Interboro just returned from Ann Arbor, where it presented “Improve Your Lot!” at a symposium about “The City After Abandonment.”


The symposium, which was organized by Margi Dewar and June Manning Thomas, brought together authors slated to contribute to a book of the same name. Interboro got great feedback on “Improve Your Lot!” from Margi, June, respondents Andrew Herscher, Laura Lawson, and many of the other distinguished scholars and contributors who were there. Interboro’s invoking of Hernando De Soto was roundly criticized, as was the paper’s omission of community (blotting has been frequently criticized for being a bit too individualistic). Another omission that was pointed out: Gayatri Spivak’s work on the “subaltern” (Interboro has some summer reading to do). Interboro also had the pleasure of responding to an interesting paper about “rightsizing” (forthcoming) by Bent Ryan, who invoked what he called “a subthread of formal ambition and social energy” that we can find in projects like Poplar Nemiah and Yorktown in Philadelphia, or Twin Parks in the Bronx, as well as Kevin Lynch’s incredibly prescient (but seemingly forgotten) vision of a “polycentered net.” Could a similar strong urban design vision emerge for shrinking cities that avoids the apolitical, form-obsessed impulse in architecture and the formal conservatism so synonymous in planning? Interboro is looking forward to seeing how this develops. Anyway, Interboro is in the process of improving “Improve Your Lot!” for what promises to be an important volume on “The City After Abandonment.”