Aline Roldan, Capacity Development Expert, United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR)
Imagining a City Without Walls: Theory and Practice of Imagination in Community Development Work
What if…citizens only want more walls, cameras, surveillance, cars, tesla tunnels, parking lots, etc… as some sort of dystopian dysfunctional future city? What if people have no interest or hope for any better future for their own community? What can urban planners do to overcome these challenges when working with community development? In this lecture, we will discuss the case study of the Homeless Workers Movement (MTST) in Brazil and withdraw lessons on how community organizers or any planners directly engaged with communities could potentially facilitate processes that open up the collective imagination. In MTST, their insurgent planning practices produced shifts on how people perceived their territories, themselves, and their futures – moving from hopeless, to “the desire for a house with a car in the garage,” to a “desire for the city,” an embodied and active right to the city. We will discuss the practical role of planners, as mediators of social learning processes in three interconnected dimensions: making territories visible (to residents and to the government); making people visible to themselves (to see and be seen as an individual, part of a community, citizen); and finally, based on the previous two dimensions, making futures visible (to move from hopelessness to sensorial images of alternative futures).
Aline Roldan completed her master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning at UIUC in 2018. Before joining the program, she founded a project and worked for 5 years in favelas in 4 cities in Brazil with bottom-up community development practices. The project trained 287 fellows and indirectly benefited 10000 people. The methodology consisted of participatory action research processes centered on the residents’ dreams for the community’s future. Intrigued by a lot of questions from practice, she researched in her master’s thesis imagination as social learning in the context of the homeless workers movement in Sao Paulo, and received the 2018 Outstanding Capstone Award for a Thesis. Since 2018, Aline has worked as a consultant for different UN agencies on the design and facilitation of training for local and national governments in the Asia-Pacific region. She has received international awards on strategic foresight and completed training on future studies, public participation (IAP2), and diverse systems-based approaches.
If you are unable to attend in person, you can register for Zoom information here.
This series is presented thanks in part to the generous support of the Louis B. Wetmore Endowment Fund, which provides resources to bring planning practitioners to our department where they interact with students and faculty.