Houston to speak at UMass, Amherst for Zube Lecture Series

Serin Houston will give a virtual talk, entitled “Unsettling Whiteness in Neighborhood Planning: Social Justice Efforts in Seattle, WA,” as part of the Zube Lecture Series at the UMass, Amherst Department of Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning. The virtual talk is scheduled for March 25, 2021 at 4pm EST. The Zube Lecture Series is free and open to everyone. The link to join the Zube lectures can be found here.

Houston’s talk is based on her book, Imagining Seattle: Social Values in Urban Governance. A summary for her talk is as follows: Seattle, Washington’s Race and Social Justice Initiative, a citywide initiative focused on eliminating institutional racism and race-based disparities, has notably revamped everything from professional development trainings to budget processes to neighborhood planning approaches. These changes in urban governance have better aligned social justice ideals with material practices and illustrate the crucial role of unsettling whiteness. Unsettling whiteness refers to intentionally disrupting the normative power of whiteness to reproduce racial hierarchies and craft systems, structures, and stances that principally benefit white people. With this in mind, in this talk, I examine the unsettling of whiteness in the 2009 neighborhood planning efforts in North Beacon Hill, New Holly – Othello, and North Rainer Valley in Seattle to demonstrate how changing planning processes produced more inclusive and equitable results. I discuss the use of planning outreach liaisons, different locational and linguistic practices, and targeted community engagement strategies to show how unsettling whiteness shaped this planning cycle. While Seattle’s neighborhood planning still had some shortfalls, overall it produced more inclusive and representative plans. My research underscores that analyzing how whiteness constrains planning endeavors and working to center equitable approaches instead is necessary and worthwhile.

Hope you can attend!