Places Journal seeks articles that explore the complex dynamic of public and private in contemporary politics and culture, and how this dynamic influences the design and production of buildings, landscapes and cities.
This is a large topic, indeed one of the central issues of our time. In the past generation we witnessed a fundamental realignment, as the era of Roosevelt and the New Deal, with its broad-based confidence in the balance of public responsibility and private enterprise, gave way to the age of Reagan, with its faith in unfettered markets and limited government.
In recent years it has become clear that the commitment to public works has dramatically constricted just as electoral politics and congressional debate have come to revolve around the role of government.
The collapse of the housing market has brought home the risks of deregulation; rising homelessness has stressed the social safety net. Faltering efforts to rebuild post-disaster New Orleans and the Gulf of Mexico have exposed the fallout from public disinvestment in urban and environmental infrastructures. Growing opposition to natural gas pipelines across the country (“no fracking way”) has unified water-drinking citizens across party lines, underscoring the perils of an energy portfolio dominated by fossil fuels.
But today – after a year that dawned with the Arab Spring and ended with Occupy Wall Street – we see new challenges to the prevailing economic liberalism, an intensifying awareness of the consequences (unintended or not) of privatization. This meta-question of public and private will be at the center of national discussion in the election year of 2012.
How will we confront the big-scale social and environmental challenges that define our century? To what extent will New York and San Francisco and Miami address the threat of rising seas? How will Los Angeles and Phoenix and Las Vegas adapt to the likelihood of long-term drought? Will the U.S. construct a continental network of gas pipelines, or redouble the commitment to renewables? Will we retrofit our auto-centric suburbs to reduce energy demand?
How might the environmental design professions respond most effectively to these challenges?
At Places we want to analyze these matters from diverse disciplines and multiple perspectives, including design, policy, history, theory, and others.
Editorial Guidelines: We welcome submissions in the form of either proposals or finished manuscripts. For more information, please read our Submissions page: http://places.designobserver.com/submissions.html
Contact: Send queries and submissions to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Schedule: This is an open call with no time limit. We will publish work on a continual basis, with the goal of spurring ongoing debate and discussion.