Corona and our means to lead spatial development in times of crisis.Continue reading
It sounds easy: let’s make our work online. We can discuss online, we can meet and even have social events online. We can video conference with family, friends and colleagues at any time and, so far, mostly with reliable networks. This is an amazing and sudden success of digitalization that was unforeseen and deemed impossible only a few weeks ago. It also brought people together (again), supported networks of help and support and made neighbors recognize each other’s immediate needs. However, this produces new forms of exclusion beyond general questions of access to technology and internet. There are a number of groups that get out of sight if we #stayathome and that need our special attention as spatial planners. Usually, we would see these groups outside and using our public spaces, our infrastructures and being usual part of our urban or rural life.Continue reading
While we #stayathome, we experience an amazing speed in developing ways to continue spatial planning work through the digital means we have available. Digital transformation of society and of our lives is actually happening and becomes tangible for each and all of us. In an extraordinary speed do universities switch to 100 % online education, cutting off all physical contacts, excursions and field work and continuing with a diverse range of lectures, seminars and events. Some of these developments will provide role models for future global work and education. However, this is not without new questions for our profession of spatial planning.Continue reading
The new decade starts in 2020 with intensified talks about environmental change, climate change and a global crisis. These challenges do not only excel the global dimension of human activity. They also exhibit the emergence and growth of strong social movements like ‘Fridays for Future’, ‘Extinction Rebellion’ and many more.Continue reading
On 6th April 2019, I was invited to be part of the 300 younger people invited to the Obama Town Hall Europe in Berlin. It was a great honour to take part in these inspiring discussions. Barack Obama covered a wide range of topics from democracy in general to leadership and to communication, problem-solving, hate and social media. He did not talk about cities in particular and not about spatial planning. However, much of his talk relates to ways how we live together and what we need to have in mind when deciding about organizing our urban and rural spaces.Continue reading
Some weeks have passed since I left Detroit in mid-August. But the city has remained in my mind with deep impressions and thoughts on urban development, fast urban changes and the striking question: who leads? Many actors are involved in spatial changes in Detroit, in a diverse set of roles. From my impressions, it seems necessary to disaggregate leadership to different roles with associated actors. A diverse set of people pushes Detroit forward, but yet with limited integration. The following paragraphs outline exploratory and open thoughts from my German perspective.Continue reading
Ten days in Detroit provided me with some more insights into how the city works and what lies behind recent changes. Many conversations yielded deep insights, but also puzzled me with further questions and issues around the role of planners in processes of urban change and renewal. Time to wrap up some still preliminary and unfinished ideas.
The last four days between Thursday and Monday provided many experiences and insights into different parts of Detroit, its ongoing changes and its people. Not enough for any concluding thoughts, but just enough for some ideas. The following paragraphs are therefore some unorganized impressions that are preliminary, might change during the next weeks and themselves include more questions than answers.