The vast majority of people in the industrial world, and now a majority of the world’s people altogether, live in or near large cities.  Some are mega-cities, caused by crises and a source of suffering. Under any rational order, they would not exist . Others are treasures, centers of culture and learning. Most are somewhere in between. In any case, they are the locus of politics and the struggle for change. All matter relation to them, from urban design to community organizing, will be the focus of this department.

Film: The Interrupters

The Interrupters tells the moving and surprising stories of three ‘Violence Interrupters’ who try to protect their Chicago communities from the violence they once employed. From acclaimed director Steve James and bestselling author Alex Kotlowitz, this film is an unusually intimate journey into the stubborn persistence of violence in our cities. Shot over the course of a year out of Kartemquin Films, The Interrupters captures a period in Chicago when it became a national symbol for the violence in our cities.  115 Minutes. Access Here

David Harvey Introduces ‘Rebel Cities’ Cities are where most of the wealth in our society is created, and where the exploiters and exploited rub shoulders. From slums to skyscrapers, cities provide the backdrop to the battles that will shape our future. David Harvey, acclaimed writer and academic and pioneer of Marxist geography, presents his latest book, taking examples from around the world to explain how cities have been, and will continue to be, the main arena of struggle against capitalism and its affects. 50-minute video lecture. Access Here

The Future of Smart Cities

Saskia Sassen, a leading researcher on globalization, global cities, and new technologies,  discusses the current hype around smart cities. She reminds us, “It is the need to design a system that puts all that technology truly at the service of the inhabitants—and not the other way around.” 30-minute video. Access Here

The Tragedy of Suburbia

In James Howard Kunstler’s view, public spaces should be inspired centers of civic life and the physical manifestation of the common good. Instead, he argues, what we have in America is a nation of places not worth caring about. 20 Minute Video, one of seven in ‘The Long Emergency’ series. Access Here

Community-Owned Enterprise and Civic Participation

Three hours on workshops on the tension between capitalism and democracy in urban development with presentations by Lynn Benander and Shakoor Aljawani. Access Here

Urban Utopias

One hour and a 45-minute video.  Speaker: David Harvey, CUNY Graduate Center, New York Readings on Urban Utopias in Theory and Practice. Access Here

Sprawling From Grace: The Consequences of Suburbanization

A documentary feature film about the unintended consequences of suburban sprawl. It illustrates the importance of altering the course of how we develop our nation’s cities. It communicates the dangers of continuing to invest in the inefficient horizontal growth patterns of suburban communities and details how they threaten to bankrupt the remaining wealth of our nation. It explores how the depletion of fossil fuels will impact this living arrangement and investigates the viability of alternative energies that are currently available. This film sounds the alarm that the cheap fossil-fuel-dependent suburban American way of life is not just at risk. It is in peril!

Access Here

The Urbanisation of Class Struggle 

One-Hour Presentation by David Harvey at the Marxism 2012 Conference in the UK. Access Here

Downloadable book: City of Quartz by Mike Davis. The author peers into a looking glass to divine the future of Los Angeles. What he sees is not encouraging: a city–or better, a concatenation of competing city-states–torn by racial enmity, economic disparity, and social anomie. Looking backward, Davis suggests that Los Angeles has always been contested ground. In the 1840s, he writes, a combination of drought and industrial stock raising led to the destruction of small-scale Spanish farming in the region. In the 1910s, Los Angeles was the scene of a bitter conflict between management and industrial workers, so bitter that the publisher of the Los Angeles Times retreated to a heavily fortified home he called “The Bivouac.” And in 1992, much of the city fell before flames and riots in a scenario Davis describes as thus: “Gangs are multiplying at a terrifying rate, cops are becoming more arrogant and trigger-happy, and a whole generation is being shunted toward some impossible Armageddon.” Davis’s voice-in-a-whirlwind approach to the past, present, and future of Los Angeles is alarming and arresting, and his book is essential reading for anyone interested in contemporary affairs. –Gregory MacNamee

CALIFORNIA DREAMING is a 50-minute documentary showing how Davis’s analysis looks today. California is a strong brand, the state of new beginnings, dreams and movie stars, of surfers, and an excellent climate. But the Golden State is bankrupt, and the city of Los Angeles is running out of cash. Public services are being cut, and unemployment keeps rising. At the same time, optimism, entrepreneurship, and the belief in the power of America are stronger than ever. Who are the pioneers who are reinventing the new America, and how do they see the future?

Director: Bregtje van der Haak

TOP TEN ‘TED TALKS’ ON CITIES.  Recommended by, the solidarity economy site.

  • The New Slavery: Al-Jazeera’s ‘Fault Line’ looks at Baltimore’s Youth Crisis The election of the first black US president offered hope to millions of African Americans across the country. But have four years of an Obama presidency seen positive change for black communities in the US’ inner cities? Fault Lines’ Sebastian Walker spends time with those on the front lines of the failed drug war to understand some fundamental dynamics of race, poverty, incarceration and economic truths in the US in an election year. Good discussion starter. 27 minutes.