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Designing cities for everyone

The Conversation has released a new series of articles, ‘Cities for Everyone’, exploring how members of different communities experience and shape our cities, and how we can create better public spaces for everyone to enjoy.

Pushing casual sport to the margins threatens cities’ social cohesion

Amanda Wise and colleagues write (30.4.18) about how casual sport facilities can help communities to thrive – but for many of Australia’s most marginal communities, it’s becoming harder to find a place to play.

‘Park soccer, social cricket and street basketball bring the public spaces of our cities to life. For many of the most marginalised communities, access to public space for sport is crucial for developing and maintaining a sense of belonging. But as populations grow and competition for playing fields, courts and parks becomes fiercer, many communities are losing access to their sporting spaces.’

To create safer cities for everyone, we need to avoid security that threatens

Kurt Iveson writes (1.5.18) that security in cities can make some people feel safe while excluding others – new ways of planning and policing public space are needed to ensure cities are safe and accessible for all.

‘The central role of public spaces in the social, cultural, political and economic life of cities makes it crucial that they’re accessible to everyone. One of the most important qualities of accessible public spaces is safety. If people do not feel safe in a public space, they are less likely to use it, let alone linger in it.’

Big city gaybourhoods: where they come from and why they still matter

Scott McKinnon writes (3.5.18) that Sydney’s LGBTQI heartland has moved and changed over time, but the importance of urban space to queer communities remains a constant.

‘In London, there is Soho; in New York, Chelsea and Greenwich Village; and in San Francisco, there is the Castro. In Sydney, there is Darlinghurst and, more specifically, Oxford Street. These are neighbourhoods of large cities that have, since at least the 1950s and often earlier, developed a reputation as queer spaces.’

Melbourne’s ‘doughnut city’ housed its homeless

Claire Collie and Brendan Gleeson write (4.5.18) that, when Melbourne’s city centre was revitalised in the 1990s, homeless people were pushed out. The authors argue that, with homelessness rising today, it’s important to recognise the links between urban development and displacement.

‘Revitalisation projects aimed at increasing residential populations in inner urban areas since the 1980s have resulted in almost wholesale expulsion of the marginally housed. The now mythic “doughnut city” that Melbournians became so embarrassed about, and so proud to repopulate, was in fact a city that housed its homeless.’

We can’t just leave it to the NDIS to create cities that work to include people with disability

Ilan Wiesel and colleagues write (7.5.18) that the NDIS is set to reshape Australian cities; but to achieve meaningful participation of people with disabilities, urban communities and services will also need to take action.

‘A major goal of the NDIS is to improve participation in mainstream services by people with disability. The success of the scheme will depend on how well it achieves this. But the responsibility for change should be shared far more broadly – mainstream services must actively transform themselves to become more inclusive.’

Indigenous communities are reworking urban planning, but planners need to accept their history

Libby Porter and colleagues write (9.5.18) that, while planning policies and practices have contributed to marginalising Indigenous people, planners can now work with them to ensure they have their rightful say in shaping Australian communities.

‘Nearly 80% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia live in urban areas but cities often exclude and marginalise them. Urban planning and policy have been central to this, and the harms can be seen in key moments and processes that have shaped Australia’s urban environments.’

‘Sanitised’ nightlife precincts become places where some are not welcome

Alistair Sisson writes (10.5.18) that most regulatory interventions in nightlife precincts are about imposing particular ideas of social and moral order not only within these spaces but also in the city more broadly.

‘Nightlife precincts in Australian cities have come under intense scrutiny in recent years following a spate of “one punch” assaults and other incidents. Places like Sydney’s Kings Cross, Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley and Perth’s Northbridge have been framed as unsafe and unruly “problem spaces” – the kind of places that parents warn their teenage children to avoid.’

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