Professor of urban planning Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris was featured on KPCC’s AirTalk discussing the viability of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s revised plan to build a bullet train from Bakersfield to Merced. In his State of the State address, Newsom declared that the original plan to build a high-speed rail line between Los Angeles and San Francisco would cost too much and take too long, and surprised the audience by announcing the curtailed Central Valley line. Transportation experts including Loukaitou-Sideris have stressed the importance of having enough passenger demand to make the 160-mile line worthwhile. Loukaitou-Sideris expressed her “dismay at cost overruns and lack of efficient management,” arguing that “high-speed transit needs to connect high concentrations of people in centers at the origin and at the destination.” She said it is not necessary to stop the project completely but recommended “better planning, more transparency, and increased involvement from local stakeholders and the private sector.”
Women have good reason to be concerned for their safety and fear harassment on public transportation, according to UCLA Luskin’s Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris, who has studied women’s use of transit around the world for decades. “We know that women are much more afraid than men,” commented the UCLA urban planning professor in a Wired story about new research on the overall experiences of riders, especially women, on public transportation. “As expected, many more women are sexually harassed, and it is a big concern and extremely under-reported,” Loukaitou-Sideris said, suggesting that better strategies — like more lighting at and around stations and more working staff nearby — be implemented so that riders feel safer when using public transportation. Loukaitou-Sideris also commented on KPCC 89.3 radio’s “Air Talk” regarding ways to increase ridership and make transit safer for women.
In an effort to identify solutions to improve the lives of older adults and people of all ages and abilities, the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs and USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology, with the support of AARP, recently conducted surveys of diverse, older Angelenos, exploring their travel patterns, use of technology, and the mobility problems they face.
“We united on one common goal, the importance for understanding community needs, opportunities, and barriers that can support, create and sustain livable and age-friendly communities in Los Angeles,” said Nancy McPherson, State Director of AARP. “We know that the more connected and engaged people are with their community, the more likely they are to age successfully and remain living in their homes for as long as possible, as the vast majority wish to do.”
The UCLA research team focused on identifying mobility and travel patterns by conducting focus groups and interviews with 81 older adults in the neighborhoods of Koreatown, Westlake and East Hollywood, including adults visiting St. Barnabas Senior Services (SBSS), a local organization that provides health and social services. The UCLA report, “Bolstering Mobility and Transportation Options for Low-Income Older Adults,” found that:
- Participants expressed difficulty in getting around, often endure long transit trips and uncomfortable or scary walking environments and social hazards that could cause them to trip and fall, significantly reducing their independence and quality of life.
- For many, walking around their neighborhoods is the primary mode of transportation; however, there are significant physical and social impediments that constrain mobility.
- A small number own cars and many rely on family and friends to drive them. Use of point-to-point travel services (e.g., taxis, ride-hailing services) is rare and constrained by finances.
- Many lack competency with technology to order ride-hailing services.
- Mobility constraints affect the number and frequency of trips.
- Differences exist among study participants in regard to the numbers of social and recreational trips. Older adults visiting SBSS take a larger number of daily trips and have a higher likelihood of making social and recreational trips than those who are not visiting SBSS.
“Mobility affects the quality of life. Decreased mobility means also decreased access to city amenities or jobs, and socialization opportunities, as well as a higher risk for social isolation. Our findings suggest that certain improvements both in the physical environment and in the transit and paratransit services can help increase the mobility of low-income, older adults, and we articulate these improvements in our report,” said Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris, Associate Dean of the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs. “We are welcoming the opportunity to join forces with the AARP and our USC colleagues and advocate for more age-friendly California cities.”
For more information on the UCLA Lewis Center for Regional Policy Studies report, “Bolstering Mobility and Transportation Options for Low-Income Older Adults,” .
In recent years, there has been a growing focus on the consequences of loneliness and isolation, especially among older adults. While adoption of technology and social media has the potential to reduce isolation, issues such as cost, disinterest and lack of the skills needed to use various devices may hinder older adults’ adoption. Los Angeles’ ethnically, linguistically and geographically diverse population of older adults made it an ideal location for the USC Leonard School of Gerontology to explore how this population uses technology and the extent to which they believe it can improve connectivity and reduce isolation.
The USC research team conducted six focus groups in English, Spanish and Korean at SBSS with 48 older adults living in a low-income area of Los Angeles, home to a diverse, largely immigrant population. Key findings from this report, “Aging in Place in Los Angeles: Recognizing Challenges to Social Connectedness,” include:
- A relatively high use of some technology among this engaged group, as well as a wide range in social connectivity with family, friends, and members of the community;
- Although some older adults did not have the resources or the desire to use technology, others used mobile phones, smart phones, tablets, and computers – either in combination or alone – for purposes of contacting their family and friends, accessing health care information, getting the news, shopping, and watching television;
- Cost, disinterest, and lack of the skills needed to use various devices hindered older adults’ adoption of technology and social media;
- Many older adults indicated a reluctance to adopt newer technology because they preferred to communicate in-person and they expressed concerns that technology is too complicated or too expensive; others used it for entertainment, to plan local and long-distance travels, and to communicate with their loved ones.
“Our findings suggest that although technology isn’t a cure all for loneliness, it can be a tool in the tool box for addressing social isolation. Policy makers and tech developers need to consider how older adults currently use technology, how it can better suit their needs, and barriers that prevent them from using it effectively,” said Kate Wilber, USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology professor. “We are thankful that AARP and our UCLA collaborators recognize the importance of addressing social isolation and look forward to working toward solutions that benefit older adults in Los Angeles and beyond.”
For more information on USC’s “Disrupting Isolation in Housing for an Aging Population,” click here.
The UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation featured Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris in its Luskin Innovators Speaker Series on May 17, 2018. Loukaitou-Sideris, professor of urban planning and Associate Provost for Academic Planning at UCLA, presented her team’s research on opportunities to use technology to make urban parks more efficient, environmentally sustainable and better able to serve visitors. A panel discussion, led by Norma Garcia MA UP ’99, chief deputy director of the Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation, brought together representatives from the Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust, Trust for Public Land, and Cisco Systems, Inc. The panelists discussed the challenges faced by park managers and designers, including funding gaps, underutilization and ongoing maintenance, and the ways that technology can help overcome these challenges. They also explored the many benefits technology can provide to park visitors, including broader engagement opportunities, free Wi-Fi access and renewed interest in parks. Finally, the group brainstormed ideas for innovative partnerships that could bring together technology companies, nonprofits and park managers. The Luskin Center for Innovation’s novel approach of using technology to address under-resourced urban parks resulted in SMART Parks: A Toolkit for park planners and managers. — Kelsey Jessup MPP ’15
By George Foulsham
The burgeoning world of smart technology includes everything from phones and televisions to thermostats and voice-activated home assistants. Now, thanks to the Luskin Center for Innovation at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, you can add neighborhood parks to the “smart” category.
The Luskin Center has just released “SMART Parks: A Toolkit” to highlight how technology can enhance the efficiency of — and more comfortable access to — public spaces.
What makes a park smart?
“A smart park uses technology to achieve equitable access, enhanced health, safety, resilience, water and energy efficiency, and effective operations and maintenance,” said Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris, professor of urban planning and associate dean at UCLA Luskin, who led a small team of researchers and UCLA students on the SMART Parks project.
The toolkit, which is intended for park managers, designers, landscape architects, advocates and anyone who wishes to learn how technology can be incorporated into parks, is a compilation of technologies that cities and counties can use to make parks smarter.
The 275-page guide is organized by pertinent chapters — activity spaces, digital landscapes, hardscapes, lighting, irrigation, softscapes, stormwater management and urban furniture.
The kit includes a wide range of technologies that can be utilized in parks to provide benefits:
- Interactive play sets that increase park accessibility for children with physical and mental disabilities by providing language, game and noise settings that can be adjusted by park management to meet community needs.
- Path pavement materials that are more comfortable for older adults, making them feel welcome in parks and encouraging them to walk, thus improving their health.
- Energy-generating exercise equipment that charges cellphones while providing users with free access to physical activity.
- Irrigation controllers that conserve water by optimizing watering patterns in each park area depending on microclimate and soil type.
- Soils that improve groundwater infiltration and remove pollutants from stormwater runoff, thus improving local water quality.
- Self-healing concrete that reduces maintenance and replacement needs by preventing and healing cracks in park infrastructure, thus reducing park management costs.
The toolkit also includes guidance on how to navigate the challenges associated with the park management process, such as staff training and cost constraints, and provides an overview of potential funding strategies to help create SMART Parks.
“The toolkit’s aim is to address concerns about park underutilization, high maintenance costs, and water and energy waste by rethinking the neighborhood park so that it becomes ‘smart.’ Parks represent assets for cities, but in an era of limited municipal resources and concerns about energy and water usage, they have also been viewed as liabilities,” Loukaitou-Sideris said.
The researchers emphasize that the toolkit is a starting point for park managers, landscape professionals, local government, nonprofits and interested community members to gain information on technological innovations and their potential benefits for parks.
More research is needed, they add, to ensure that the technologies and their benefits are appropriate for specific parks.
A downloadable copy of the SMART Parks toolkit is now online.
By Zev Hurwitz
The late John Friedmann is widely regarded as having pioneered the field of urban planning theory.
“Some call him the ‘Pope of planning’; others call him the ‘Father of Urban Planning,’” said Martin Wachs, distinguished professor emeritus of urban planning, during a memorial for Friedmann on Nov. 2, 2017. “He always chuckled and giggled about those labels, and he really didn’t take them seriously,” Wachs said, pausing and then lowering his voice. “I think, secretly inside, he really did.”
This mix of honorific praise, bittersweet memory and wry humor was commonplace as friends, family, former colleagues and Luskin students — current and past — joined together at the UCLA Faculty Center to remember Friedmann, who passed away in June at the age of 91. In addition to his work in urban planning theory, Friedmann presided over the founding of Urban Planning at UCLA in 1968 and served as its chair four times.
“While this is a memorial to celebrate John, it’s impossible to avoid feeling sad,” current chair of Urban Planning Vinit Mukhija said in his opening remarks.
Mukhija noted that Friedmann had remained close with the Luskin School of Public Affairs even after leaving Los Angeles in the late 1990s when his career and personal life took him to Melbourne, Australia, and then to Vancouver, British Columbia. At the time of his death, the department was hoping to have Friedmann return to Westwood to teach the Planning Theory course in the Ph.D. program, Mukhija told the crowd of more than 50 attendees.
“I think it would have been terrific for our doctoral students to have that, but unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be,” Mukhija said.
Mukhija, Wachs and others spoke of Friedmann’s elite standing in the field of urban planning. Friedmann wrote 18 books and more than 200 book chapters and articles. By themselves, his writings are cited more frequently than the aggregate works of any single planning program in the country, except for the Luskin School’s Department of Urban Planning.
“He was the intellectual force behind what we call ‘planning theory,’” Wachs said, noting that Friedmann also taught at MIT and in countries such as Brazil, Chile and Korea, as well as providing guest lectures at major universities around the world.
Friedmann’s accomplishments were many, but those in attendance also heard about a few of his foibles. Longtime love and wife Leonie Sandercock talked less of Friedmann the educator and more of Friedmann the man: “I feel so lucky to have spent 32 years next to this man, who I adored, and I struggled with and I rolled my eyes at, and I shared my life with. I’m happy that his life touched so many others.”
Sandercock and Friedmann fell in love while corresponding via handwritten letters as pen pals when Friedmann was at UCLA and Sandercock was in her native Australia. A highly accomplished planner herself, Sandercock said Friedmann’s intellectual acumen never waned. “He was still living fully,” Sandercock said of her husband’s final days.
Friedmann was often reflective, Sandercock said, telling of a recent encounter after a walk through nature, when Friedmann ticked off the “lucky things” that had led him to this point in life. Meeting Sandercock was one, she said with a smile. Being denied tenure at MIT was another — it led him to pursue career-changing research in Chile. And then there was the invitation from then-Dean of Architecture Harvey Perloff to come to UCLA and start the Urban Planning program.
In that instance, many of those in attendance felt like they were actually the lucky ones. Lucy Blackmar, assistant vice provost for undergraduate education initiatives at UCLA, recalled a phone conversation with Friedmann back when UCLA Urban Planning was in its infancy and Friedmann gave her the green light to pursue further education.
“I credit John Friedmann with my intellectual awakening,” Blackmar said. “Really, John was an educator, he was a thought leader, he was a global citizen, a man for all seasons and he had an insatiable intellectual appetite.”
Several other former students shared their memories of Friedmann during the memorial, including Goetz Wolff and Stephen Commins, both of whom later became Luskin urban planning lecturers. UCLA Luskin professors Ananya Roy and Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris also spoke about Friedmann, saying he had provided inspiration to them long before they actually had a chance to meet him in person.
Cellist Anne Suda played throughout a reception that preceded the sharing of memories, an homage to Friedmann’s own appreciation of the instrument.
To honor the legacy of John Friedmann’s contributions to the field of planning we have established the John Friedmann Memorial Fellowship Fund. Recipients of the fellowship at UCLA Luskin will carry Friedmann’s legacy as leaders and change agents in our world today. If you would like to make a gift, please go here.
By Stan Paul
John Friedmann, internationally renowned pioneer in urban theory and planning and a central figure in the founding of what is today the Department of Urban Planning at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, died Sunday in Vancouver, B.C., June 11, 2017, following a short illness. He was 91.
Friedmann, who was born in Vienna, Austria, in 1926, came to UCLA in 1969 at the invitation of Harvey S. Perloff, who had recently been appointed founding dean of the School of Architecture and Urban Planning. Perloff, an economist by trade and himself a pioneer and legendary figure in the field of planning, was Friedmann’s dissertation adviser at the University of Chicago. Perloff asked Friedmann to head a new program in urban planning at UCLA.
“Together they brought in a number of ‘big thinkers’ to be the core faculty of the emerging urban planning department, including Ed Soja, Dolores Hayden and Peter Marris,” said Michael Storper, a longtime friend and faculty member in urban planning. Storper, distinguished professor of regional and international development at UCLA Luskin with appointments at the Institute of Political Studies (Sciences Po) in Paris and the London School of Economics, added that Friedmann and Perloff were among those who published and edited the early fundamental textbooks in the emerging field of regional planning.
“This is a momentous loss,” Storper said. “He brought a real global outlook and sensibility to UCLA.”
Other friends and faculty at UCLA Luskin expressed similar thoughts about Friedmann.
“I consider John Friedmann as the father of our urban planning department — a huge figure whose vision has guided our department’s structure, overall mission and social justice goals,” said Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris, associate dean of the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs and professor of urban planning. “Aside from being a brilliant scholar, John was an amazing human being.
“I know that I am not the only one who has benefited tremendously from his kindness, mentorship and generosity of spirit,” she said. “John lives in our thoughts and minds. John is UCLA Urban Planning.”
Martin Wachs, distinguished professor of urban planning at UCLA Luskin, agreed.
“While many people contributed to the evolution of urban planning at UCLA, John Friedmann is universally recognized as THE father of the department,” Wachs said. “He was a person of unbounded energy and unlimited curiosity.”
Friedmann, who earned his Ph.D. in 1955 in an interdisciplinary program of research and education in planning at the University of Chicago, served as department chair of the urban planning program for a total of 14 years during his tenure at UCLA. He retired from UCLA in 1996 and lived in Vancouver for many years.
His decades-long career included serving as a member of the U.S. occupation forces at the end of World War II, and his wide-ranging interests took him around the world. After his first 14 years in Vienna, he listed Germany, Brazil, South Korea, Venezuela, Chile, Japan, the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada as stopping points along his journey as a scholar. During his long and life of learning and teaching, he helped establish and maintain an intellectual lineage and link to generations of world-class scholars in the field.
Vinit Mukhija, the current chair of the Department of Urban Planning, said his own dissertation adviser, Bish Sanyal, now at MIT, completed his dissertation under Friedmann’s guidance.
“I’ve felt a strong bond with UCLA Urban Planning because of this connection,” Mukhija said. “John’s ideas on social justice and planning have influenced me deeply and will continue to play a very important role in the training and education of planners at UCLA and around the globe.”
Friedmann also was the first distinguished lecturer of the Institute of Inequality and Democracy at UCLA Luskin. In May of 2016, Friedmann delivered a lecture titled, “The Ruse of Reason: Poverty and Personal Freedoms in the People’s Republic of China 1950-2015.”
In his biographical chapter in the recently published book, “Encounters in Planning Thought: 16 Autobiographical Essays from Thinkers in Spatial Planning” (Routledge, 2017), Friedmann writes, “I confess a weakness for Chinese philosophy.” The author of “China’s Urban Transition” (University of Minnesota Press, 2005) explained: “I believe this metaphysics has a great deal of explanatory power … I believe it to be useful also in the Western world where we are more accustomed to think in terms of either/or rather than both/and. It is particularly applicable in planning conflicts.”
At the May 2016 talk, Ananya Roy, director of the Institute on Inequality and Demoracy and professor of urban planning and social welfare at Luskin, introduced the prolific author as a “legend in urban planning.”
“For those of us who were trained at other urban planning programs, we were raised on the writings of John Friedmann,” Roy said. “His scholarship, for example, the analysis of world formation, remains foundational to the ways in which we think about cities and metropolitan regions around the world.”
Before the talk, Friedmann sat for a video interview and was asked about the evolution of urban planning at UCLA.
“The vision that I had was that planning was not just a profession,” he said. “We had to begin to theorize about planning, to start thinking, what is planning? What should we expect from this social science-based profession that isn’t simply urban design or land use planning, but goes far beyond that.”
When asked about the connection between planning theory and social justice, Friedmann said, “It’s all value-based, so we have to think very carefully about what sort of values we want to further in the world around us and the world in which we interact. The oldest one is social justice and the whole question of equality and inequality and how to have a more egalitarian society that is inclusive of all different modes of living.”
During his decades-long career, which includes Honorary Professor at the School of Community and Regional Planning at the University of British Columbia, Friedmann authored more than a dozen books, co-edited nearly a dozen more and wrote almost 200 other scholarly works, including articles and book chapters.
As one of the most highly cited researchers in the planning field — his citations number more than 50,000 — he is best known for his work on regional development planning, world city hypothesis, empowerment in planning and planning theory. His most recent book, “Insurgencies: Essays in Planning Theory” (Routledge, 2011), is a collection of his most influential writing over nearly four decades and is summarized as “Covering transactive planning, radical planning, the concept of “the good city,” civil society, rethinking poverty, and the diversity of planning cultures.”
Awards for his scholarship include the prestigious Distinguished Planning Educator Award from the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning (ACSP) and the same organization established the John Friedmann Book award in his honor in 2013. In 2006 he received the first UN-HABITAT Lecture Award organized through the Global Research Network on Human Settlements, and, is Honorary Foreign Advisor of the Chinese Academy of Urban Planning and Design. In 2008 he was the Harvey S. Perloff Visiting Professor in the UCLA Department of Urban Planning.
He also received honorary doctorates from the Catholic University of Chile, the University of Dortmund in Germany and York University, Ontario.
His personal interests, which included painting, music and poetry, “never flagged, as he saw these as essential to cultivating a sensibility of how things work together to create a whole out of the sum of parts, among which were statistics, economics, politics and history,” Storper said of his colleague.
Friedmann is survived by his wife of many years, Leonie Sandercock, who is a professor at the School of Community and Regional Planning at the University of British Columbia; his daughter, Manuela Friedmann; and his brother, Martin Friedmann and family.
Full Statements and Tributes from his Colleagues and Friends
Friedmann’s influence and legacy also lives on through generations of scholars and students at UCLA a number of whom commented on his life, legacy and impact, not only on urban planning but on their person and professional lives.
Martin Wachs, distinguished professor emeritus of urban planning
“While many people contributed to the evolution of Urban Planning at UCLA John Friedmann is universally recognized as THE father of the department. Brought to UCLA by Dean Harvey Perloff in 1969, John served as Department Chair during the department’s most formative years and shaped it intellectually in many ways. He was a person of unbounded energy and unlimited curiosity.
“In the most important telephone call of my career, John invited me to consider moving to UCLA and when I did he was my mentor during my early years here. I was a civil engineer interested in transportation and he was a planning theorist interested in regions. He created opportunities for me to broaden my perspective while staying focused on my interests. Busy teaching, writing, and traveling, he always had time for leisurely but substantive conversations about planning and about pedagogy. Our department was his extended family and those who new and worked with him all feel that we have lost a close relative.”
Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris, professor of urban planning, associate dean of the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, and associate provost, Academic Planning, UCLA
“I consider John Friedmann as the father of our Urban Planning department, a huge figure whose vision has guided our department’s structure, overall mission, and social justice goals. [It’s been] twenty-one years after John “retired” from UCLA at the age of 70, and we are still holding our quarterly departmental Assemblies, our curriculum and admissions committees where faculty, staff, and students meet to decide all major departmental decisions — all legacies of John’s participatory planning process.
“John has not only shaped urban planning here at UCLA but has in many ways transformed and elevated the field nationally and internationally. His concepts, hypotheses and writings about the ‘global city,’ ‘planning in the public domain’ and ‘radical planning’ propelled the rather obscure field of urban planning forward and have been tremendously influential in the social sciences.
“But aside from being a brilliant scholar, John was an amazing human being. I know that I am not the only one who has benefited tremendously from his kindness, mentorship and generosity of spirit.
“John lives in our thoughts and minds. John is UCLA Urban Planning.”
Stephen Commins, lecturer in urban planning
“John was unique. He was my chair, exceptionally rigorous, fair and humorous all wrapped together. He pushed, prodded, provoked and challenged, and also supported me. John was the engine that built up the department when he was chair. He put in incredible hours as a chair, as an instructor, as a chair and mentor, and yet also managed to find time to produce a range of publications. When students would quote something from his earlier work, he might say that was his Marxist, or Buddhist, or Anarchist phase … that jest was really about John being heterodox, not willing to accept simplistic ‘left/right’ or ‘top/bottom’ dichotomies in planning theory or in how we were to explore the world. I treasured that.
“When I was Director for Policy and Planning at World Vision International (1990-96) after finishing my Ph.D., our Latin America VP was a Brazilian who was immersed in liberation theology (before John Paul II killed so much of it). Manfred wanted to meet John, as he was thrilled by John’s book on Empowerment. We arranged a meeting at the Faculty Center, which started off a bit stiff/formal until John started chatting in Portuguese (I couldn’t follow, of course), and that opening up with Manfred’s home language burst open the conversation, which then ranged across languages and ideas and themes for the next 90 minutes. Similarly, when I was managing programs dealing with the civil war in Bosnia, John and I had lunch — we had never discussed the emerging complexities of civil wars in Central America, let alone in the Balkans, but his insights into how political entrepreneurs used ‘culture’ for power were ones that I still use.”
Michael Storper, distinguished professor of regional and international development, UCLA Department of Urban Planning
Let me make sure that you understand the lineage of John Friedmann and his importance to the field of regional planning. The forerunner of our school, the Graduate School of Architecture and Urban Planning, was created under the auspices of its first dean, Harvey Perloff. Perloff was an economist who had worked under the famous “brain trust” of President Franklin Roosevelt, in the depths of the Great Depression. Roosevelt brought in a number of people from the University of Chicago, among whom were Perloff and Rexford Tugwell. Perloff was instrumental in creating the country’s most important policy in the area of regional development, the regional planning authorities such as the Tennessee Valley Authority. Friedmann was an acolyte of Perloff, so that Perloff brought John to UCLA shortly after he was invited to be founding dean of the GSAUP. Together, they brought in a number of “big thinkers” to be the core faculty of the emerging urban planning department, including Ed Soja, Dolores Hayden and Peter Marris.
Friedmann has to be understood in that context. He was part of the great mid-century bulge of Europeans and European-style thinkers who came into American universities in the wake of depression and war in Europe. With his Austrian roots, John combined a European style intellectualism and broad culture, with American pragmatism. Like all of those of his generation of Austrians, he was traumatized by what had happened in Europe and saw policy as a way to make the world better in order to avoid such outcomes. Chicago was a crucible of this mixing of pragmatism and European big theory and humanist culture. John was trained in regional economics, but was deeply cultured in classical music, poetry and continental philosophy.
Perloff and Friedmann, along with Bill Alonso of Harvard, published the early fundamental texts and edited books in the emerging field of regional planning. John was close to Walter Isard, who established the Regional Science Association and its associated journals (still important to the field), as well as having contacts with all the European big names who were working to rebuild Europe through its regions, as the U.S. was doing so in order to get out of the depression and then to spread the wealth after the war.
It was also the period of 20th century “economic development” theory and practice, meaning the rise of a field of academia and practice devoted to combating under-development, in Africa, the Middle East and Latin America. Friedmann worked with Nobel Prize winners such as Gunnar Myrdal, and the renowned economist Albert Hirschmann. Friedmann spent many years in South America working on growth pole policies. So he brought a real global outlook and sensibility to UCLA.
The culture of our department was like a global intellectual salon at the time, with big ideas and world class intellectual speakers coming through for the Thursday Evening Lectures that John was instrumental in designing into the department’s life.
Later, as he moved away from nuts-and-bolts regional planning, John’s background and culture in continental European philosophy infused his work. With a line of inspiration that went from Aristotle through Kant to Habermas and Bergson, he was interested in experience, in the life-space, which he contrasted to economic space, how planning interacted with notions of a good and creative and fulfilling way to live. His later work explored power, identity, domination, and experience, with these philosophical traditions brought to bear on these questions. He was always reluctant to endorse typically American technocratic approaches to urban problems, eschewing the narrowness of the American academy, all the while hewing to his pragmatist side. His interest in painting, music, and poetry never flagged, as he saw these as essential to cultivating a sensibility of how things work together to create a whole out of the sum of parts, among which were statistics, economics, politics, and history.
On John Friedmann and the Implications of Regional Planning
By Susanna Hecht, professor of urban planning
In his later years John Friedmann was largely concerned with social movements as political processes as underpinnings to planning. This focus overlooks his earlier emphases in planning in understanding large scale river basin planning — the TVA, “from scratch” city construction, such as Ciudad Guyana in Venezuela, and his role in Latin American development politics, all of which were at earlier phases in his career but which informed his later ideas about transactive planning, and his general discomfort with bureaucratic planning as processes. Like most planners, he struggled with the idea and theory of planning, in many ways deriving his later ideas from Habermas, but also I would argue, to some degree from the failures of the transfer of planning models that actually seemed quite successful and, indeed, were practically text book cases of large scale river basin and territorial planning like the TVA — the Tennessee Valley Authority.
It is important to situate his early career in the intellectual ambience of the University of Chicago which had an outsized role in the intellectual underpinnings of the New Deal and post dust bowl recovery of the regions of Appalachia affected by the TVA. As a protégé of Harvey Perloff, he was exposed to the extraordinary influence that Chicago was to have on urban theory, especially through the idea of urban ecology ( not in the sense we use this term now as a socio-biotic domain) but rather as analogue to biotic systems with urban dynamics of succession ecological complexity and growth echoing as metaphor and reality the theories emerging from Chicago’s powerful biology department which was foundational in the development of ecological and succession theory.
Chicago biologists were deployed to help in landscape recovery of the degraded dust bowl lands (what we now call recuperation ecology), and for large scale land use planning in the Tennessee River basin. (The TVA embraces Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, parts of Georgia, North Carolina, and Virginia) This ecological interest was complemented by the intense concern of new dealers like Tugwell and Henry Wallace to improve rural and urban conditions in the most desperately impoverished areas of the south through flood control, electricity generation, rural electrification agrarian change, regional industrialization and urbanization in the context of comprehensive land use regional planning which included natural resource management and social investments in health, education and infrastructure.
It was the largest such exercise in the U.S., it served as a model for basin development throughout the U.S., especially in post dust bowl Midwest and developing Western states, and it became paradigmatic for developing countries as well. Founded in natural resource management, structural transformation and urbanization and industrialization, the TVA experience was also seen as a template for tropical development. As a technocratic exercise it was often lambasted as a socialist project (or Soviet-style planning) and from the left as an anti-democratic outcome of high handed experts. It did work, however, in a textbook manner, in transforming hard-scrabble, impoverished agriculture into modern forms, stimulating rural to urban migration and enhancing industrial development and other forms of energy-based development, and raising income health and education levels from truly those of third world countries to levels more in line with other areas in the U.S. While this model of comprehensive planning seemed to follow the recipe laid out by development economists and New Deal planners, and the kind of idea of linear progress, John Friedmann’s experience in Latin American in many ways changed that and his views of planning.
The Early 1960s witnessed the idea of moving the ballast of national economies into their interiors in Latin America. Rather than remaining in colonial capitals perched on coastlines, the idea was to situate important administrative and industrial cities in the interior of their countries. Building Brasilia, and enhancing Manaus and Belo Horizonte were archetypical in their ways, as was the development of Ciudad Guyana in Venezuela. All these cities developed fuller expression under authoritarian regimes, and in addition to urban development, embarked on massive infrastructure (dams for electricity) and industrial investments. Ciudad Guyana was developed on a famous waterfall to capture the energy to enhance industrial steel and manganese development. It became an important migration zone, but what then happened is rather than following the TVA model into a glorious future, it descended into what John Friedmann would call, the Citadel and the Ghetto: the world’s city style of massive poverty and informality, coupled with an international style modern urbanism with a high-wage managerial but also oligarchic class structure. In Ciudad Guyana this took the form of 1950 style suburban development coupled to the favela housing and livelihoods. These lives contrasted mightily with the planners imaginary and this clash of outcomes and its inequalities were movingly described by his friend and co researcher anthropologist, Lisa Peattie.
This experience would also thrust him into the Core and Periphery forms of planning and urbanism associated with the theories of underdevelopment and dependency that were so prominent in the intellectual architecture of the 1960s and 1970s. What was clear was that planning modalities in repressive environments and high levels of oligarchy and inequality were merely reproducing themselves within a new urban framing driven by “center” patterns of accumulation at the national, and international levels. After all US Steel was the main industrial beneficiary, and those suburban houses, fancy apartment towers were for its local and international managers, not for the more blue collar staff. In this sense the transformation of the region which was at the rhetorical level infused with ideas and ideologies of progress, had far more uneven outcomes and was not like the regional process which, for all its faults had been the development outcome of the TVA.
This failure of planning and planning theory pushed Friedmann into a much more complex set of analyses, where in fact he viewed the “expert systems” as lacking broader knowledge of societies and knowledge of and about local populations’ needs and desires even as they would be affected by plans and planners. His transactive planning and social learning models emphasized an approach the leaned on knowledge sharing as a more collective process and later on, insurgent and political action as increasingly key to transformation, especially as planning became more professionalized, bureaucratic and in many ways, complicit in structuring inequalities. While it has to be said, his framings were rather derivative from other stronger intellectual trends, his stylish prose, clarity of thought, and sociological training brought a more European sensibility to planning which while slowly changing, had been a kind of “tyranny of experts” — a legacy of new deal planners. As those planners moved from the rural to address more urban questions, and saw urban blight in many ways as part of the natural history of cities, he certainly felt that all the knowledge of places did not inhere in local planning departments. He was always attentive to the big picture of what shaped places, and to his credit, always saw rural and resources as a central part of understanding planning dynamics, and especially the dynamics of urbanization and especially in the third world.
As the profession moved away from the “rurality,” resource and urban connectivities, it ceded this arena to natural resource managers, and only very recently have these connections come back into planning focus, although very belatedly. Friedmann in this way was prescient but also very broadly experienced in national and international regional planning that deeply included rural livelihoods and transformations, and that in many ways these urban areas could not be understood without resource hinterlands. It is this world view that explains why I am in Urban Planning.
At another level, he loved Latin American literature and especially its poets and musicians. He liked to translate Pablo Neruda, the great Chilean poet, as well as the Spanish poet Frederico Lorca, and was an avid reader of Borges (who actually has plenty to say about planning), and Gabriel Garcia Marquez. He kept interesting diaries, for example about his early travels to Manaus, and the Amazon in the chaotic interregnum of weak democracies before the iron handed authoritarians came to power. His Latin American experience was so colored by the authoritarian period, and so inspired by its artistic resistance that his later insistence on civil participation and insurgencies really come as no surprise.
It seems like a distant time, now, almost impossible to imagine given current intellectual cultures, but he would have gatherings where young faculty would meet with him, and read out favorite poems. I usually read Ann Sexton — a bohemian feminist poet. But he was a Neruda and Lorca guy, reading the poets who wrote under the authoritarian (Spanish and Chilean) moons.
A project by a team from the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs about age-friendly outdoor environments has picked up another honor — this time an Achievement Award presented by the American Planning Association (APA).
The winner is among 12 Achievement Award recipients chosen by a jury of planners as examples of good planning work. The recipients are recognized collectively at an awards luncheon held during APA’s National Planning Conference, which is set for May 6-9, 2017, in New York City.
The UCLA Luskin project was designated as a silver winner in the category: National Planning Achievement Award for a Best Practice. It had qualified for consideration at the national level by previously being honored in 2016 by the APA Los Angeles Section, which recognizes the “best of planning” from cities, agencies and nonprofits to consulting firms and individuals.
“Placemaking for an Aging Population,” funded by the Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundation and the Archstone Foundation, was led by principal investigator and Urban Planning professor Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris. It provides information about the park needs and preferences of older, low-income adults living in inner-city neighborhoods.
Loukaitou-Sideris, who is also associate provost for academic planning at UCLA, worked on the study with Social Welfare professor Lené Levy-Storms and Madeline Brozen, associate director for external relations for the UCLA Lewis Center and the Institute of Transportation Studies, and program manager of the Complete Streets Initiative. Brozen is also an alumna of the Luskin Urban Planning program.
“Older adults represent a fast growing segment of the population, and U.S. cities are now beginning to realize the imperative of creating age-friendly environments,” Loukaitou-Sideris said in a previous story about the project. She said that while parks can offer many benefits to seniors, “if planners wish to see more seniors visiting parks, they should carefully consider their needs and tastes, and incorporate their voices in park design and programming. Our study seeks to do just that.”
Luskin graduate student researchers — and now alumni — for the project were Lynn Chen SW Ph.D. ’13 and Master of Urban and Regional Planning (MURP) graduates Liz Devietti, Hannah Gustafson and Lucia Phan. Lia Marshall, a doctoral student in Social Welfare, also was on the research team.
More information about the UCLA Luskin project and a list of all 2017 APA award winners may be found on the APA website.
By Stan Paul
A century ago, the great-grandmother of UCLA Luskin’s Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris faced raising and educating her children alone. She and her family had been expelled from Russia following the 1917 revolution, losing their property, and Loukaitou-Sideris told those gathered at an open forum to mark “A Day Without a Woman” that her great-grandfather died on the journey to Greece.
Her great-grandmother persevered, raising one of the first women in the labor force in Greece, Loukaitou-Sideris’ grandmother, who soon was “climbing the ladder” on her way to becoming a manager in the Greek railway system.
Loukaitou-Sideris credits her family, especially her father, with supporting her decision as a young woman to find her own path in the United States, where her academic and professional aspirations led to her becoming a professor of urban planning at UCLA and also the university’s associate provost for academic planning.
“I was a lucky one,” said Loukaitou-Sideris at the March 9, 2017, dialogue for students, faculty and staff at the Luskin School in observance of International Women’s Day.
Other participants shared their own perspectives, recognizing women who had influenced their lives. Attendees also talked about ongoing equality issues and how to break down gender barriers that continue to exist. With gratitude, they recognized the strength, struggle, and perseverance of female role models in advancing women’s rights in society and the workplace.
“I’m here to show solidarity with my fellow women and celebrate the role we play in society,” said Leilah Moeinsadeh, a first-year Master of Urban and Regional Planning (MURP) student.
Michael Lens, assistant professor of urban planning, added, “I think of … things that women have to deal with that I don’t have to deal with, things my position and status as a man have exempted me from. So, it’s important to reflect on how to treat people, particularly women, with the respect they deserve.”
Lens said much of his life and career have been shaped disproportionately by women in positive ways, explaining that he grew up with his mother in a single-parent household. Mentors, advisers and supervisors in and out of academia — many of them women – “have shaped my career in ways I never expected,” he said.
Joan Ling, lecturer in urban planning, pointed out that challenges remain. “Today reminds me of all the work ahead of us,” she said. “It’s not enough, because it’s not about women being equal to men. It’s about changing the paradigm about how we look at power and influence.”
Ling, a graduate of the urban planning master’s program, added, “And, [it’s about] using different metrics to measure our ability to have control over our lives and live a just life.”
Ling’s grandmother — raised in China during a time when young girls’ feet were bound to stunt growth — was “crippled because her feet were bound into 4-inch stumps when she was a child.” Ling’s mother didn’t go to school because at that time it was not considered important for a girl to be educated. “I want those things to change,” Ling said. “But beyond that — equality and education and opportunities — it’s really redefining how we run the world.”
The discussion also covered political issues such as gender-neutral restroom legislation across the nation and the day-to-day challenges of being a mother and keeping up with the requirements of a Ph.D. program. Other topics included the logic of planning buildings to include lactation rooms in the workplace, as well as discussion of housing, jobs, women of color, transgender women and the role of students in dismantling barriers.
“An international day of recognition is a great way to ignite conversation, but something as important as gender equality should not be designated to a discussion once a year, it must be ongoing,” said Alexis Oberlander, urban planning graduate adviser, who helped organize the event and served as moderator. “I was excited by the ideas the students presented, and I hope those ideas invigorate more dialogue and action.”
By Les Dunseith
The number of Americans age 85 and older now constitutes the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population.
The second-fastest growing age group? Those age 100 and older.
The impact on society of increased longevity thanks to advances in medicine and healthier lifestyles was a centerpiece of a presentation by Jo Ann Jenkins, CEO of AARP, as part of the Meyer and Renee Luskin Lecture Series held Feb. 7, 2017.
Jenkins, whose bestselling book “Disrupt Aging” also served as the title for her lecture, talked about the necessity to rethink how we view the aging process in the years ahead.
“It’s not just about adding years to the end of life. It’s about changing the way we live throughout our lives,” Jenkins told a crowd of more than 200 people at Skirball Cultural Center. “Our ability to live longer, healthier and more productive lives is one of mankind’s greatest accomplishments. And yet we don’t see it that way. We often view it as a problem rather than an accomplishment.”
She urged the audience to think about a youngster they know today, perhaps a child or grandchild around 10 years old. Current research thinking predicts that child will have about a 50/50 chance of living to be 100.
She also noted that gerontology experts speculate that the first person who will live to be age 150 has already been born. “In this audience,” she joked, and the room erupted in laughter.
Her point, of course, is that increased longevity for a significant portion of the population not only impacts healthcare and public policy and the infrastructure of communities, but also the way people deal with the aging process and its impacts on their loved ones and themselves.
“The way people are aging is changing, but our attitudes and our stereotypes have not changed,” Jenkins said in an interview prior to the lecture. “I would like for us to be this ageless society. So that regardless of your age, you are judged on the quality of your mind and what you bring to the workplace, or what you bring into the environment. And that it’s not about being a particular age.”
Coping with the societal impact of the demographic reality is a challenge that “we find ourselves woefully unprepared” to deal with, said UCLA Luskin urban planning professor Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris, who is also UCLA’s associate provost for academic planning. “Most seniors live in cities, but the cities are not really designed, planned or developed for them.”
New policies and approaches are needed to successfully adjust to an aging population. “Older adults are equal citizens who have a right to expect the same rights and benefits and amenities from cities as other groups,” Loukaitou-Sideris said. “This is not yet happening. The onus is on the people who are the city builders, the policymakers, the planners, the politicians.”
Because those are the types of people who work and study at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, hosting a visit by Jenkins was a natural fit. She is the CEO of an influential national organization that has about 38 million members over age 50.
The Luskin Lecture by Jenkins was also an example of a growing relationship between the university and AARP that was fostered by Fernando Torres-Gil, professor of social welfare and public policy, over the past few years while he served on the organization’s board of directors.
“UCLA is the premier university when it comes to geriatrics and the biomedical side of gerontology,” Torres-Gil said in advance of the lecture. “UCLA, as a university, has tremendous research strength in issues of aging.”
AARP is “beginning to understand what we can do for them,” he said about UCLA and its research, educational and planning capabilities. “In a nation becoming old and moving to majority-minority status, AARP needs to take a leadership role in responding to multicultural populations and the nexus with aging.”
People at UCLA in fields of study such as medicine, gerontology, public policy and urban planning “have an enormous opportunity to rethink the course of life,” Jenkins said. “If we are going to live to be 100, how might that change the way we educate — not only the youth, but all of us — throughout the lifespan?”
California and Los Angeles, in particular, present a perfect opportunity for organizations such as AARP to achieve a better understanding of the needs of older Americans from diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds. One aspect of that effort is a $300,000 grant from AARP to help fund the research of faculty members such as Loukaitou-Sideris, whose studies of the public environment in and around cities have previously noted shortcomings related to the needs of older residents, particularly those in minority populations.
In a question and answer session that followed the lecture and was moderated by Torres-Gil, he asked for Jenkins’ perspective on diversity given the fact that so many of those entering old age are from ethnic minority populations.
“We at AARP have a huge role to play in showing how nonprofit organizations ought to be community partners at the local level,” Jenkins responded. “Our goal at AARP is to be in your life every day, concerned about the issues that are important to you, not just necessarily about what’s important to AARP. And that absolutely includes diverse communities all across this country.”
Not only are people living longer, but their expectations for quality of life are changing as well. This notion of rethinking what it means to grow old is one that Jenkins has championed since she became the leader of AARP in 2014, and it is the core message of “Disrupt Aging.”
“We ought to accept our age and feel good about where we are in life,” Jenkins said. “Among our members, many of them are not retiring. They might be leaving a particular job, but it’s to do something different.”
Still, she noted, American society is obsessed with age. When people are asked what they are most likely to lie about, age is the top answer. “But what if we could eliminate our preoccupation with a number? For example, what if we decided that middle age started at 65? What would that do to your own preconceptions?” Jenkins asked.
“It’s not our own aging that we need to fight against,” Jenkins said during the lecture. “It’s the ageist attitudes and perceptions that permeate society and play such a huge role in our culture.”
She acknowledged that aging does create challenges that older Americans wrestle with every day. “As we get older, many of us find things that we have always taken for granted more difficult to achieve,” she said. “Our wants and our needs change, but our environment does not always adapt to address those changes.”
In her view, the capacity to deal successfully with that reality is an issue that impacts individuals, governments and businesses in equal measure. “We blame ourselves. Instead of changing our environment to fit our needs, we bemoan getting older,” she said.
Efforts by AARP and by researchers such as Loukaitou-Sideris seek ways to make communities more livable for an aging population. Jenkins cited a research example that focuses on the fact that many older people have trouble getting in and out of a car.
“We attribute it to the weakening of the leg muscles and the loss of sense of balance rather than considering the inadequacies of a car seat that does not swivel and allow us to emerge straight forward rather than trying to slide out of the car sideways,” Jenkins said. “Car seats were not made with a 75-year-old in mind.”
The idea of refocusing our thinking to better accommodate an aging population also applies to communities and housing. Today, more people are living into their 80s and 90s and want to stay in their homes as long as possible.
“Basic access should be built into the homes, just like wiring and plumbing,” Jenkins said. “Living in a community with services nearby and having a home that accommodates our needs are tremendous assets for those of us who want to age in place.”