Keeping Place in ‘Smart’ Cities: Situating the Settlement House as a Means of Knowing and Belonging in the Informational City

“Keeping Place in Smart Cities” will bring together scholars, students, and settlement houses from NYC and London to better understand and support marginalized communities working to keep pace and place amidst uneven informational development. Specifically, the project will develop a countertopography of smart urbanism that unflattens how belonging is both reproduced and dispossessed within and across urban contexts.

“Smart urbanism” refers to the embedding of networked technologies and algorithms into daily life as well as the reorienting of urban economies toward high-tech production. Established during industrialization, settlement houses are rarely figured into such ‘smart’ designs despite being internationally networked multi-service centers committed to strengthening the collective assets and capacities of communities. This collaboration will build on my “Designing Smart Cities for Social Justice” course’s three year partnership with the Lincoln Square Neighborhood Center. To date, the course has co-designed a series 1 of technology workshops with a community experiencing intense policing, segregation, and threat of displacement while watching public investment pour into high-end developments such as the Hudson Yards and Amazon HQ2.