Author: Emma Radich

The New Neighborhood: Master Plan

Master Plan:

 

IMG_1715

 

Important Structure (Community Park):

The Community Park is the central communal structure of The New Neighborhood. It is designed so that all pathways from the residential district and all pathways from the agricultural district filter through the park. Because people’s pathways through the days flow through the park, it necessitates community interaction by design. The goal of the park is to provide a space wherein community members can intermingle while using the space entirely at their discretion, giving people the freedom to engage with the space as they wish.

 

Artist Statement:

 

The New Neighborhood

The goal of my utopia is to challenge American society’s approach to punishment and imprisonment. The logic of the modern prison system is that crime and deviance must be handled by isolating the people responsible from the rest of society. However, our process of isolating those we punish and labeling them as deviant results in a lack of reintegration back into society, leading to high recidivism rates in incarcerated populations.

The utopia I have designed, The New Neighborhood, is a community that takes a different approach to handling crime, punishment, and community members who violate standards. Rather than approaching these problems with an isolationist strategy, The New Neighborhood model is based upon the ideas of inclusion, cooperation, and interdependence in order to sustain community ties that are severed by the current criminal justice system. The community is designed as a self-sustaining neighborhood where people must work cooperatively and flow through different districts of the community in their daily lives. While the community is self sustainable via agriculture, fishing, and sustainable energy infrastructure, it forms a relationship with the outside world by traveling through nearby areas and selling excess produce, therefore fostering a positive relationship with outsiders. To be clear, the New Neighborhood is not a penal colony, it is a community of people who want to experiment with a new approach to handling issues of crime, punishment, and how we deal with these social problems. 

 

LOCATION

The New Neighborhood is located on the banks of Eagle Lake, in the high desert of Northern California. The placement is partially because the high desert is decent land for agriculture, while having a lake nearby provides necessary natural resources. The placement is also in proximity to a town called Susanville, which is known for being a “prison town”.

The economy of Susanville originally revolved around agriculture, mining, and lumber. Today, it is one of many rural towns in America whose economy depends entirely on the state and federal prisons that have been established within the towns. The establishment of prisons within Susanville was intended as means to revitalize the economy, after Susanville suffered massive job losses when the fields of farming, mining, and lumber declined. Today, the Susanville economy revolves around prisons– in 2007, half of the adult population were employed by one of the three nearby correctional institutions. This trend still sustains today, as both the High Desert State Prison and the California Correctional Center employ approximately five-to-ten times the amount of people as most other employers in the area.

The statistics of employment in Susanville may sound shocking, but they are typical of many towns like it across America that have utilized prisons as economic stimulus. The meaning behind positioning my Utopia so close to Susanville is so that my challenge to the United States’ approach to punishment can function in dialogue with communities that are sustained by it. However, I do not intend for the communities to have a hostile relationship, which is why selling our produce and goods and fostering relationships with people in Susanville and other nearby communities.

 

COMMUNITY DESIGN

The New Neighborhood is designed to work with the natural topography of its setting, while encouraging daily flow throughout all the districts of the community to promote optimal inclusion and engagement. Units for harvesting sustainable energy are positioned at the highest topographical level. Next down are the residential areas, which are single-family homes to mimic life outside of the community and to give residents a sense of privacy. Next are the community centers, parks, and schools. Finally, at the last topographical level is where the farming is done and where the docks for fishing on the lake are.

The community itself would be designed to handle punishment in an inclusive and unmarked way. In its beginnings, my model of a society would have to be relatively small, with about 1,000 members at the most. Overtime, if the model was working, it would be reasonable to increase the size. Another reason that I would like the society to start small is that I would like for my society to deal with deviance within a court system. However, massive court systems tend to produce one-size-fits-all punishments, such as mandatory minimum sentences. I would prefer for my court system to cater punishments to the individual and the specifics of the offense. I would also propose that trials remain private. Although I understand the rationale of opening trials to the public to ensure there are no abuses of power behind closed doors, the publicity of trials actually serve more as demonstrations of the state’s power over an individual serve to publicly label that citizen as deviant.

I would also hope to redefine what constitutes a crime worthy of punitive action. In my society, low-level, non-violent offenses would not be suitable for punitive action as dramatic as imprisonment. It would only be appropriate to excommunicate an individual if they committed an act of violence and endangered the freedom and welfare of other people in the community. Other crimes, such as theft, could be repaired by compulsory community service- however, it is not necessary for that service to be obvious. Community service should be kept discreet to avoid deviant labels being assigned to the people performing them.

Essentially, the community would operate similarly to a neighborhood, though the day’s work would be an inclusive effort. The only markable difference is the strategy with which punishment is handled — by encouraging the individual to be more included into the daily workings of the community, rather than excommunicated.

 

ADVERTISING/ RECRUITMENT

The best way to communicate with people who have grown up in a capitalist economy is to engage in that rhetoric so that the community ideas don’t seem so strange or threatening. For the broadside, I am inspired by advertisements encouraging suburban living from the post-war era. As such, the broadsides are brochures with the community manifesto included on the inside. These advertisements marketed newly-zoned suburban land as a means of building a family while being more in touch with community, and with the natural world. The rhetoric of these advertisements also approaches outsiders in a familiar language, rather than startling them with language that seems too radical or outside of the norm. I am also inspired by the concern that the New England Shaker communities had with presenting themselves as relevant, modern, and in-tune with the outside world in order to attract more participants. As such, the community is presented as a neighborhood that includes modern accommodations such as single-family homes and public school systems, so it does not seem too foreign for outsiders. These brochures will be distributed to recruit people when the group travels around the area to sell their produce. The rationale behind having traveling farm stands around the area is that it gives community members an opportunity to engage with outsiders in a fun, relaxed setting (also, it is a way of making a profit for the community).

 

The People

The New Neighborhood would be open to anyone who wanted to join. The community would especially look to recruit people from Susanville or other prison towns–those who may feel that they need a break from a life revolving around the criminal justice system.

The rhythm of life would not be entirely dissimilar to a typical work day– adults go to work, children go to school. However, the types of industry that people would work out would be generally geared toward community bettering. Prominent places of work would be an environmental bettering agency, the school system, sustainable agriculture, fishing and consistent community upkeep. Community upkeep would generally be focused on keeping infrastructure updated and maintaining the sustainability plots within neighborhoods.

I would want for neighborhood units to be designed in a way that ensured everyone’s basic needs would be provided for. Central to each neighborhood would be a small community garden whose upkeep was a communal responsibility. The goal of making sure everyone’s needs are provided for and the focus on community upkeep in my society is to foster an overarching sense of inclusion. This sense of inclusion, I hope, would function against factors in American society that contribute to our impulse to isolate those who we see as criminal.

 

Manifesto and Broadside:

 

Broadside

 

 

 

Outside of Prison Town, USA

“Susanville, CA” citydata.com, 2018.

“Susanville”, City of Susanville, CA 2018

“Lassan County Incorporated and Unincorporated Areas”, Lassan County 2018.

“The California Correctional Center”, lightinprison.org, 2018

Susanville, formerly Roopville, is a rural town in north-eastern California. With a population of about 17,000 people, Susanville has always been a small community. Susanville was originally founded by Isaac Roop, and its present name was adopted in 1857. The town was incorporated in 1900. The California Correctional Center opened there in 1963, the High Desert State Prison opened in 1995, and the Federal Correctional Institution, Herlong, opened nearby in 2007. Susanville was the subject of a 2007 documentary entitled “Prison Town, USA”.

 

The economy of Susanville originally revolved around agriculture, mining, and lumber. Today, it is one of many rural towns in America whose economy depends entirely on the state and federal prisons that have been established within the towns. The establishment of prisons within Susanville was intended as means to revitalize the economy, after Susanville suffered massive job losses when the fields of farming, mining, and lumber declined. Today, the Susanville economy revolves around prisons– in 2007, half of the adult population were employed by one of the three nearby correctional institutions. This trend still sustains today, as both the High Desert State Prison and the California Correctional Center employ approximately five-to-ten times the amount of people as most other employers in the area (this includes the county and city governments, the nearby Lassen College, the school district, the medical center and Walmart). 

It is worth noting that the population count of 17,000 people includes those who are incarcerated at either the High Desert State Prison and the California Correctional Center.  The working adult population in Susanville is about 4500 people, meaning that approximately 2250 of those work at one of these two prisons. Between the 2000 and 2010 census, the prison population rose by about 4000 people, meaning that more people had to be hired to keep up with the demands of a higher prison population. In fact, there are signs that Susanville may be in need of a new facility- both the High Desert State Prison and the California Correctional Facility have been over capacity for some time. The Susanville economy is heavily reliant on the prison system, and though the prison population in the California Correctional Center has been declining over the 2010s, 2017 sparked a new boost in inmate population. The current inmate population of California Correctional Center is 4468, and the population at the High Desert State Prison is 3442. 

The town population of Susanville leans to the right of the political spectrum. I could not find any data on the political leanings of its incarcerated population.

There are multiple reasons that I believe the area outside Susanville would be an appropriate place to situate my utopian community. First, being in a rural area means that we do not run the risk of kicking people off their land or out of their communities, as there is abundant space to build on. Second, because it is situated at the intersection of two major highways, Susanville is very accessible to the outside world, meaning my Utopia could be easy to join. Third, the fact that the town has a history of an agricultural economy means that it would be thinkable to attempt sustainable farming here. Fourth, high deserts are a great place to harness sustainable energy- the high elevation makes wind turbines a good option, and the harsh sunlight is good for farming and harnessing solar energy.

Finally, the reason why I wanted to set up my Utopia near a prison town is that I want to be able to reach out to people who are directly involved with the prison system, be they newly released inmates or the people whose livelihoods revolve around being part of the prison system. If we think about the mechanics of building interest in a community, it is much easier to engage people in conversation whose lives are immediately affected by the problem that we are trying to tackle. Finally, if my Utopian community is successful, we will be able to demonstrate our society in opposition to the specific aspects of American society that we are problematizing.

 

 

 

Rethinking Heterotopias: the New Neighborhood Model

The social problem that my utopia will attempt to solve is that of how we handle, correct, manage, and treat deviance. In our class on heterotopias, we discussed the ways in which they can operate as regulatory institutions, exceptional spaces that are made to create good citizens. Three examples of heterotopias, the school, the psychiatric hospital, and the prison, are also constructed in part to handle deviance. The purpose of the school within society is to produce young adults who are ready to be citizens, -however, the punitive measures that schools utilize often result in a student being labeled as deviant, which can be harmful to their educational and social performance within the system. The psychiatric hospital reached its prime in the early-to-mid twentieth century, and was a method of closeting people away who showed traits that society deemed deviant. The downfall of the psychiatric hospital co-insided with the rise of the prison population– this is what some sociology scholars call “the punitive turn”. We have an extraordinarily large prison population in this country, and we have a system designed so that it is very difficult for former inmates to re-enter society with the full rights of citizenship and to participate in society without the risk of recidivism. Clearly, the way that American society handles what we deem to be deviant behavior is profoundly dysfunctional and unconcerned with the harm it causes to its subjects. The goal of my society is to reconstruct how we handle discipline, punishment, and the adverse effects of labelling people as deviant.

 

In its beginnings, my model of a society would have to be relatively small, with about 1,000 members at the most. Overtime, if the model was working, it would be reasonable to increase the size. Another reason that I would like the society to start small is that I would like for my society to deal with deviance within a court system. However, massive court systems tend to produce one-size-fits-all punishments, such as mandatory minimum sentences. I would prefer for my court system to cater punishments to the individual and the specifics of the offense. I would also propose that trials remain private. Although I understand the rationale of opening trials to the public to ensure there are no abuses of power behind closed doors, the publicity of trials actually serve more as demonstrations of the state’s power over an individual serve to publicly label that citizen as deviant.

I would also hope to redefine what constitutes a crime worthy of punitive action. In my society, low-level, non-violent offenses would not be suitable for punitive action as dramatic as imprisonment. In my society, it would only be appropriate to remove an individual from the community if they committed an act of violence and endangered the freedom and welfare of other people in the community. Other crimes, such as theft, could be repaired by compulsory community service- however, it is not necessary for that service to be obvious. Community service should be kept discreet to avoid deviant labels being assigned to the people performing them.

In addition, the punitive institution in my society would look nothing like the prison system in America. I am inspired by some northern European systems where the punishment is the removal of freedom itself, but not much else about the inmate’s lives change. Inmates have their own apartments where they can cook their own food, watch TV, call their loved ones regularly, and have choice over their schedules and clothing. They have town centers with grocery stores and community activities. If inmates would like to work, they are welcome to do so, but they ought to be paid a fair wage that rises consistently with inflation in order for them to have enough economic resources to successfully re-enter society. In terms of deviance, I believe this model is effective because rather than treating people as deviant subjects, there is a level of normalcy that has the potential to make them feel included in society.

The rhythm of life would not be entirely dissimilar to a typical work day– adults go to work, children go to school. However, the types of industry that people would work out would be generally geared toward community bettering. Prominent places of work would be an environmental bettering agency, the school system, sustainable agriculture, and consistent community upkeep. Community upkeep would generally be focused on keeping infrastructure updated and maintaining the sustainability plots within neighborhoods.

I would want for neighborhood units to be designed in a way that ensured everyone’s basic needs would be provided for. Central to each neighborhood would be a plot dedicated to solar panels or wind turbines, which would provide energy to the neighborhood. Nearby would be a small community garden whose upkeep was a communal responsibility. The goal of making sure everyone’s needs are provided for and the focus on community upkeep in my society is to foster an overarching sense of inclusion. This sense of inclusion, I hope, would function against factors in American society that contribute to the construction of deviance, such as the shunning of those with deviant labels.

Sustainable, private, utopian home

The utopian ideal I want my house to embody is that of post-scarcity. My ideal home would provide sources for sustainable energy, ample private garden space, some chickens/ other livestock, and a water treatment/ compost center. I would ideally want my sustainable energy system to be shared with my neighbors, so that everyone has enough to power their homes. For this reason, I would want a large lot of shared solar panels in the back of my property. I believe that a home can only be utopian if everyone’s needs are sufficiently provided for, but I would like my home to have the design means for me to mostly sustain myself.

My family, who would live in this house, reflects how I would chose to live a utopian life. I don’t want children, so I did not design spaces for them. I am someone who needs a decent amount of privacy, so the public spaces and private spaces of the house are clearly divided. I would likely choose to live in this house with a partner and several pets. As I would not be in this house alone, I wanted to design a space where motion throughout can be relatively fluid, and functions/ designs of rooms can be altered when needed to reflect my changing taste or the choices of my roommate or partner.

 

Questionnaire:

 

Because I believe that living rules between people should be an open compromise, I don’t want to delineate specific rules for a roommate that they must follow. Instead, I will list requirements for adopted pets (likely dogs and cats).

 

  1. Is the animal a rescue?
  2. Are they up-to-date on their shots?
  3. Have they been neutered or spayed?
  4. Are they a mixed breed? (pure-bred animals tend to have medical problems, and I don’t want to encourage breeding practices that cause harm).
  5. What were their circumstances like before this, and would they be likely to adapt to life in this house?
  6. Do they get along well with other animals?
  7. Do they have any dietary restrictions/ illnesses?
  8. Do they tend to be more social or independent?
  9. Do they suffer from any past abuse or trauma?
  10. Do they enjoy the indoors or outdoors more?

 

The downstairs of the space is the social space. The house is designed so that it is very easy to move between indoor and outdoor space. The indoor courtyard is both a garden and social space. The upstairs is the private space, but it is also possible to move between indoor and outdoor spaces via the decks overlooking the courtyard and the screened-in porch. The outside of the space is mostly natural, but it has a few key features that make it sustainable: a grey water treatment center, shared solar panels, a small range for chickens, and a shared compost center. It is roughly one acre away from the surrounding homes in order to ensure privacy, but not too far away to be isolated. Ideally, my home would be situated about two miles away from town, a short bike ride.

The goal of this design is to try to integrate the outdoors and indoors as much as possible, create a fluid and malleable space, and create enough resources to sustain one’s own living and potentially share with neighbors so that energy, food, and resources will remain abundant and people in the community won’t be lacking necessities.

 

 

 

Unity, Accessibility, Autonomy

 

 

Unity

A campus cannot come together as one without unity amongst the student body and its surrounding community, including professors, staff, and the greater area. We must cultivate a sense of community to fight the ever increasing isolation that is infesting the campus, for a happier Bard College that can positively influence its surroundings. This unity can be fostered both architecturally and formally, and all steps must be taken to spread community to each and every person at Bard.

 

  • Centralized space for student use: There is no structure on this campus whose only aim and purpose is student gathering and comfort. Although any Campus Center is meant to be a place for students, as a space that can be used freely by those who it was built for, this is not our reality. We want an open space that is not separated into smaller, closed off rooms, a space that is not reserved for offices or club gatherings, but instead one that allows for all students to use the space however they wish, both in groups and individually.
  • Transparency of Working Conditions of Bard Staff, Especially Environmental Service Workers: If we want unity throughout our campus, we cannot ignore everyone who contributes to student learning, and for this reason we ask for increased solidarity with campus staff. Concretely, we, as the student body of this college, must demand transparency when it comes to working conditions, to better hold the institution accountable for how they treat those that make its existence possible. The institution owes its staff a living wage and fai conditions, and staff should feel absolutely free to unite amongst each other to demand what they are owed, without having to jeopardize their position. As the students and main economic contributors, we have the power to help those that help us, and so must stand together to unite not only the student body, butt every person who makes this college what it is.
  • Solidarity Amongst All Classes: Bard is a space that is meant to accommodate people of all economic classes, yet there is still a strong divide within the student body. Although this isn’t an issue that can be resolved without a worldwide change, it can, and should, be addressed for a better future. Class solidarity must come from each individual in order to strengthen the group, it requires an awareness of the effect class has on us in any environment, and a desire to help others wherever we can. Fostering unity and creating community will bring us closer to each other, and realizing the autonomy of the individual within the united body can create an atmosphere of understanding and compassion.

 

Accessibility

It is necessary for the everyone in our student body to have equal access to the resources that will allow them to best exercise their autonomy in crafting their best college experiences. We believe that applying the principle of accessibility to the following issues will allow the student body to get the most out of both their educational and social experiences here at Bard.

 

  • Penalties for Behavioral Violations: In cases where students must appear before the SRB for drinking, drug use, or other such behavioral issues on campus, we believe that students should not be fined for these violations. Fines such as these may have a higher impact on lower-income students- thus, these fines can have unequal consequences on the quality of a student’s life. Instead, we propose that students who violate behavioral expectations perform community service work instead, thus improving the quality of life for the entire Bard community and relieving students of unnecessary financial stress.
  • Accessibility to Classes: Classes that require more expensive materials, such as photography classes or classes that require expensive books, can present a financial hurdle to the education of lower-income students. We propose that there should be no extra charge for these materials, so that all students can have the opportunity to enrich their education without financial stress.
  • Fees for Replacing Student IDs and Room Keys: Every year, the price of replacing student IDs and room key cards has slightly increased. We propose that these prices should stay stagnant and no longer increase on a yearly basis.
  • Gender Neutral Bathrooms: We propose that all bathrooms on this campus be made gender neutral. In the more public buildings on campus, such as the Campus Center, Kline, or Olin, gender neutral restrooms are tucked away on upper floors or in the backs of buildings. We believe that our trans/ non-binary classmates deserve equal access to restrooms in order to feel welcome and comfortable on our campus. We also propose putting sanitary bins in each stall, so that both male and female-bodied community members can use these bathrooms at all times.
  • Chartwells: We believe that students should have access to any and all food options that they would like to see on campus. Students should be able to run their own food co-ops or invite other food providers on campus without intervention from Chartwells.
  • Parking: Despite the construction in recent years, there is still not enough parking for students on campus. When lots are full and students have to park creatively, they are ticketed and fined. We believe that the administration should provide ample parking for students around all classrooms and dorms.
  • Health Services: We believe that the medications, exams, and screenings from Health Services should be free to students. We believe that in order to be a successful student body, we must be a healthy student body, and campus health care should be a basic service that students of all income levels have access to.
  • Communication with Administration: As of now, the best way for students to communicate their thoughts and concerns with the administration is through student government. However, student government at Bard has a very limited number of positions. We propose establishing a monthly open forum with members of the administration so that students can have access to a means of direct communication with the administration.
  • Title IX: The most important requirement for a successful education is for students to have access to a feeling of safety. As of now, the Title IX office has limited resources, and all final decisions on Title IX cases are made by one man. We propose that there should be a board of administrators who decide the fate of Title IX cases, and students ought to have an influence on who should be on this board, be it by vote or by an open forum.

 

Autonomy

Students, to be able to function efficiently and effectively in the their goals, must have autonomy. We need more freedom of choice and action on this campus. This does not negate however, the importance of the college administrative body. It is simply a call for more independence for the students of Bard College.

 

  • Dining services: It is important that students have choice over where, when and what they eat. We strongly support more venues of on campus dining as well as extended hours of service. We also propose a system for those who use swaps as an alternative to the current one. We demand that we can use as many or as little swaps we want in a day anytime of day, without swaps being sectioned off by use for each time block.
  • Social Spaces: We the students of Bard need more spaces of campus specifically dedicated to be used by students for the purpose of having social spaces to interact.

Knowledge, Linkage, and Accessibility

The aspects of knowledge that we chose to focus on in designing our model were ideas of accessibility, linkage/ communication, and contribution. It was important to us that people would be able to enter the space of our monument, as we wanted knowledge to feel both accessible to everyone and open to contribution from everyone.

The foil on our monument represents a mirror, which serves to reflect the viewer in the space. As such, the viewer contributes to the production of knowledge in that their presence manipulates and changes the space. The multi-colored strong represents communication between institutions and individuals, institutions and institutions, and individuals to individuals (the larger bodies are institutions and the smaller bodies are individuals).

In our Monument to Knowledge, we wanted to create a space where institutions and individuals could communicate and contribute equally.

We feel that questions of accessibility to knowledge are often grappled with, but questions of contribution are not. Typically, what we consider to be knowledge comes from an institution, be it the academy, a governing body, etc. The goal of our Monument was to combat this idea that knowledge can only be produced by a few institutions, and instead celebrate the idea that anyone can contribute to the production of knowledge.