After the Election

Statue of Liberty, New York Harbor.
Statue of Liberty, New York Harbor, looking east. [Library of Congress]

Do what you can, with what you’ve got, where you are.
— Theodore Roosevelt

This past weekend the staff and board of Places Journal gathered in New York City for our annual fall meeting — an event scheduled months ago, back in a time in America that feels suddenly distant, before the election to the presidency of a billionaire grifter whose ugly campaign was steeped in a hateful brew of racism, misogyny, xenophobia, homophobia, Islamophobia, and anti-Semitism. By now these words practically type themselves.

Like so much else since November 9, our meeting was normal and not-normal.

On a bright Saturday morning, we assembled in a high-ceilinged classroom at the Pratt Institute, in Brooklyn, and, as usual, we reviewed recent progress and new projects. But during the morning one board member, a professor at a public university in the Midwest, fielded emails from colleagues about a campus hate crime: a young man threatened to set a student on fire if she didn’t remove her hijab. By midday we heard from one of our authors that at her Manhattan school the dormitory walls were defaced with swastikas drawn in black marker. (The Southern Poverty Law Center has counted more than 300 post-election hate crimes, many on campuses around the country.) By the end of the afternoon our news feeds were filling up with the impassioned statements of architects who objected to a conciliatory statement in which the American Institute of Architects committed its national membership to “working with” the president-elect.

Here at Places we stand with those now organizing to resist the normalization of an administration whose dangerous agenda — withdrawing from international climate agreements, expanding fossil fuel production, gutting the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Education, erecting a border wall, deporting millions, cutting off sanctuary cities, repealing the Affordable Care Act, undermining freedom of speech and assembly — threatens to reverse decades of progress, or worse.

As a journal of public scholarship on the built environment, Places remains dedicated to the editorial mission articulated on our site: to confronting the challenges of environmental health and urban inequality, of climate change, resource scarcity, human migration, rapid technological innovation, and the erosion of the public sphere and civil liberties. We recognize the need to redouble this commitment in the years ahead.

This will be a testing time, requiring vigilance and resolve. It will also require independent media empowered to provide the trustworthy information that is essential to democratic society. To this end we invite queries from writers, and we welcome donations from readers who wish to join us in supporting the production of non-profit journalism and scholarship in the public interest.