planning school

LGBT Issues & Urban Ag (Pt. 1)

by Doug Norman . 0 Comments

In my Urban Ag class, which as predicted was one of my two faves last semester, each student was asked to present on an article, book chapter, film, or other resource related to the course topic. They were all fascinating and informative and I may follow up on some of them here. But for now, I’ll share mine. It was prompted by the instructor discussing food access and justice issues in relation to race, class, gender, and sexuality. She outlined how those markers make a difference in terms of how people interact with food systems, but when she got to sexuality she was stumped about what issues might pertain. So I thought, that sounds like a research question tailor made for Doug: My dissertation work centered around queer bodies and performance. This presentation was a nice chance to bridge from my past career to my new one! Not all of these topics relate directly to urban agriculture, but they all have to do with food systems issues and as such are part of the equation.

Food Insecurity
In the Williams Institute report on LGBT food insecurity (February 2014), Gary Gates points out that information is difficult to come by because the USDA does not include sexual orientation or gender identity information that would allow for a direct measure. His report is based on analysis of three national population-based surveys that include data on food insecurity and SNAP participation. Key findings:

  • More than 1 in 4 LGBT adults (29%), approximately 2.4 million people, experienced a time in the last year when they did not have enough money to feed themselves or their family.
  • More than one 1 in 5 LGB adults aged 18-44 (21%), approximately 1.1 million people, participated in the SNAP program through receipt of food stamps in the past year.
  • An estimated 28% of bisexual women and bisexuals aged 18-24 report SNAP participation. More than a third (34%) of bisexuals with a high school education or less, one in five White bisexuals (21%), nearly half of African-American bisexuals (47%) and 39% of multiracial bisexuals report participating in SNAP.
  • Only one of the surveys asked about gender identity, so there is very little data on food insecurity in the trans community.

Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 3.54.05 PM

I thought the findings about bisexual-identified folks were especially interesting. I wonder if that has more to do with class factors; i.e., do more working class people tend to identify as bi rather than gay? Maybe a combination of that and marginalization from the mainstream gay and lesbian communities. The lack of data for the trans community is troubling and points to an area of much needed research, especially given what we do know about poverty and homelessness among young trans people.

Note: Although I gave a quick 10-minute summary presentation of this in my Urban Agriculture class, the text seemed too much for one blog post. So I’ve split it into three posts.

The Rational Protocol

by Doug Norman . 0 Comments

Theory in an applied profession? Planning theory arose in academia during the post-WWII planning boom. As planning departments grew, social science methods replaced design-centered curriculum. The scientific method and knowledge trumped both design aesthetics and progressive moral imperatives. With increasing specialization, designers weren’t prepared for the legal, economic, and logistical complexities of planning work.

The professional protocol, in drawing on the presuppositions of the rational planning model, either banishes the the politics of uncertainty entirely or  translates these political relationships into methodological presuppositions and procedures… Practitioners adopt the rational model as a rhetorical device to legitimize their professional persona as an expert. (Hoch 51)

Hoch argues that, while this may make sense for bureaucratic planners, it’s debilitating for planners not vested with bureaucratic authority. The rational protocol constructs the planner as an apolitical  expert doing good science and makes their relationship to power an precarious one.  For example, “Man with a Mission” Tom’s commitment to the protocol and the objectivity of professional expertise blinded him to the political compromises he needed to keep his job. “Dangling Practitioner” Martin rejected courting a local power player–which he viewed as damaging to his professional integrity–in promoting a rational cooperative development plan between his organization and the city and was “left dangling between the powers of craft and the powers of coercion” (Hoch 69). Craft, coercion, and consent define the power relationships within which planners practice and they treat them as discreet or unrelated at their own peril. Successful planners embrace the interconnected complexity of these powers.