Topics

I work on a broad range of topics having to do with social inclusion and sustainability.

Urban commons and community-led projects

Urban commons are resources in the city which are managed by the users in a non-profit-oriented and prosocial way. They go by many names, from grassroots activism to community-led initiatives. I have been working on this topic since 2012, when the Urban Research Group decided to host a conference about citizen-led projects in cities. Little did I know that this work would yield two books (Urban Commons: Moving beyond State and Market and The Urban Commons Cookbook) and a wealth of other articles. Read more about my work on urban commons on my blog here.

Policies to support cultural and creative industries

Cultural and creative industries (CCI) form the backbone of a vibrant modern urban economy. My 2017 German-language book Städtewandel durch Kultur examined the role of culture and creative industries in urban development from the end of WWII until today, and its potential for resilient urban development. Since then, I have worked to integrate commons principles into my CCI consulting work, also in combination with the reactivation of vacant buildings. Read more about my work on CCI on my blog here.

The sustainable reactivation of vacant buildings

The intermediate and adaptive reuse of vacant buildings and the challenges faced by shrinking cities have been a central focus of my work since I moved to Germany in 2007. My work on this topic led me to publish a book chapter on design in shrinking cities, receive a grant from the German Marshall Fund to conduct transatlantic research on the topic, and provide ad hoc expertise for the ALT/BAU URBACT transfer network. You can read more about my work on vacancy and shrinking cities on my blog.

Inclusive citizen participation

Social inclusion is a central aspect of what I do, and nowhere is that more important that citizen participation. This topic has been the main focus of my work over the last five years, in particular the CIVACT project. Most recently, I have won a tender to provide interactive and inclusive citizen participation formats to accompany a cross-community greenway development in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Read more about my work on social inclusion on my blog here.

Gender equality in urban policy

Gender equality, as a subset of social inclusion, is a relatively recent addition to my work topics, but one which has quickly moved front and center. Most notably, I have been working as the Lead Expert for the GenderedLandscape URBACT Action Planning Network since 2019. As a result of this work, I have also been offering consulting services on this topic, for example the keynote for Chemnitz’ celebration of 30 years of gender equality or a written assessment of Frankfurt am Main’s new public transportation plan from the perspective of women and girls. Read more about my work on gender equality on my blog here.

The political, symbolic, and normative aspects of architecture and urban planning

My work on the political, symbolic, and normative aspects of architecture and urban planning range from cultural and memory studies (for example the recent spinoff of my dissertation, Inventing Berlin) to understanding how the positioning of benches and street furniture affect who uses public space how. These aspects have real consequences for inclusion, nationalism and populism, as I’ve explored in a number of articles focusing on East German identity. Read more about my work on nationalism on my blog here.