We regret to inform you that ARLIS/NA will not be holding its 48th Annual Conference in St. Louis, MO because of the serious health risks posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Thursday, April 23 • 10:30am - 11:50am
Preserve, Enhance, Reimagine: Examining Architecture and Urban Planning Through a Social Justice Lens

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According to The New Geography’s recent report, if you ask an American about their country, they’ll probably be pretty pessimistic. At a time of rapidly changing demographic and cultural landscapes, and with frustration over inequalities, American national politics has not found a way to generate consensus. But if you asked the same American about their local communities, you often hear a different story. More people are getting involved in local issues, and, despite differences, communities are working together to solve problems. When America is viewed from the bottom up instead of from the top down, a picture emerges of conditional optimism.
This panel re-evaluates and re-imagines our roles as critical information professionals in this local, conditional optimism. In particular, as art and architecture librarians contributing to local communities, visual and information literacy instruction and programming, and social justice frameworks, this panel will thoughtfully reflect upon our roles as information professionals and proponents of social justice. With the recent updates to the ARLIS/NA Art, Architecture, and Design Information Competencies (2018- 2019),[1] and with recent events that speak to the ongoing challenges of American cities, we ask:

- How do we collaborate with communities to preserve and enhance important histories and narratives, while simultaneously dismantling the structures that perpetuate discrimination and injustices?
- How can we become increasingly aware of the structures that reinforce prejudices and unfair treatment of communities, which restrict our understanding of how a socially just world might exist?

Taking Saint Louis as our springboard in this investigation due to relatively recent media coverage (e.g., Ferguson protests, Igoe Pruitt urban renewal, Cori Bush election coverage, among other examples), we will examine the intersections of social justice, urbanism, city planning and urban renewal, environmental racism, and several community engagement initiatives. Following the call to “shed library neutrality rhetoric for social justice,” (Pagowsky, 2015), we will highlight initiatives within libraries, archives, and other organizations which are activating and organizing for social justice, creating change in and with communities, and preserving histories. While St. Louis serves as one example, there are many cities which fit the themes of this panel: urban plight and renewal; social justice and community/grassroots initiatives; and information professionals working with community members to highlight their voices through various initiatives within archives, visual resources, zines, workshops, programming, and more. Some of the local initiatives which will be considered include the public-private initiative, Chouteau Greenway, which looks to "[connect] people with [St. Louis’s] most treasured places, creating inspiring experiences and equitable opportunities for growth;” and The Justice Fleet, a mobile network of experiences that fosters healing through art, play, and dialogue housed inside box trucks, which ventures into various neighborhoods to engage community members in discussions about implicit and explicit bias, social justice, and empathy.

Learning Objectives:

- Identify grassroots and community initiatives in St. Louis that address issues of inequity in urban planning and architecture
- Describe how social justice, city planning, and urban renewal intersect
- Discuss how art and architecture information professionals can engage with communities to preserve histories and to support programs that dismantle structural injustice

This session is sponsored/jointly presented by the Architecture Section and the Urban and Regional Planning SIG.

avatar for Rachel Castro

Rachel Castro

Assistant Librarian, University of Arizona


Michael Allen

Senior Lecturer, Architecture, Landscape Architecture and Urban Design, Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts, Washington University in St. Louis

Susan Colangelo

President & Executive Director, Saint Louis Story Stitchers
avatar for Kai Alexis Smith

Kai Alexis Smith

School of Architecture and Planning Librarian, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
avatar for Stephanie Beene

Stephanie Beene

Assistant Professor, Fine Arts Librarian for Art, Architecture, and Planning, University of New Mexico

Thursday April 23, 2020 10:30am - 11:50am CDT
Chase Park Plaza: Lindell A/B 212 South Kingshighway Boulevard, St. Louis, MO 63108