Wednesday, March 23, 2011

"Sidewalks Are For People" talks aesthetics

Really, really nice to get this announcement from the Sidewalks Are For People crew (disclosure: some are friends/colleagues) for a "discussion on public urban space" involving the Nonsite Collective, a group of artists and nontraditional scholars.

Sidewalks Are For People is the group that campaigned, unsuccessfully, against the San Francisco ballot measure that has now banned sitting or lying on the sidewalk while not spending money. To their credit, they aren't going away, nor are they limiting their work to litigation against the ballot measure. Instead they're getting into the philosophical and aesthetic sides of reclaiming the commons.

This is such a refreshing change to me.

See, I'm one of these Gen-X kids who came up in lefty groups dominated by Boomers. The Boomers had done their philosophizing and aesthetical maundering and puzzling out of reasons for the good fight when I was learning Winnie-the-Pooh. When my generation was old enough to be worth recruiting, the leadership were grizzled veterans of the long retreat from the hopes of the 1970s. They took as read all that mushy "why we care" stuff. They wanted signatures on petitions, volunteers for direct services, bodies for demonstrations, votes for position statements. I got sick of being a good soldier without ever getting to talk about why. I left.

Maybe, at last, American lefties are back to talking about why. Here's hoping.

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