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Re-framing the Discourse

By themyceliaproject / August, 26, 2011 / 0 comments

Re-framing the Discourse of Urban Decline Through the Spatial Analysis of Urban Agriculture and the Restructuring of the “Post-Industrial City”

The Mycelia Project - Living the Dissertation - Emmanuel Pratt

Title: “Urban Agriculture and the Post-Industrial City”

For the past several decades, the concept of ‘urban agriculture’ has become increasingly more popular and today is being written into comprehensive policy plans by a growing number of cities as a potential strategy for economic and community development . However, despite its growing popularity, the concept of urban agriculture is still not readily understood by most people, city planners included. In its totality, urban agriculture represents a potential system of growing, processing, distribution, sales, consumption, and ultimately the reuse of crops, livestock, fuel, soil, water, and energy in a manner to promote a localized food system as well as a source of potential job creation. The system incorporates a range of design practices including aquaponics, hydroponics, aeroponics, and other such lesser-known innovative design approaches for the adaptive reuse of water, light, air, land, space, and energy operating across a multiplicity of scales and urban site conditions.

The purpose of the study has been to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the experiences, challenges, and obstacles of urban agricultural practitioners particularly within the city of Milwaukee, WI. Over the past decade, Milwaukee has been highlighted as a forerunner in the Urban Agricultural movement and has attracted international attention. The study explores the intersections of experiences of city residents, city officials, designers, city planners, educators, and politicians alike concerning the implications of urban agriculture as a comprehensive system on traditional approaches to city planning and community development. As such, the research explores the dynamics of how differing forms of value and meaning are assigned and concepts of power are negotiated in both day-to-day activities with respect to the following question:

What are the implications of urban agriculture, as an emerging 21st century industry, on land use and zoning strategies for the restructuring of the post industrial city?

More specifically, the dissertation examines three different urban agriculture case studies in Milwaukee, WI which offer potential strategies and innovative methods for addressing chronic urban problems (such as unemployment, food insecurity, poverty) across ‘blighted’ urban landscapes. The case studies will  explore the utilization of urban agriculture in the following:

I) a residential neighborhood stabilization effort within a disinvested, ’blighted’ industrial corridor
II) a community food center within a ‘food desert’
III) a hybridized incubator model for both for-profit commercial scale food production and technologies along with non-profit entity promoting educational and community outreach.


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