March 29, 2007

Special use values

John Logan and Harvey Molotch in their seminal work on the political economy of place define the "special use values" of place as follows: "Places have a certain preciousness for their users that is not part of the conventional concept of a commodity. A crucial initial difference is that place is indispensable; all human activity must occur somewhere. Individuals cannot do without place by substituting another product. They can, of course, do with less place and less desirable place, but they cannot do without place altogether....Although the connection to place can vary in intensity for different class, age, gender, and ethnic groups, individual relationships to place are often characterized by intense feelings and commitments appropriate to long-term and multifaceted social and material attachments....Access to resources like friends, jobs, and schools is so important that residents (as continuous consumers-buyers) are willing to resort to all sorts of 'extramarket' mechanisms to fight for their right to keep locational relations intact. They organize, protest, use violence, and seek political regulation. They strive not just for tenure in a given home but for stability in the surrounding neighborhood as well" (1987, 17-19). Here - in the East Bay - and elsewhere, individuals and groups are defending special use values. Derby Street closure (search the Daily Planet) Pacific Steel emissions (search the Daily Planet) Franklin School site/ Berkeley Adult School (no recent news articles, but the play field at the Adult School is still fenced and unused) Save the Memorial Oak Grove, Berkeley The Clean Energy Jobs bill (Speaker Pelosi and the Ella Baker Center, Oakland) South Central farmers, Los Angeles A homeowner fights for her home in Chongqing, China NYC High Line project Upcoming posts Community gardening in Sacramento Detroit: an initial exploration

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