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When local governments neglect public services or community priorities, how do concerned citizens respond? In The Help-Yourself City: Legitimacy and Inequality in DIY Urbanism, Dr. Douglas looks closely at people who take urban planning into their own hands with homemade signs and benches, guerrilla bike lanes, and more. He explores the frustration, creativity, and technical expertise behind these interventions, but also the position of privilege from which they often come. Presenting a needed analysis of this growing trend from vacant lots to city planning offices, The Help-Yourself City tells a street-level story of people’s relationships to their urban surroundings and a troubling individualization of participatory democracy.

About the Author

Dr. Douglas is an assistant professor in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning, and also serves as director of SJSU's Institute for Metropolitan Studies. His research, teaching, and community work focuses on questions of social equity and cultural identity in urban space, and have been featured in The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, 99% Invisible, and KQED Forum with Michael Krasny, among other outlets. His writing and photography have appeared in a range of publications including City and Community, Urban Studies, the Journal of Urban Design and a variety of magazines, newspapers, and blogs.

Date of Event

Spring 2-19-2020


Infrastructure | Urban Studies | Urban Studies and Planning

The Help-Yourself City: Legitimacy and Inequality in DIY Urbanism