The topic of urban commons is booming. Since we published Urban Commons: Moving beyond State and Market four years ago, there has been a strong increase in projects and publications about urban commons. What is it about the current Zeitgeist that makes now the right time for this topic?
Dr. Mary Dellenbaugh-Losse is an urban researcher, consultant, and author with a concentration on integrated post-industrial urban development, specifically: culture and creative industries, real estate market dynamics, intermediate and adaptive reuse of vacant buildings, bottom-up urban development, and urban commons. She has also published widely about the political, symbolic, and normative aspects of architecture and urban planning.
Please see About for a full bio and "Upcoming Events" below for a full list of future appointments.
Hey all, I have been working hard all winter, which means I am going to have a number of results to share with you over the coming months. First stop: the first blog post for the Reactivating Vacant Buildings project, which discusses the projects that we visited in Germany, has been published. Many, many thanks to our generous hosts in Bremen, Chemnitz & Halle (Saale) for sharing their projects with us. You can read the post on the GMF’s website here: http://www.gmfus.org/blog/2018/12/05/reactivating-vacant-buildings-three-approaches-germany
What aspects does one need to consider when speaking about affordable housing and what role could commons-based housing provision play?
Here is the recording of last Tuesday’s talk at the CCCB (also available at https://media.ccc.de/v/dg-92). Many thanks to Jens Meisner for his knowledgeable input and the CCCB for having us!
Project updates: The urban commons cookbook, Reactivating vacant buildings, The model space project, CIVACT & Inventing Berlin
It has been a very busy summer full of great news on the project front. Here’s a quick update!
Commons and communities: Can urban commons projects lead to more innovative and inclusive urban societies?
Today’s post examines the role of urban commons in social and cultural innovation, participation in urban policy-making, and as a possibility for more inclusive urban societies.
Just a quick update about progress on the UCC!
So we’ve officially concluded the first round of the Berlin Urban Commons Series, which ran in 2016 and 2017. We touched on so many exciting topics – today, I wanted to take the chance to give an overview of the individual events and link to summaries of each of them.
Why smaller cities are gaining (and will continue to gain) ground in the competition for cultural innovation
Today’s post examines the effect of push and pull factors in the real estate market on creative industries and examines the potentials for cultural innovation in smaller and mid-sized cities.
Proposal approved for research about strategies to reactivate vacant buildings in the US and Europe!
I’m excited to announce that my colleague Jacqueline Taylor and I will be conducting a pilot study about strategies to reactivate vacant buildings in the US and Europe funded by a mini-grant from the German Marshall Fund of the United States!
It’s been a busy few weeks since I got back from vacation, but today I’m excited to share some impressions from the first interviews for the Urban Commons Cookbook.
Depletable vs. non-depletable resources: The case for limiting user group size in urban commons projects
I’m back from my holidays and full of ideas! Today’s post goes into group size and composition for depletable and finite urban resources like housing.
With the help of 56 backers, we were able to raise a total of 3,712€, which means that the Urban Commons Cookbook will be a reality! If you missed your chance to lock in a copy now, you can still get one in the fall. We’ll make it available through the project website (www.urbancommonscookbook.com), here, and through our partner websites. Stay tuned! And thanks to all of you who backed us – it really means a lot!
We did it! I am ecstatic!! There are still two days left to get your own copy of the book. We also have a limited number of the second print run of Urban Commons: Moving beyond State and Market available! https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/883826659/the-urban-commons-cookbook/
There’s just three more days to our Kickstarter campaign. We only need 350€ to make it to our goal. Help us make it a reality by pledging here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/883826659/the-urban-commons-cookbook
We had a big pledge jump overnight! We’re not there yet, but if we keep on going like this, we just might reach our goal by March 9th! Check it out the campaign, support us, and get our own copy of the book here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/883826659/the-urban-commons-cookbook
Hey all, as most of you know, we have a Kickstarter campaign currently running for our newest book, The Urban Commons Cookbook. Here’s an update to end week 2. The campaign is running until March 9th. Check it out here, support us, and get our own copy of the book: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/883826659/the-urban-commons-cookbook
Can tiny houses help solve the affordable housing crisis? – Video, slides, notes, and further reading
Here’s the video of my talk yesterday with additional notes, links, and comments! Enjoy!
Tonight: Facebook live broadcast of my talk “Can tiny houses help solve the affordable housing crisis?” at aVOID
I’ll be speaking tonight at 18:30 (CET) at the Bauhaus Campus here in Berlin about tiny houses and affordable housing. Read the summary and get a link to the live feed here.
Check out our rewards and support the project here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/883826659/the-urban-commons-cookbook
In today’s post, I examine the role of diverse real estate markets in promoting a wide variety of urban inhabitants.
One of the authors in our book, Tobias Bernet, was recently interviewed in the Planologie podcast, a German-language podcast from two urban and regional planning students at the TU Berlin. In this episode, they discuss self-organized housing as a form of commons. Follow this link to listen to the entire podcast: https://planologie-podcast.de/2017/06/08/pln001-commons-in-der-stadt/
I’m excited to announce that I am working on a new book, The Urban Commons Cookbook, which will gather urban commoners’ experiences and create a practical handbook which gathers real-world insights, usable tips, and tested methods for creating and maintaining commons which can inform actors from the civil society and politics alike. We’ll be launching a Kickstarter in mid-February – stay tuned! You can read the full exposé here.
The slow death of affordable housing: A primer on Berlin’s housing market in three acts. Act 3: The fate of renting and owning, today & tomorrow
Today’s post is the third and final chapter in my three-part series about the development of Berlin’s housing market from the city’s division to today. To get some background for today’s episode, housing in the reunified city, you should check out episode one and two, housing in the divided city and housing the reunified city!
The slow death of affordable housing: A primer on Berlin’s housing market in three acts. Act 2: Housing in the reunified city
This is the second chapter in my three-part series about the development of Berlin’s housing market from the city’s division to today. To get some background for today’s episode, housing in the reunified city, you should check out episode one, housing in the divided city.
The slow death of affordable housing: A primer on Berlin’s housing market in three acts. Act 1: Housing in the divided city
Today’s post is the first in a three-part series examining the development of the housing market in Berlin to round off 2017.
A short recap of my recent fabulous and inspiring trip to New England and Detroit (with lots of pictures)!
Two and a half years in the making – my first book in German!
Cultural innovation and preservation are both necessary for vital and authentic cities. In this post, I examine the interplay between cultural heritage and cultural innovation and present a few insights from my recent research on urban development through culture.
How can we get a more diverse group of people involved in shaping the future of the city? This post identifies the main challenges to diversity and suggests some possible solutions.
Today’s post examines the global rise of the right as a symptom of three and a half decades of neoliberal policies.
Today’s post examines concrete policy measures which could work against gentrification and the displacement of commons and creative projects.
Today’s post examines the rise of the far-right party Alternative für Deutschland as a continuing side effect of German reunification.
Which parts of commons theory can be applied to the management of public spaces and what should one consider when applying this theory to the real world? Today’s post explores these questions and goes into detail about my input at the Berlin Senate Department’s Zentrenwerkstatt last week.
I’m going to be giving several talks this fall about urban commons, so today I’m going to delve into what makes urban commons different from other forms of commons.
In this post, I unpack the concept of “heritage” in its ideological political use, and reflect Trump’s recent use of this term against the backdrop of the global political shifts of the last year.
So August is now over and most people are back from their summer vacations, which means that it’s time to turn our attention to the (very busy) conference season just around the corner. This year, I’ll be doing a whirlwind tour of four countries in four weeks, with topics from urban commons to EU urban policy.
So two weeks ago, I wrote this article about the conflicted stance towards ornamentation in architecture in Berlin. An illustrative example of this is the city palace reconstruction that is currently underway. Nothing says “conflicted history” more than a reconstructed palace, unless it’s a reconstructed palace with three facades of historical reconstruction and this on the massively visible side towards the central tourist area. Anyone, resident or visitor, that walks from Alexanderplatz towards Berlin’s highest building, the TV tower, will get a full view of this facade. I personally see a striking (and sort of scary) resemblance to the strict…
In this post, I unpack the function of memorials in social, political, and spatial negotiations of identity, history, and power.
I’ve begun work on an expanded and updated version of my dissertation, which means I’m going back through my work on symbolism, politics, and architecture. In doing so, I stumbled over some notes I made for an article about contemporary German architecture’s timid approach to symbolism and ornament, which I’ve decided to develop here. Have a look!
Does describing vacant buildings as “blight” doom them to demolition? In my newest post, I examine the consequences of framing and consensus in urban policy through the example of the term “blight.”
The results of URBACT’s most recent call, for good practices, has now been published. You can search the database of the 97 selected cities here. There are some really exciting projects in there! I’ll be back from my holidays next week with a new full-length post.
Ryan Jepson from the University of Vienna has reviewed our book. Read an excerpt and find a link to the full text here.
I’ve uploaded and English-language copy of an article from 2015 about belonging and identity, which I presented in Gdansk at the Smart Metropolia conference. Check out and excerpt here and follow the link at the bottom of the post to download the full article.
In this post, I review the highlights of the Bundeskongress für nationale Stadtentwicklungspolitik 2017, which took place on June 12th & 13th in Hamburg.
Back in January, I took part in the Urban Change Talk about Urban Commons. As part of that event, I also gave a very short video statement in which I talk about what makes urban commons different from other commons types, and what effects multilevel governance and market forces can have on them. Watch the whole video (about 3 minutes long) here.
In this post, I summarize and briefly explain the ins and outs of urban policy, using examples from Boulder’s growth boundary to prestige pricing.
Martin Schwegmann and I have tackled urban commons again in our newest article together as part of an event we both took part in in January for the program Actors of Urban Change. Check out the links in this post to download the article and the full publication.
What do Bremen and Bologna have in common? They both used administrative restructuring to address their citizens’ needs and desires and boost civil society’s involvement in urban development – with great results! In this post, I explore administrative restructuring’s potentials for growth in peripheral and rural areas.
Today’s post summarizes the main take-home messages from the European Cultural Foundation’s Citizens’ Dialogue ‘Peace through Culture’ on May 10th, 2017.
So the Berlin Urban Commons Series continues tomorrow with our newest event, entitled “Mapping, Big Data, Citizen’s Tech,” hosted by Dr. Martin Schwegmann. More details here.
My first full-length work since my dissertation will be coming out in German this summer. I was asked to write a book for laypersons about urban development through culture by the state central office for political education in Thuringia. We’re just in the final throes of editing now. Expected release date sometime late summer!
According to my newest article – yes! And the people who get to decide where to put those benches influence our daily life in cities’ public spaces. Check out and excerpt here and follow the link at the bottom of the post to download the full article.
Looking forward to taking part in the Hacking Urban Furniture conference on April 7th & 8th at the Center for Art & Urbanism. If you’re in Berlin, come by! I wrote an article about the normative power of street furniture for the project which I’ll link to as soon as it’s online.
I’m thrilled to announce that, after a long and detailed application process, I’ve been validated as a lead expert for the EU program URBACT, which deals with integrated urban development in Europe! I’ve been validated for the design and delivery of transnational exchange and learning activities, as well as thematic expertise in integrated urban renewal (i.e. Commons, Heritage, Branding) and arts and culture (i.e. Creative Industries). For more information, please check out my expert profile at http://urbact.eu/dellenbaugh.
Back in Germany after summer break in the US. Came home to find my sign in card for the 10th German Congress on National Urban Development Policy waiting for me in the mailbox. Despite my jet lag, I’m really excited to go to Hannover next week and take part in dialogues about urban development!
The documentation of the two conferences that I moderated workshops at in June 2015 (“Successful Approaches for Combatting Unemployment in Europe – BerlinWorks as a Starting Point”) and December 2015 (“Work 4.0 – made in Berlin”) are now available for download in German & English on the Senate Department for Labour, Integration & Women’s Issues website.
I’m pleased to announce that I will be offering not only “Berlin’s Urban Development from Cölln to Capital: People, Politics, Places” at the Freie Universität again this coming winter semester, but I will also be offering a new course “Housing Choice & Urban Development,” which deals with the social, architectural and political push- and pull-factors behind housing choice and the effects on urban development, at the Hochschule für Technik und Wirtschaft.
In June of 2015, I spoke at the Make_City Festival here in Berlin in the course of the publicity surrounding our newly released book. You can see my quote here around minute 2:00.