Emergency Architecture and Planning: Recovering Beirut Post-Explosion

Emergency Architecture and Planning: Recovering Beirut Post-Explosion

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00:04
hello everyone um i'm marlon droves i'm the dean of the graduate school of architecture planning and preservation welcoming you to this really heartwarming and important event on the recovery of beirut after the explosion of august 4. before i say a few words about beirut and his special place in my heart and in our imagination as architects and planners from
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around the world i want to thank hibabu akar professor here at the school as well as all our incredible alumni um colleagues friends uh that i saw on the screen before the event went on and uh and that you will have a great pleasure i think of hearing today beirut is a very small but very large in terms of what it suggests
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historically about the development of cities culture of geographies of policies and politics but it's it's it's very large uh in terms of the weight it carries as to uh what has been done in terms of imagining uh what cities can do and can be and and how people can live and i think what it can do in the future so um as i think hiba and the panelists will share today
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there's been so many iterations of rebuilding reconstructing recovering now and yet we are back again but i hope we all hope this time that some of the foundations will be uh stronger uh infrastructural uh housing uh um questions of preservation uh the virtual uh uh and the physical coming together uh so much to learn from beirut and to
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project outwards and also so much for all of us to give back in terms of our knowledge um and our care for for the city so welcome everyone and i turn it over um to hibba and to the first panel good afternoon and good evening good morning to all the 500 plus people who are joining us from across the globe to talk about emergency architecture and planning recovering beirut post-explosion i'm hereby barker assistant professor of
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urban planning at columbia university's graduate school of architecture planning and preservation will use gsap for short before i introduce the panelists i want to thank dinamal andraws for making gsap a place where it is possible to convene and have such critical and imminent conversations about architecture planning and the built environment i would like to also thank big time lila catlier for her amazing support during decoration preparation for this event and for the av team the event today brings people from gsap
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and columbia university along with colleagues from across the globe thanks to the 18 panelists for joining us today from colombia i will start with an alphabetical order from colombia we welcome zia jamalidin assistant professor of architecture andreas haake associate professor of professional practice and director of the master's program in advanced architectural design laura kurgan professor of architecture and the director of the center for spatial research jorge otero peleo's professor and director of historic
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preservation mark wassup to lecture architecture zainab of ancient near eastern art and archaeology department of art history and archaeology and mana ahmad associate professor director of graduate studies department of history from beirut and across the globe we welcome munafawaz professor of urban planning department of architecture and design at the american university of beirut marijuana hondura professor and director of the school of architecture at the louisiana state university
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rania wilson associate professor of architecture and urbanism mit school of architecture and planning habib haddad managing partner of the e14 fund and the founder of yamli jean cassier co-founder and manager editor of mega megaphone adrian lahood dean of the school of architecture royal college of arts abir satsu founding partner public works studio nisrin salty associate professor of economics department of economics at the american university of beirut
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rana samara vice president of ngo nusanid hashem serkis dean of the mit school of architecture and planning andua el senno unhabitat area coordinator in lebanon the driving force for this event is an amazing group of gsap students alumni and alumni who i have had the utmost pleasure to work with over the past couple of months since the august 4th explosion that ripped beirut their enthusiasm creativity compassion organizing powers and perseverance while
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questioning and pushing the boundaries of what it seems to be an architect designer and a planner at times of crisis have been inspiring to me in fact they've given the cynicist in me hope that we will be all right in fact they embody the real hope for lebanon's future so herefore i introduce to you and present you the gsap collective for beirut representing the alumni we have yad aburaidah marilyn antaki aziz charles hash
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maison jalad ibrahim kumarji dina mahmood maya rafiya rula salamun and current students aya abdullah and michelan mckayla faraon just a word about the format the two hours will be divided into five modules around five topics we have 20 minutes per module we hope that this event will be just the beginning of a series that aims to tackle each conversation in more detail in the spring semester and onward for each module we have prepared one overarching question
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three or four panels will take the lead answering each question for about two minutes per participant and then we will open it up for discussion with the rest of the panelists at the end of the two hours a number of the panelists as well as the collective will stay online for a q a with the audience for about 30 minutes till about 2 30 2 30 p.m new york city time 9 30 p.m beirut time audience please feel free to use you to ask questions as we go through the discussion and we will be collecting these questions and addressing them
06:45
after we go through the five modules thank you for everyone thank you for participating and hope you enjoyed that hi everyone i'm od aziz thank you dean aman car for this introduction and thank you everyone for being here today we would like to extend our utmost gratitude to hiba you've shown tremendous support throughout this process so thank you for making this happen we are extremely happy to have such a distinguished fan of joining us today to openly discuss the urgency of recovering beirut
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i would like to begin by saying a few words about gisa gsab cultivates a sense of openness among students alumni and faculty fostering a space to share ideas thoughts during our time in school yet this does not stop after graduation gsab ideology continues as the school does not permit us to remain silent in time of crisis we were taught to think that architecture is not a mere singular tool but can be used in various forms and extensions in this situation it's an instrument for us
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in times of emergency we hope that this event will be one of many by the collective to keep the conversation going about beirut hello everyone my name is mikaela faron and i'm a current mark student at gsapp i'm thrilled to introduce the gsap collective for beirut on august 13th following the tragedy that happened a hundred days ago today a group of gsap alumni and students came together with the question how can we bring our expertise in connection to contribute to the great efforts made for beirut
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so we are based in beirut and new york but also in london amsterdam toronto cairo dubai and the hague brought together by zoom we formed the gsap collective for beirut the collective is dedicated to the promotion discussion and reflection of contemporary issues in the middle east and lebanon specifically we're interested in weaving a cross-functional network that facilitates collaborative thinking by connecting existing areas of expertise within and outside of the school encouraging cooperative involvement
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collaborating with assistant professor hibab we're so happy to be discussing here with all of you today beirut and the aftermath of the explosion that has forever changed the face of the city through this event recovering beirut post-explosion we would like to start with a short work in progress video that draws parallels between the blast and multiple crises in lebanon that happened throughout the years to situate this conversation in the past present and future we hope you enjoy it thank you
09:25
never would we have thought that rather than an israeli missile dripping an organic compound improperly stored at the port of beirut's warehouse apocalypse would cause the death and destruction of our city exploding the apocalypse exploding longer reverberating fogging bombing before the two explosions spreading people heard the ultra familiar sound of
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jet planes but it was only the sound of combustion impact warning signs simulator port and everything within a 10 kilometer radius planning would explode shake and shutter witnessing worrying trembling a wave of aluminum profiles like string cheese deserting the dust of crumbling stones cleaning glass shards cutting through
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everything and everyone in sight appropriating hospitalizing burning and those who survived witnessing it all marrying hoping nothing will bring us back how it was before august 4th lamenting helping offering sharing rescuing helping
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searching protesting official narratives processes it was almost that it was out of their hands congregating a mistake is another word for the systemic negligence that fuels the impunity of the same class sheltering stripping they say the city has to be rebuilt reconstructed assess we are not falling for that trafficking damaging rebuilding is the lingo of real
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estate vultures who could care less about these neighborhoods their people opening their characters counting documenting we knew about that all too well as well in a city of post-war reconstruction destroying inhaling exhaling burning rescuing cleaning recycling gathering
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piling and so an unprecedented leaking economic crisis collapsing a global pandemic accounting and a failing nation we recover closing we have become allergic to the world resilience stealing all we can do counting [Music] whether lived hoping or inherited hi my name is marilyn antaki and i'm a gsat alum now i'm going to be starting with this first
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question beirut sport has historically been a lifeline to the city and country yet in many ways the port has increasingly been disconnected from the city now that the explosion rendered the port once again central to the discussion around beirut's economic and physical recovery what are some of the ways we could start thinking about the port its reconstruction its relation to the city and residents and to beirut's regional and geopolitical position and salty can take the lead followed by
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an open discussion analyst if you can please turn on your cameras that would be great thank you hey hi everybody i'm erwin hondur thanks for organizing uh this event i just want to take maybe one aspect of the question and react to it which is what are some of the ways in which we can start thinking about the relationship of the port to the city and its residents and uh i would suggest that basically basically maybe we need to ask our
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the question of what is our uh who are we advocating to who are we supporting in whatever we we're acting at at this moment i mean as a lot of studies have covered uh the including you know munafa was and i wrote about this a decade ago is that you know beirut is basically a series or or a every reconstruction project has created uh or concentrated power and fewer hands be
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it wealthy or political factions and so on and the history of beirut is also a history of continuous uh sort of fracturing through policies regulations and and reconstruction projects so i would like to maybe concentrate more on the the less obvious if you want destruction that is created rather by reconstruction project but mostly
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by actually urban regulation and the if we think about all the urban regulation that beirut and uh lebanon and a lot of other contexts were subjected to we can see the the amount of destruction that that has created and one example is the idea that ekushar at some point came up with you know beirut being about the concentric rings of uh density from center outward i mean has over the years concentrated the density uh into the
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center which resulted in continuous destruction until this day of the historical fabric of the city and actually resulted in displacing people that have no place in the new developments that concentrated towards the center and so on we can also look at uh you know all the reconstruction projects i'm always thinking about if our lines and our regulations and text can produce sound they probably will produce sound
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much larger than the than the explosion of august 4th as this continuous destruction of the city that happened through uh the role of planners and designers in creating uh urban regulation for the uh city so the if we look at madame kyle and jimmy which are the more preserved if you want neighborhood they were preserved in spite of urban regulation in spite of urban visions and it's much more
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because of the the residents and because of you know the basically uh issues of uh the economy and so on so i would advocate for uh abandoning that sort of role uh of producing regulations visions master plans and so on from from you know to the city and maybe concentrate more on uh civil rights uh maybe the the right for you know
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clean air the right for natural ventilation the right of access to light the right of residents to stay in their historical home so rights that actually puts uh this um these uh uh whatever we advocate for in something outside urban regulation but part of civil rights uh rather which uh produce a different role and probably open us a lot of more actors in the field and
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maybe focus more on uh the present we as planners designers we're very good at analyzing present conditions representing it and reproducing it and seek a role in the present in in which we can actually work with uh making sure that uh people have access to their rights and we affirm these rights in the uh public realm so the uh and and maybe um uh
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let the future be shaped by how how people act and uh rather than imagine what the future could be maybe we can be surprised as we've always been surprised i mean beirut both on the high income level and the low income level have created residents have created their own way of inhabiting uh the city and maybe if we uh actually abandon our role as uh people that produce master plan visions and uh and imagine what the future could be we
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can be more effective in uh carrying the uh the residents to actually shape the city in whatever form it will take in the future what a follow-up on marwan and thank you hiba sap for hosting um so what i'll what i want to think with you today is uh basically attention and the possibility of holding on to thinking about beirut both the challenges of thinking of a
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place close to home but also the lure of not at least being surrounded by um such a such a community of thinkers and doers so when when the when the explosion happened on august 4th the eye of the storm was somehow the port of beirut so when the opportunity came to think of what that might be in terms of actively contributing to a vision in this in this context um i kept going back to the
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port itself as part of the genesis of the city of beirut but also as part of the genesis of the narrative of the city and the country as it's connected to ideas of the crossroads the anthropo and in particular the lord of the port as a as a gateway so the port has been um historically a lifeline to the national economy or at least to its tertiary sector or at least to the interest of the uh the rise and the interest of the commercial and financial
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bourgeoisie it started as a concession within the ottoman imperial government that capitalized beirut and established the growth of a new real estate market so one when looking at the violence of the port of beirut there's the immediate violence and the trauma of the explosion as the video that we opened up our meeting so genuinely attests to but i think the violence and the trauma of the port is not only about this immediate explosion
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but it's also about a longer history of violence that the organization of the port and the interests and values that it stands for um have put the city and the country into so if we're thinking of a port we're of course thinking of that point of contact between the sea and the land and with that a shift in transport modality so the establishment of the port of beirut was also the establishment of the beirut damascus road and one has to think of that historic relationship to baruch when one is thinking now of the distance
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between beirut to the nearby capital city being its nearest ports the port is also a major economic multiplier for prosperity and debt for for the country so um in which the port operators the city and the national government do not necessarily share the same economic goal the income is related to a flow of dutiable import and the state is heavily reliant on the income from the port of beirut so one can
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clearly imagine that tension between an income that relies on import and between the possibility of the poor to play its import export relations with its possible relations not only to the tertiary sector but how we begin to think of the port as part of a plan in which other sectors of the economy are are also part of that vision so how do we think of that what other programs could be part of that vision of a future that not only recovers a
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pre-august fourth or a pre-war order all of which are implicated in this project of the port gateway vision one has to say as well that the port and the storage the criminal storage and explosion of the nitrate and the city is not the first instance in which stories of merchants of doubt and toxic attacks against the people of lebanon have been perpetuated those who remember the many
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stories of ships that landed with various european toxic waste discharged and managed by the same landlords in their own territories at the moment when the when the when the country was cantonized so that there's a longer history to the toxicity of the port that extends beyond the immediate presence so how do we think of the economic injury and ways of thinking of alternative models of economic development and reconstructions tariffs and taxations and privileges
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for later generation ports maybe that think of forms of industrial activities and logistics centers in their organization so what could be these other forms of port city state interfaces that could allow us to think of beirut and its role in the region now granted the narrative of the 19th century is no longer the context of the 21st century and specifically when we think of geopolitical context we think of how necessary how it's important for these posts to adapt
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uh to changing trade patterns the demands of shipping line uh competition from other ports of and cargo so the establishment of beirut as the gateway uh for the middle east arabian hinterland has since been shadows by the establishments of mega ports in the persian gulf and by other competition existing or forthcoming in the northeastern mediterranean forts so the imperative to think of reconfiguration of the economic vision of the port of
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beirut and its urban vision is also tied to the imperative of thinking of beirut at this expanded scale and i'm hoping i'm counting on this three into anchor in in real professional term what it would mean to be able to think of such a utility in its various roles so but now andres well thank you very much for inviting me this is a very uh needed uh discussion and i'm i'm really honored to be invited to it even though my knowledge of beirut
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and lebanon at large is very very reduced uh but i would like to talk about the the port uh following hiva and the the collective for beirut's invitation uh because i've been working in the last years on a number of ports that were really of facing in a very direct way uh the the effects and also becoming actors in the making of murdering and crime inequality uh consumerism vulnerability exploitation
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uh militarization and i think that this is something that converts or kind of turns uh ports in something that is fundamental a fundamental state or kind of space inside for for political action at the same time a fundamental space to rethink architectural practices the coastal line and ports in particular are both actors but are also the result of the way forms of exploitation of human towards fellow humans and humans to other than humans have been developed
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through colonial industrialization uh and this is something that i think is very important in the context of gsap that has historically engaged with exploring architecture as an ecosystem of practices where the local is highly enacted as territorial and in my personal interest as well to see architecture as something that operates across chaos and is by that way of operating uh how i believe that a big part of its political agency unfolds uh if we think of the basically
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2700 tons of ammonium nitrate that were housed at the woodport and that detonated starting all these huge uh emergence emergency it's not an accident that is what it was ammonium nitrate and ammonium nitrate that was extracted from to faster in chile a site of huge violence it's been actually historical it's it was one of the first places bolivia peru chile that was exploited under both british
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spanish french german rule colonial rule and actually it was this nitrate that was used both as a fertilizer historically but also as the power for wars uh that saved the history of the whole entire region and across the world uh the it was usually in the war of independence in chile the war with uh bolivia and peru and uh it was again uh uh fueling uh wars across the world but when we
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think now of fertilizers and the way fertilizers have been mobilizing the both the the earthy resources of uh domain and violently domain countries across the world through colonial exploitation it also tells us the story of not only colonization but exploitation over exploitation of other than human uh beings that were turned into resources and that violence was really not coming without
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a huge investment in militarization in power in the development of weapons and that is the violence that was also uh released to the explosion uh in the port of beirut uh it's it's the the the architecture has been part of this in both sides all the time and in many other in all the kind of range of size uh in 1971 salvador the allende a big part of the mining resources
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uh that were still exploited at that point by international corporations that were replicating the and kind of prolonging the entire process of colonization and that two years later that was the origin of the uh coup d'etat that also uh resulted in the death of agenda the the violence now is challenging the exploitation of the of the sea in many different ways and this deep-sea mining the exploitation of the biodiversity of the world by laboratories
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is is also fueled by forms of militarization and colonial power and when we think of the way fertilizers are also being imposed on the exploitation of the land and we think for instance of the actual uh lebanon uh agricultural exploitation for instance in the the becca valley where the the massive use of fertilizers uh and centralized production of agriculture is also behind the the toxicity that the entire region is suffering in the uh in the in the aquifers and also
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contributing to the entire mediterranean uh uh effects of nitrates uh that it's really reducing is very radically reducing the uh biodiversity of the of the mediterranean sea but again this is an arena in which architecture is also provided alternatives and it's been part of community uh initiatives networks of association experience experiences uh the development of new technologies in which basically agriculture can
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happen also in different ways at the same time that new forms of collective security with regards to water and the management of toxicity the collective management with toxicity and the consistency coexist with toxicity it's been explored and uh and understood as something that could be politically uh dealt with uh under frame of justice uh the the when we think of the coastal line and the harbors and the uh in lebanon the reality of lebanon in the
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last decades and include all including also tripoli uh the the huge uh effects of migrations that were like non like forced migration of humans uh caused by war uh by inequality by environmental violence uh by climate christ like adrian would would could call them or has called him and provided evidences of uh it's a reality that we have to acknowledge that also has been uh controlled produced and as well as
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reflected and registered by harbors like the baywood uh port and and that reality is turned in the last decades the mediterranean into a weapon to kill people uh as uh forensic oceanography has proved and we're facing that so when we're discussing the harbor it's inevitable to think of the way of the of the news of the last three weeks of families uh being seen their kids dying in the ocean in the sea in the mediterranean sea and
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this is a reality that is again architecturally we see how architects young architects are leading the development of new forms of transforming the mediterranean and that those are the projects that i believe we have to take into account when we discuss the the port of of beirut so for me in a way what we're facing here is something that moves from the scale of local very local realities to the way those local realities are are constructed and enacted through uh transcolor design
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and neglect men and it's a very political question which is really uh that the one that we're facing is how do we move from a culture of exploitation of humans to fellow humans and humans to other than humans to one of mutual terror and mutual uh solidarity thank you andreas great thank you so much hiba for organizing this thank you gsab thank you laila for all the uh logistical help um okay so this is a very tough act to follow this
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lineup of three really brilliant interventions so thank you to my fellow panelists as well i'm an economist so what i'll try to do is actually provide some measurements and and i think that that will uh it's it's very tentative right these are very very difficult things to measure and everything is quite recent so and the scene keeps changing but hopefully this will maybe uh ground the thinking about what's what other
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role can we imagine for the port or what other model can the port fit into it'll ground that thinking in at least identifying the sizes of the interests around the current structure and where the port fits into that it also tackles one specific aspect of the description of the panel um that that was read at the beginning which is that yes the port is a lifeline to the city and obviously the economy of the country but in recent years it's also become
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somewhat disconnected and i try to maybe ground that in some of the sizes of economic flows that might provide an explanation to why that is so to ground this give us a little bit of background and i know a lot of people are quite aware of this but this the numbers are staggering this is a very recent snapshot of some economic metrics of the health of the economy in general at least the intensity of economic activity
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only from last year and this year and it's frightening right so on every measure that you choose things are deplorably worse right poverty in only the span of a year has doubled uh extreme poverty tripled uh unemployment almost four-fold so we are operating in an environment that is very crippled economically so even as we try to imagine
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alternative futures for the for the port and for its relationship to the city at least in the short to medium term we have to be we have to heed uh the the kind of collapse that the overall economy of the country is currently experiencing and this to also say that 2019 we were already in recession so the collapse starts before but the free fall really is accelerated in the last year in particular i put in here imports and
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exports to try to one show the incredible reliance of import really unhealthy reliance on import of the size of the economic flow of the country so somewhere close to 40 percent of all the value that goes through the country in 2019 was imports 40 that's this is down this is part of what it means to collapse is we can't afford the imports anymore exports relatively modest now if we think of trade in general export and
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import in value as a share of the size of our economic activity which is this what this real gdp is supposed to be uh proxying do we come out as a country that is very dynamic in trade no we're quite average it's not we don't stick out in any way if you add import and export and scale that to real gdp we're really non-distinct now where's the port in all of this well obviously um this is uh these are mostly happening
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through the port in fact about 70 of this trade is happening through the port and so if we want to get a sense of what size of the what share of the economic activity is going through the port overall of the overall economic activity it's about 20 and this is after the collapse this is in 2020. so it's a conduit for 20 of the value that gets exchanged in this economy and that's huge and so the interests around that are going to be quite
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massive there's another way of looking at this which actually brings the explosion into the picture before i turn to that note that these projections for 2020 most of them were calculated based on trends up to july so the picture is going to look even more dire moving forward there's been in the explosion we're in the midst of a second surge of covid and on the eve of uh an upcoming lockdown so things are actually going to be even worse than than this already pretty grim picture but so the port of
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explo the port of beirut explosion happens in august and again to try to scale what it means in terms of importance in monetary value this large establishment which is the port is about 7.4 percent of the estimated damages physical damages of the overall explosion so it's a relatively minimal share of physical damage that actually happened at the site of the port compared to the overall damage
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around it to all of the physical losses but if we think of the associated losses in economic flows that are attributed to the explosion that's about 3.2 billion in fact with the latest estimates of real gdp that's about 10 percent of gdp close to 10 of gdp for this year uh which is for or maybe close to eight percent of gdp for this year uh just because of the explosion that's that's terrifying but how much of that lost activity was gonna happen through the port
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645 million that's about 20 again so anyway you look at it it's a huge lifeline now why has it receded why or why is it disconnected from our lives uh not most of us are not traders right most of us are not in uh most many of the at least the panelists i know and then i also suspect some of the attendees we're not part of the um segment of society that actually deals
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with this and it's no surprise because it turns out if you look at our markets and we haven't done a market study of concentration of businesses in a really long time and we're long overdue for one but the most recent one which is from about 17 years ago and so things have only gotten more concentrated since then the most recent one from 17 years ago tells us that something like 36 of local markets and they go through about almost 300 markets so 300 uh markets for
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goods right so in about 36 percent of them the biggest firm controls more than half the market so we have extremely concentrated markets of traders so these numbers are very much in the hands of very very few um with exclusive agencies with import licenses with overwhelming control of the the market that they operate in but typically
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they operate in more than one market more than one good and that's part of why we don't actually experience the port as 20 of everything that all the economic activity that actually happens in in our daily lives um so yeah with that i think i've hit my three minutes and i will i guess open it up for a discussion thank you everyone for um amazing food for thought we we're gonna have a few minutes only to discuss for this question before we move to question two um so um we can ha we can have like
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three four minutes five minutes please for the uh for uh for the audience feel free to put your questions in the question and we'll try to integrate them as we go and hopefully we if the remaining questions we we will have more time to discuss them at the end as we talked about before um so feel free whoever in the past want to ask questions or pull push this conversation forward feel free to do that before we move to question so for example there's a question for you marwan about can we can you please from one of the audience can you please
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give some examples of how residents can have a hand in the reconstruction some some small scale planning of the damaged part of the city um so this is one question if you can take it and then i'll go through the other ones okay the short answer is no but i will try to expand a little bit on this uh the there's many more people on the ground that are much more aware of the conditions i'm not in beirut and i cannot claim that i can speak for the conditions there but i can think of two things
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one is at the risk of sounding neoliberal a long-term work for our collective as designers and planners to actually deregulate the urban regulation actually to make them out of commission in a way it sounds too extreme but i i think they've never served the city and its population so really releasing that thing and to move into a a more civil right environment the other is basically i see
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that the role of planners and designers can be really fractured like think of to think of ourselves as citizens rather than the professionals and actually connect to the issues we care about and we connect to the group of people that we want to deal with advocate for and provide you know channels for funding to support certain initiatives create studies that are relevant to
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certain groups or certain people and i don't see necessarily that our efforts need to be defined in one way as much as really connecting to the issue and to what's happening on the ground and affiliate ourselves and use our skills to actually support and push issues that we connect with among with the residents that's would be my best reaction to this there's a group of questions actually i
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will put them together as a question about whether there is a necessity to have to keep the where is it important to keep the the port in beirut or whether to move it somewhere else or whether tripoli should take part of the uh load that beirut has been taking uh i mean there are like four questions related to that and um so maybe um maybe randy anderson can talk a little bit about that i think there are questions that nesting was answering about the poverty rate etc alive you can probably mention them in case other people are curious about that too these are fantastic questions of how do we imagine
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the future of the port and i think nasrin began to point uh two possibilities in terms of diversification of of the economic role of the port in that respect and thinking of possible complementary activities uh and where would these pockets be in its current location another possibility is to imagine uh in a country where national planning is still a possibility and probably dean sarkis might have more to say on that later how do we think of the location of the
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port as part of the major questions now when we think of that we think of the recent history of the lebanese civil war and the fantastic history of the 33 ports that emerged during then so where would you where would you move the port to uh is is an interesting rabbit hole and i think it's worth entertaining the question not least because it helps us point to some of the challenges of any deliberation process currently in lebanon
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so where would it move to would you move um all of its role would you hold on to petroleum and grain exports because they're currently you know centralized into a few ports cars as well because there's certain restrictions on customs do you dissociate its cargo from its uh kind of cruise ship industry and then what kind of visions of an economic development of the city would you hit if you know if you start to dissociate
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those on the other hand how do you kind of with clear conscience advocate for a reconstruction of a port with similar storage protocols when you know that such a proximity to the city center is is a ticking bomb so um it's a it's a great question and uh i think you know it requires some some careful considerations of how we can begin to think about about those kinds of futures thanks ranjan
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so um this also maybe i mean so maybe this ties it to some of the other questions that i that i've read in the q a box is um given the current uh power structure one one of the things that is under consideration in the rehabilitation or the development of new infrastructure around ports is also the potential future oil and gas
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exploration uh that is you know looming uh and so that that is another massive infrastructure gamble uh that we are embarking on uh as well as we decide uh where to to fit um [Music] a port with refinery or with re-export for for oil and gas um part part of part of the other considerations also is
46:58
uh is more balanced investment and development in general with some attention going to tripoli more recently partly because of the staggering poverty rates so i know that there is interest at least from multilateral organizations the world bank various arms of the un in devoting more time and attention to tripoli whether that also involves rehabilitating the tripoli or upgrading the triple eeee port i've not heard but um but there's certainly more
47:30
um headlines around tripoli these days yeah one very brief thing because like one of the very the most difficult situations uh that that not only beirut but i think the planet is facing is that the sense of urgency uh tends to push to basically don't question the frame of uh advanced capitalism in which we operate and that's something that is a huge difficulty because basically at the same time that there's a need for very urgent
48:03
uh and rapid response to very dramatic situations uh that can only be challenged though that that sense of vulnerability if we transform the frame in which we operate and that's something that takes much longer so how do we operate rapidly addressing issues that are uh dramatic and require a sense of nowness at the same time that sense of noun is identified as something that requires for us to change the the kind of contract social contract that we're part
48:34
of for me this is this is a radical difficulty that we face because it push for us to be in responding emergencies perpetuating a system that is really the cause of those emergencies and that requires intellectual cultural political articulation the the discussion of harvest tend to be constructed in terms of uh inter kind of inter harbor uh competition in terms of how much how they attract uh investment how how much trading and circulation can they attract how do
49:05
we change that into something that could be more of a trans-regional alliance that would provide a battering of the entire region uh in the terms that basically are the cause of this emergency that we're discussing thank you everyone um hopefully as i said before there's so many questions out in the chat and we are also very curious about more about the port as we said this hopefully is just the foundation uh for future conversations so given that we're gonna move to question two thank you for the
49:35
panelists for question one number one and i please take this thank you everyone great um thank you so my name is aya abdullah and i'm a mark student a current mark student here at gsap and the second question is in recent years digital media including alternative news reporting counter mapping digital humanities has played a pivotal role in uprisings and mass movements in lebanon and globally what new forms could digital media and soft infrastructures
50:06
take in shaping alternative socioeconomic and political spheres outside the existing systems in lebanon while taking into consideration the limited physical infrastructure available and how can we start thinking about soft infrastructure provisions in terms of funding educational setups and perhaps global networks of support so first i would like to ask this question to habib haddad laura kurgan ahmed and jean-aside but then we can open it to the rest of the panelists for a discussion thank you i am
50:39
so you know in the past year um as lebron has been going through all the stress tests um something occurred to me i realized something an amazing social phenomenon is happening in lebanon and that's what i call the on-demand formation of communities or you've been having communities who come together form and then dissociate every time there's a stressor that's happening so we've seen we see that happening obviously online through the social media tools and i see that with my own friends and there's there's friends that i call my activist friends or my
51:10
fighting against something friends that i only get to talk to every time something happens and i gotta be thinking um you know we these are it's almost feels like in your immunity system kicking in when you get when you get sick but it got me thinking also about communities i've been thinking about communities for a long time and the way i think about about building communities is in three buckets communities of purpose of action and of interest and purpose in this case is clear people come together to fight against something against corruption against
51:41
uh economical you know collapse but um but it's very hard to move that against something to force something and the other two parts actually help you help you move there so the second part i think of it is committees of interest and this is also where online tools and kind of you know to date base technology can help um so when you think of these communities of interest we think of education but we also think of leveraging the diaspora potentially for mentorship or fair matching and honestly we also think of creating role models locally
52:13
when we look at the today i would say one of the main culprits in lebanon's demise or current kind of you know demise is the the tv stations um i think when you look at the soap operas how mind-numbing they are and the talk shows how polarizing they are but we don't see anyone we don't see people talking about some of their local you know role models they're the great success stories that are coming out from lebanon maybe staying in lebanon maybe maybe moving out of lebanon so i think that that's really important to think about creating these role models activating nodes uh inspiring others to follow suit
52:44
and um the other thing is when we think about comes off of purp of of action this is where we start thinking about um infrastructure more hard infrastructure so the community of action is when we bring these people together in a place and we start creating concern look at this connection where we can actually come up with creative ideas and solutions and maybe create kind of industries uh so this is today you've seen spaces in in beirut actually like beirut district which is actually a pretty amazing space um near in bashura that has integrated within the community but allowed also a group of um
53:15
young entrepreneurs and tech entrepreneurs to come and and flourish uh you've seen stuff happening obviously also on campuses specifically at aeb um and and and you know the the community of action is somehow the easiest but the toughest it's the easiest because it's known what we need to do to actually activate a community and create a great economy but it's also hard because to get there it actually takes a lot of effort it takes to change the culture to change behavior and also on the on the communist action part
53:46
uh the other thing to think about is how to basically create a path to scale so it's great that we're able to bring these committees online and start thinking about solutions that that they can solve whether it's they're social entrepreneurs whether they're for-profit entrepreneurs whether they're artists but how can we can help scale their impact and that that comes in through again known mechanisms whether it's investing or through market policies etc now um the optimist in me always wants to find positive news in anything and today as depressing as the
54:18
situation is in lebanon i think there is definitely a moment today an opportunity where we can look at these moments that are created through uh communities of purpose of being against something and try to move to transform them into movements long-lasting movements and you know it actually does work i have been i've seen it i've been part of it um i saw it work uh for maybe about four or five years from 2011 to 2016 where we saw kind of a really abundance of energy and creativity and we've seen
54:49
even some interesting investment mechanisms whether it's from international uh uh folks like the world bank and and ebrd and eib's or even locally like the 331 circular that came from from the central bank at some point um and but but you know obviously many of those uh are not anymore um not surviving but i think there's definitely a quite opportune time to move it i think the main thing is that uh unfortunately we're seeing a hemorrhaging of talent and it's whether we want to
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embrace that and help this talent succeed elsewhere with a anticipation that we're going to have a revolving door as things stabilize or whether we're going to work to stop that hemorrhaging um hi everyone and um happy that i i'm really happy to follow on uh to what you're saying because i have some similar um similar ideas but not necessarily based in beirut so first of all i you know i just want to say i left beirut on the very day that the economic
55:59
protest started in october and i think it's the last international flight i was on prior to the pandemic i think i did some travel within the united states after that but so beirut i miss beirut and um and also um within that meeting and uh mona um fawaz was the one um who invited me and it was also through hibba's um ford fundraising foundation grant i
56:30
met um an incredible group of um of activist mappers and the reason i was there was because there was actually not even um a three-dimensional model of beirut which is so common in the united states and the way that we have access to open data just doesn't exist in beirut and that was part of our collaboration so i don't know where that project is right now but maybe
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mona can talk to it later um but just to follow on what habib was saying you know i've been writing um a lot lately about the structure and design of networks and the echo chambers and polarizations they built they build because of the ways in which they are designed um you know so because um our social media is designed so that advertise advertising can be directly
57:33
directed to me because of that all kinds of other political agents can also direct messages to me and that's how all the filter bubbles exist that all of us have so much difficulty of getting out of following that so that was an article about an algorithm called homophily and then after that i've just finished something and both of these are on eflex if you want to look is is more about weak ties and although
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that algorithm was also based in a history of segregation the ways in which you can activate ties across difference is something that we could reinforce as a way to redesign our networks in other ways and so i know that that sounds very abstract so maybe i'll just bring it to the ground by uh telling you about a seminar that i'm teaching right now on public interest technology which aya is in and i hope she will
58:35
agree that we're making some real headway um over there and our students are being asked you know public interest technology is usually defined as technology in the public interest well that doesn't help very much and what we've been trying to get our students to ask is which publics are included and excluded by technology and so most importantly we're asking sort of how to design and build and control and govern
59:05
with new communication systems and this is actually a quite utopian thing that we're asking our students to do with various levels of success that telling them you know technology should be built to fit communities or should be built to adapt to communities rather than the networks in which we're um we're operating within today and so within that and there's a lot of projects but i'll just foreground one of them because it's through an organization
59:37
that's that's started by another one of gsapp's columbia called community tech nyc and so some of our students are working with them to design um uh public interest technology in appalachia um in in tennessee and in in the united states and what they're doing is building a very low-tech hardware and software um and almost you know sort of creating um a curated internet
01:00:08
that is specific to the local community and once you edit out you know the whole of the internet and um address something to specific communities you can actually allow them to to establish peer-to-peer networks where they can communicate as habib is saying in on-demand on-demand communities and then once you do that you can actually foster a way of learning both hardware and software and teaching people how to create their own networks and then
01:00:39
perhaps slowly build up towards a larger version of the internet so anyway i think that's my intervention i do think that in these contexts um you know of extreme emergencies and of you know so much disinformation we really need to take back our networks and try um to to to rebuild them um in different ways while acknowledging the the the deep history you know at the
01:01:10
same time i find out about what i found out about what happened in beirut on facebook and i hate facebook but that is where all my friends who are gathered on the screen i'm i connect with them on either facebook or twitter so i often find out about things through those networks rather than through you know the new york times which nowadays is only only only about the you know um the elections i just found out today from one of my students in lima peru
01:01:42
that the uh president there has just been impeached and there's huge violence on the on the streets of lima i would i did not find that out from you know my my news networks so thank you laura okay thank you uh thank you and uh thank you lila thank you gsat for first holding this really important and enlightening conversation and for inviting me to be a part of it um i wanted to say a couple of things
01:02:16
that are building upon habibs and laura's points in terms of communities and networks and kind of reflect on two of my experiences uh working after disaster one was in 2005 earthquake in kashmir in pakistan that displaced at least a couple of hundred thousand people um and and um i if i remember correctly had something like 80 90 000 fatalities and part of our mobilization that
01:02:47
happened as a result of that earthquake taught a lot to me at least as a graduate student on what some some good things in the sense of lo-fi infrastructure creating communities that are gathered around as people saying an emergency response mutual aid networks that allowed for new types of solidarities to emerge and also thinking about domestic and regional contacts in a new way outside
01:03:18
of the kind of political formations or you know the ways in which affiliations really really work much of that work was done through listservs and through phones this is again 2005. um the the the i'll i'll come back to the bad points later bad lessons later um and then further in in 2017 uh in the aftermath of hurricane maria we did a work here at columbia uh for puerto rico
01:03:49
um thinking about mapping uh did a mapathon and and again creating some of these mutual networks this time through whatsapp uh et cetera and again we did a lot of thinking about what lo-fi networks look like how to do multi-modal and multi-nodal types of connections um and as our collective was interested in archiving how do we kind of have a repository of knowledge that we can uh turn back to uh laura mentioned
01:04:22
three-dimensional mapping but you know we can think of all kinds of things including uh food repositories including um first first care health uh repositories so how do we kind of conceptualize these types of aid through mutual aid networks but how do we archive that knowledge so uh people continue to rely on its its abundance um some of these uh ways in which we can think of creating these uh mutual aid networks um in in
01:04:53
during the covet um era have been utilized by my colleagues both in south asia um in india specifically um as the the uh how do i say force migration as a result of lockdown happened that uh forced uh the dispossessed and the working poor to to actually leave their environments their work environments and in northern india and delhi and and travel by foot thousands of miles
01:05:25
and so how to kind of think about these kinds of efforts these kinds of emergencies through uh lo-fi or through um a distributed channel of of of activity um there are clear ways forward in those um and there are many many many of my colleagues in these this conversation today who are much much better experts at this but i wanted to actually highlight some of the things that i learned in my experiences that are are negative and and i want to start
01:05:57
with uh what happened at the end of uh aftermath of the 2005 earthquake in our efforts to rebuild communities efforts literally rebuild houses and think about architecture especially non-urban architecture and then in a new way through sustainable techniques uh going back in fact going back thousands of years in in childistan and entire and sin um and what do we what i learned was that the attention the international aid and the ngo
01:06:28
attention dwindles um as soon as the news cycle dwindles and in its aftermath uh what we saw in the late 2000s in in pakistan was the rise of what we now call in retrospect the land mafias and the land mafias basically were able to repurpose much of the work that we had done or had hoped to do and created a very very extensive land holdings through from which there was force
01:06:59
migration and displacement of the farmers and the villagers these are already displaced people who had been put in precarious financial and obviously precarious to their life situations so the the the hyper displacement and this possession that followed in 2007-89 um prompts us to kind of think about how in the in the wake of disasters as we do emergency relief
01:07:30
how do we think about the populations that are dispossessed to begin with that are under the radar to begin with everything from informal economies infrastructures of support that a middle class or upper middle class or an industry that requires cheap expendable labor relies upon and as we think about disasters how do we enco encourage ourselves to rethink the the the target populations those who
01:08:03
demand relief at the utmost not just in the moments after but long term and i think it goes back to i think it was marwan in the first panel kind of thinking about maybe civic rights that need to be reimagined in the wake of the disaster but i would actually maybe extend that and say the idea of the civic itself must be reimagined we need to reimagine who gets to be constituted in the category of civic whether they are and again speaking from the perspective
01:08:34
of pakistan a lot of the conversation ended up being where the the people who uh make their livelihood from farming or from uh um you know animal husbandry were not considered to be part of the civic um they were dispossessed as well as easily displaced and they don't have political recognition and the political landscape is in fact grounded upon um in erasing uh their subjectivities
01:09:05
so how do we as activists as academics and architects as historians as digital uh infrastructure folks how do we kind of think about these particular individuals and there are i can assure you just as many in beruth as there were in in pakistan and how do we build a new mutual aid networks that do not do the same type of inequity that have been part of the pre-disaster pre-earthquake pre-blast i'll stop there thank you so much
01:09:37
beautiful man thank you jean thank you thanks for having me and thanks for organizing this very timely discussion uh i'm gonna focus more on the case study which is basically megaphone which is the media platform i'm i'm running with a bunch of comrades and friends uh but first i'd like to talk about the question of infrastructure in a rather explicit way so i mean today a hundred days after uh the explosion and the year after the revolution uh there is a paradox that i'm just gonna say the obvious
01:10:07
which is this use mismatch between the fact that we have one at the level of idea and framing basically the political situation and framing the fact that we are facing a regime and that this regime needs to be toppled and cannot be reformed and basically putting together the different elements the economic the clientele is the political in depicting uh basically that regime and we have failed miserably in holding it accountable in making major political wins and i mean something that has come again uh every time we were discussing this is
01:10:38
the lack of political infrastructure prior to the big opportunity that was october 17 which is the absence of political party the absence of syndicates that were basically would have been able potentially to materialize uh people's interests into proper roadmaps and and mobilize people so what you also realize is that it's extremely hard to build those infrastructure in crisis mode so those infrastructure a few of them megaphone being one of them existed prior to that prior to the uprising
01:11:08
prior to that opportunity and i believe that i mean at the media level megaphone in addition to other platforms have contributed somehow to bridge that asymmetry that we have with uh with with the regime in place so three years ago when we started uh i mean traditional media was still overwhelmingly dominating the narrative dominating who gets represented who gets a voice in the public conversation uh a big chunk of the population was also alienated from the public conversation the youth particularly
01:11:38
and that was due both to the fact that these traditional media in terms of their approach in terms of their interest but also in terms of how they dealt with the emerging and new technologies was obsolete by all means so we saw it as an opportunity as political activists none of us was journalists by training or uh even by practice uh and we thought that there was a window basically uh to change hats and to start developing that media platform uh it started as a
01:12:09
facebook page and like everybody else in the region a phenomenon that started in 2011 we decided to subvert those tools uh and to basically transform them into political platform and eventually professionalize that that transformation to have a full-fledged media that can exist on those platforms so a megaphone managed three years later to basically provide a key role and pivotal role also in in this uprising in documenting in the constructing official narratives and informing
01:12:40
and breaking down information but in also providing platform for marginalized groups uh migrant workers lgbt community refugees and so on to have a place in this conversation uh and i'd like to talk a bit about how this came into being because i mean one of the main reasons why those political mediatic cynical infrastructure didn't exist was a matter of resources and also a matter of i mean means so when we started as i said there wasn't expertise necessarily and also we didn't go about it in a very
01:13:11
didactic way so we were driven by impact so we thought about it more as a political project using the tools and also the ethics of journalism and also we thought about it as a sort of an open lab in a sense that we threw those videos on facebook and they picked up and then refined them but everybody who was joining this project uh from the designers to uh people who are have uh sort of knowledge and user experience and media were bringing their their own additions uh
01:13:42
even business-wise it wasn't a project that made any sense it was a project that was volunteer run and based to a large extent uh and basically with time was able to just get professionalized and to uh yeah i'm asked to wrap up sorry i took too long uh just to add basically in terms of sustainability of that model more and more uh megaphone is trying to uh sort of uh bridge uh the the gap between us as a media entity and the different knowledge producing entities
01:14:14
so a lot of people who are actually on this panel are some of our partners in terms of producing and mainstreamizing some of the work that they've been doing through videos and through those different tools also in terms of sustainability in terms of funding we're much more going into a community uh led a community-funded form of journalism uh and trying to withdraw progressively from just the media development uh this year that wouldn't allow us to be sustainable for for a very long time sorry if i took too long
01:14:45
that's all right thank you john thank you for a megaphone too uh um so we have several questions in the chat as you can imagine with managing such a big event we need to be be careful with the time so i'm just going to put the group the questions into two main concerns first how to think about the infrastructure the soft infrastructure that's needed in a country like lebanon where like with the socio-economic and political situation but also um how um how can we cultivate uh this
01:15:17
soft infrastructure so that it speaks to the multiplicity of communities in beirut without perpetuating exclusionary barriers such as criticism patriotism and capitalism i guess sectionism too so this is a general question the other the other group of questions is related to the gentrification that something like the beirut design bdd has generated so um so while thinking about soft after section and supporting i.t how can we think about for example something like um the implication for gentrification that this is causing um um to the surrounding neighborhoods and in
01:15:48
this case it is a question for habibi thank you you want to go first you can go first yes yes so i actually just answered the question on bdd um just from from what i know is that they've been actually quite conscious about hiring the local community into their own staff and have been investing in education and in schools around them so i think i'm not sure i don't know i don't have other competitors i'll leave that to the architects in the group to talk more about it but from what i've seen from a community perspective i've i've seen them integrate quite well to the question on government
01:16:26
in fact um that's a great question but in fact you don't want government engagement in creating communities in fact government engagement is what messes up communities and you've seen that happen in some parts of the gulf where they want to you've seen like big headlines creating the new city of economic development for the next 100 startups or creating the blah blah blah whatever and more often than not these end up becoming empty shells or real estate projects that don't really see active communities communities bubble up uh think of it as the suit the traditional souk that uh emerges
01:16:56
in a city like beirut or damascus or think of like an empty mall that this built up down with a really ugly you know just kind of hallways and walking that's kind of the energy i would think about about that now government is important to create infrastructures like internet or to allow the smooth policies but honestly i've had a company with 40 people in beirut and i can say this on the record now because i'm not there anymore but we didn't even have the man i mean i'm not saying this is a good thing i'm saying that the rules are there but also you don't have to follow the rules when i mean i didn't okay i have to i
01:17:28
have to give so not not for you can't create your own rules basically right so meaning you you don't need to get bogged down by government bureaucracy and more often than not uh in lebanon you can do that and i don't uh uh vouch for doing that on a demand level but you can do that instead of operate the one thing i'd like to leave you with and i'd like to commend your research on that question is the monopoly game monopoly when the first it was invented on the question of capitalism uh was had a rules such that it was actually i think
01:17:59
was more of a rentier kind of uh rules and you want and over time it actually evolved to become a capitalistic game and what you saw in this game in this particular sectors actually didn't have to change much of the systems there you had to change the goal of the outcome the rule and then when you did that the whole culture of monopoly changed a lot so it's not really just about changing the rules and the goals you're going to go after which can actually change a lot in terms of whether you're capitalistic or or on the other side as well okay thank you habib so we're gonna move in the interest of time to question
01:18:30
three please from now on actually all the questions and answer will we'll discuss at the end so please let's move to question three uh thank you for a panelists for question two uh amazing discussion um yes please the collective take the floor thank you all my name is charles hajj i'm a gsap alumni and i'll be asking a third question so the explosion damaged over 250 000 residential units the blast has highlighted the long-standing housing crisis and social spatial inequalities of the city that has been for long dominated by
01:19:01
a financialization strategy of housing that is profit-oriented developer and banker bank bank centered a context where affordable forms of housing are close to non-existent while rental options for housing that are the most affordable forms are being dismantled this housing problematic also intersects with the trans international annualization of all aspects of the built environment in a city deemed a republic of ngos this situation has ignited a critical debate on how these non-governmental actors
01:19:31
will shape the public interest and promote resident centered participation in housing recovery given this how can we rethink housing and land policies building and zoning laws housing production as well as rental markets while simultaneously thinking about the social fabric socioeconomic crisis and ecological urgencies that loom over the city kareem namur and the mediden will take the lead and then we'll move on to the next question we'll start with abby uh thank you everybody and hello
01:20:09
um i will just first start by putting some of the state policies towards housing in historical context and to understand them historically we can we can understand them along three stages um the first was exemplified by sporadic laws to rent control and housing interventions in response to disasters this was mainly uh the pre-1960s period from the early 60s to the 90s we witnessed a marginal housing policy hinting at
01:20:42
hinting a little bit at the right to housing and the establishment of some housing institutions but it also missed on any comprehensive and integrated vision to achieve the right to decent housing uh for all constituents of society and which this brings us to the last 20 years where the little fair housing legislations that were in place were abolished or made ineffective and the new housing policy was an essential part of a system based on serving the interests of
01:21:12
capital a policy based on home ownership through loans sponsored by the central bank in service of its monetary policy it primarily benefited banks and investors under the pretext of the sanctity of private property and at the expense of city dwellers so as a result residents today are in a constant crisis suffering from inadequate and undignified housing conditions no one actually records this slow violence and households across all factions of
01:21:45
society are left alone to face such housing violations as such public works housing monitor has been monitoring evictions reading them as a city-wide condition and responding to them as an example from september from the beginning of september to mid-october we tracked 58 cases of threatened evictions affecting almost 200 people in beirut the largest numbers of of these threats was in karantina a marginal neighborhood heavily damaged
01:22:17
by the blast in short there's there's a need for comprehensive housing demands that put these struggles at the forefront of public debate and that of course try to disrupt the dominant notion that land is at the service of a renter economy equally important for rethinking housing and land policies is to actually rethink the role of city dwellers in this process in the neighborhoods damaged by the blast residents have actually been made absent from discussions around reconstruction
01:22:49
they're also being dealt with individually merely as recipients of aid this has been practiced from all across private and public actors on the ground residents also witnessed the involvement of sectarian parties and the renovation efforts which fed into clientelistic relations at the expense of collective rights so also in public works we're conducting neighborhood meetings with the aim of building a residence association through which
01:23:19
residents can reinstate their voices their collective concerns and their control over their innovation of their homes we firmly believe that it is only through such a framework such a representative and organizational framework that we can start to make housing claims and land claims and actually reverse the the effects of financialization that the neighborhoods had been subjected to thank you abby adrena i'm going to share with you today the experience uh uh moussani the ngo established just
01:23:52
in 1820 so it's a very young ngo that i'm going to share the experience of um on the ground uh post beirut blast so the angelization is a new term that of course has uh come to fruition postmate blast mainly and in the absence almost rejection and in defiance actually of the government not only by the people but also by donors it's non-governmental agencies initiatives and civil society as a whole that has stepped in to fill the many
01:24:24
gaps that have left behind by the incompetent governance so ngos have been almost forced to build capacity migrate private sector and academic experience expertise to contribute to the ongoing process of reconstructing fatigue so intuitively at first at a humanitarian level it was a question of relief so from the day after the blast of course we are all aware of the of the feet on the ground the cleaning of the streets and it was really very intuitive
01:24:53
uh very sporadic uh and very unstructured which got things going quickly so then came the challenge of transforming transforming leaf work to reconstruction work and this is really what which was the fine line and the transition that was not acknowledged that relief work for the first period cannot uh transcend automatically into reconstruction and yes there was little process or thought invested
01:25:24
in this transition to reconstruction so the two phases were simply merged and in the absence of a legal framework despite the many efforts and the parties who were at the beginning involved in trying to regulate uh structure the process it obviously did not it failed and coming through so there's a total absence of a legal framework for reconstruction a total absence of urban planning of strategic thinking
01:25:54
and there's an ongoing sporadic coordination and collaboration on the ground so this disconnect between the reality on the ground and the higher level if you want of participatory approach of structuring of legality is all coming together on the ground and these challenges are counter balanced if you want by the ongoing fantastic energy of the people of civil society and um it's not only the people who are on the
01:26:25
ground in beirut but also the many expats around the world that have come together in the age of the digital um platform who have contributed to this dialogue to this reconstruction effort not only in terms of providing the expertise but also the much needed funds that have channeled primarily through ngos whereby the donors have almost refused to funnel money through more public entities or institutions for the lack of so the ngos have been
01:26:57
put in a position whereby they have to step up to fill that gap and um play the role from everything from uh design consultant to fund or grant manager to an implementing partner on the ground uh so this is like there's this ongoing dichotomy of urgency versus sustainable intervention so we're working under sort of a post beirut context where there is an urgency and every day the urgency grows
01:27:28
to actually intervene and rehabilitate and bring people back to their homes and this duck this urgency is um prohibits if you want the more the the luxury of thinking uh further more strategically where we are still working with a mandate to um to relief human um certain our target for instance is 2050 commercial and residential units
01:28:04
and with that we have a turnover of 50 units weekly so to date we've completed 700 units 900 are under rehabilitation so the pace of work and the scale of operations is gigantic and with um and this happens of course with a team a great team of 25 small to medium-sized contractors of an in-house team of experts of um contractors ranging from experts
01:28:35
in historic um restoration to those more specialized in food and beverage where we've committed to supporting uh rehabilitation of restaurants and madam hail and of the neighborhood glass supplier so our investment and rehabilitation is not an investment only in uh in rebuilding the stone but really and this is where the emphasis should be is that we are reinvesting in a and revitalize revitalizing a socio-economic cycle
01:29:07
which ironically and sadly has been moved by the blast the construction industry is booming in beirut obviously experts from all over lebanon are actually coming into beirut to provide their expertise their volunteer work and it's really a fantastic spirit um so in the meantime as an ngo you're not only building capacity up managing a huge operation on the ground but you're also going digital to aggregate data to visualize it to share it transparently with donors and partners
01:29:37
and continue the ongoing raising of funds for for the different needs um within that context i'll stop i have two two points we're still working with the shelter sector and i know we will continue to work on that the shelter sector is already in dire strait so the policy of bringing back better is a challenge in itself and the funds i just want to talk on that there's a need to diversify donor investment beyond the strict shelter understanding
01:30:08
um and to go to historic preservation smes and to livelihoods thank you thank you rana sorry again i hope this is just the beginning of a future conversation uh karim and enzia thank you uh i'm gonna try to be brief i'm gonna introduce myself because you forgot to introduce me at the beginning of this session uh i'm can you know more i'm a lawyer researcher a board member of the legal agenda and the host of the academy podcast i will yes okay it's okay um
01:30:40
i'm gonna try to be very brief so i'm gonna go through an overview of housing policies in lebanon and then specifically speak about what happened after the blast as an overview we can already say that there's an uh a clear evidence that the state is progressively disappearing when it comes to housing policies uh leaving basically doing a de facto privatization of the sector uh whether by private companies or even privatization by ngo
01:31:12
um but to speak about the background i'm going to mention three patterns that we see when evaluating housing policies in lebanon so basically the first one is a perverted uh concept of what housing policies are because uh abi spoke about this there's this sacralization of the right to property and basically the lebanese government the lebanese authorities view the right uh to property as
01:31:44
the main component of the right to housing and there are two separate things unrelated at all but the secularization of the right to property made it so that most housing policies are property oriented contributing to the financial markets and the objectives are targeted towards encouraging real estate investment uh and complete um disregard to the right to housing this brings us to the second pattern
01:32:14
which is uh if housing policies existed they are thus classes and discriminatory because this is evidenced by three decades of encouraging basically real estate loans because housing is understood as owning property in lebanon not as being a rentee or or having affordable housing or social housing etc so encouraging real estate loans also means lack of affordable housing to people who cannot get
01:32:43
loans and they're also not taken into taking into consideration three main factors so the increase in living conditions in the cost of living in lebanon and not linking this at all to either rents or salaries so basically we there is no referent control uh the the minimum wage is dire compared to the cost of living and they are neither intertwined nor connected and this is very problematic and this is why it
01:33:15
creates a policy that is classes and the discriminatory third pattern before i move to something more specific the fact that the house policies themselves are illegal most of them not i have a lot of regulations and this is evidenced by one the fact that building laws themselves are not being respected for instance when the ministry of interior grants municipalities the right to issue a construction permit against in violation of the building law
01:33:46
they also do not protect urbanism law and the uh um master plans that were established either in regions or the general master plan that was established to lebanon that i would come back to later because it's actually very interesting and so basically the right uh uh to property doesn't uh uh is sacralized to a degree where people seem to believe that they have the right to dispose of their property as they wish this is what i mean when i say that the general
01:34:18
master plan is not respected master plans are not respected uh because there are no limitations as to how you use your property so this is another level of perversion of the right to property doing whatever you want with your property and by and by this violating basically uh urbanism laws and master plan third violation is the constitution itself because the right to property was so much sacralized that basically the right to housing was ignored and the right to social justice were ignored so these are basically the two first
01:34:51
pattern the third one is the complete absence of an ecological approach to housing whether in in terms of the type of land the use of the land the cultural heritage the social fabric and the historical background and we've seen this before the very root blast we've seen it in the mankind region to give a concrete example that was progressively gentrified manohar is a region that is mainly in the in its social fabric made of working-class forces old trans so it was
01:35:21
an area that that was shocked through gentrification either by so it really increased rents there uh and basically created this is like an incarnation of the absence of logical approach this brings me to the response to the bailiffs and basically the main response was that the law the uh the parliament issued a very speedy law that reproduced all of these patterns that is the law for the protection of
01:35:59
areas affected by the blast um i've already spoken about the background of the areas that were affected and what we saw when we read the law recently because it was published at the end of this september is that it basically even though it it withheld uh real estate operations in the area and stipulated for compensation for the inhabitants however it did not forbid construction permits for real estate companies for solidarity for instance for empty
01:36:31
lots for instance uh it did not control eventual buildings that may arise and how they may arise would they be coherent with the media that they are built in or not the exemption in terms of building to those actors basically will also affect the market price of the area and therefore be completely incoherent with the history of the area uh furthermore there was very little
01:37:06
protection for cultural heritage buildings that exist in the area so for instance uh it does not stipulate what uh cultural uh or historical building is so it's basically left to a very short list of buildings that are mentioned and at the minutes at the level of the ministry of culture that would be protected whereas others that may very well have a lot of cultural significance or historical significance would not be protected because they are not on that list uh
01:37:35
furthermore again there was absolutely no mention about trend control so a lot of people who are living there will continue paying grants without any control adding to this factor what nissin mentioned earlier in terms of economic collapse that the country saw what also was mentioned in terms of the pandemic and its effects on either the economy or on living conditions we still haven't seen to this day any law related to rent control this goes to show how the government how the parliament how legislators
01:38:07
view housing in lebanon renting is not viewed as a consequence to the right to housing the right to housing is only viewed as the right to property and the right to dispose of your property the way you want given the many exemptions we've seen and the violations of the law we've seen even on governmental level i will end on this note because i can see that two notes the fact that only the area protected by the 2020 law were the scifi male uh and port areas excluding other
01:38:43
areas where only residents get damages but do not get protected in terms of building and reconstruction shows that this also has a sectarian approach to it because basically the only areas that were protected were mainly uh inhabited by uh christian communities in beirut so this is what pushed us to call this law a form of real estate sectarianism basically and this is my final note so basically what we've seen either with the pandemic or with the beirut blast
01:39:14
is the development of disaster capitalism and the fact that state is being completely absent in it however disaster capitalism doesn't need to be something very bad we can also use it to rethink how we want the spaces either housing or work or public spaces to be reconstructed in a way that would profit public interest rather than private engines i will end it here and leave the rest for this then you get him again yes hi hello everyone thank you for having me and i would like to thank also
01:39:48
my colleagues uh on this panel for contextualizing the question of housing in beirut today um also um it's nice to see everyone and i hope our friends and colleagues in beirut are doing okay considering everything in the few minutes that i have i'll try to lay out three provocations to outline a potential affordable housing strategy that might address issues beyond the immediate humanitarian needs that have been triggered by the explosion
01:40:18
so i'll go straight into it the first provocation i would probably title it new housing typology infrastructure and construction system causes design thinking as the drive to imagine new affordable housing while engaging with larger systems addressing the high need for urban housing increases the city's density architects should leverage this as an opportunity to address failing urban infrastructure asking how an alternative shared and localized infrastructure can potentially imagine new models of collectivity and public
01:40:50
space with the absence of the state as has been noted the design investigation could also imagine multiple potential project stakeholders to support these initiatives by basically exploring housing unit scales and types their mix aggregation flexibility combination and hybridity this financial support must be coupled with a critical understanding of the construction industry in lebanon its material economy and its environmental impact while actively engaging with issues of labor rights whether foreign labor or local
01:41:22
labor the second provocation uh probably titled site construction rewriting the building code calls for exactly that rewriting the rewriting of lebanon's antiquated building code this code has produced buildings that stand with no regard for the city's topography landscape or historic fabric we conceiving the notion of quote-unquote site beyond property lines setback building envelopes and footprints opens the potential to create new laws that are more in sync with beirut's historical
01:41:53
environmental and physical characteristics the third call to action titled form and formal expanding housing architectural history are used for the importance of historical research any honest architectural history constructed around the investigation of regional housing typologies and forms of settlement could move design proposals beyond the persistent unproductive opposition between modernity and tradition allowing us for instance to ask what related potentials exist in beirut's omnipresent generic concrete slab
01:42:24
buildings here the informal physical transformation of this genetic slab building type clearly visible across the city is evidence of both their spatial adaptability and their inhabitants resilience in the face of decades of economic hardship and conflicts thank you i think i'll try to stay within the two minutes let me get into it yeah okay we're gonna move to uh i wrote in the we're gonna move to question five first because some of the panelists need to leave and then we'll go back to question four so he's panels for question five turn your
01:42:55
videos on and the collective thank you yeah alumni this is not the first time lebanon and beirut embark on projects of reconstruction the most recent of which are the reconstructions of project wad after 2006 the reconstruction of downtown beirut after the civil war with the notorious solidarity project having these controversial models of reconstruction in our back mirror how can we think differently about the agency of architecture urban planning and design both
01:43:28
pathologically and in practice and registering trauma assisting collective healing and the development of shared coexistence rooted in that are going to take the lead on this one good afternoon good evening everybody gsat thank you very much for transferring your spirit the spirit of convening and openly discussing hot topics in our field to be root and to virtual space and you always do this with radiant passion and with optimism
01:44:08
it is really this issue of convening really of bringing together the efforts of reconstruction to become more than the sum of their parts that i would like to focus on your efforts our efforts at mit in collaboration with aubrey and alhandasa the efforts of all those involved here today are a few of many many efforts on the ground we all believe in grassroots movements and we all believe in the power of individual initiatives and of the people
01:44:39
but we often forget that one of the recurring and underlying reasons for the failure of grassroots movements all over the world is the inability to add up the inability to coordinate i just want to start by making a statement that there is no such thing as an organic evolution of organic movements into a collective effort if this effort is not willfully coordinated so what you are doing is a step a much needed step
01:45:10
in that direction to this i would like to add a few observations and they are three main ones firstly i hope that this event is the beginning of a coordinated effort to coordinate to collaborate and yes to come up with collective visions and that says i want to insist that they should not exclude the state institutions and the state's infrastructure i do hope that we do not mistake the
01:45:45
failure and corruption of the state with the need for the state with the importance of the idea of a state we should keep that alive in our efforts secondly i would also like to highlight our capability what we do as architects and planners in the process of convening and creating a collective vision now against this capability come two major challenges and these are two tendencies that are ingrained both in lebanon the way we do planning
01:46:16
and in the fields we represent that would seem antithetical to the direction that the grassroots approach is suggesting today firstly we tend to put the physical first and we also tend to work from the big picture down architecture and urban planning have received extensive criticism most of it valid for their primary primarily physical approach to planning and for their top-down approach however i would like to argue that there is
01:46:47
no instrument more powerful than that of the physical of the spatial image in capturing the imagination and inspiring social and political ideas and immobilizing them a very simple example we really do not know fully what the community is until we imagine it in spatial terms secondly there is nothing more powerful than the ability of the architectural image in articulating a collective imaginary no matter how singular it is as an image
01:47:17
we just need to spend time thinking about how to reconcile the collective imaginary with individual imagination so please let us not abandon our strengths as we attempt to correct their negative consequences my last point is related to this issue but bringing it back to beirut in the vein of putting the physical first i would like to highlight two aspects of the post explosion and the opportunities that it opens firstly what is most unique about
01:47:51
lebanon is really is geography and this science we talk about beirut and lebanon interchangeably and we are one of the few countries let's face it in the world that has been able to over its modern history to put together national physical plans one after the other we talk about national physical planning we propose it and we in some cases implement parts of it that's partly the problem in that sense anything any chance any opportunity to
01:48:23
rethink beirut such as the one we're talking about is an opportunity to think or rethink the whole country and its geography no matter how defiant it has thankfully been to human intervention second aspect of this point is that the explosion of the harbor presents a real opportunity for us for re-centering beirut and i've been re-centering here in a very literal spatial way even though the reconstruction of the downtown of the 90s was supposed to focus on the business center and the
01:48:55
port together it quickly pushed out the port and focused on the city center alone and on speculative commercial development the explosion has brought the harbor back into the picture and is inevitably shifting the center of the city's efforts and its imagination to include the city's most viable economic region infrastructure transportation public health and preservation and inhabited neighborhoods and their intersections this bodes well for any future and
01:49:27
further thinking about the city's planning and that of lebanon not only because it expands from a center sorry not only because it enters much more deeply into the economic future of the country but also because it expands from a center focused on static space and within the national boundaries such as the downtown to a new center linked to a broader regional and global network that transcend the confines of the national physical boundaries in short i come back to the importance
01:49:59
and dare i say to the primacy of the physical dimension of what we do and to appeal to you at columbia from mit the bastion of the technical and the social aspects of what we do to please hold on to the physical and aesthetic dimensions and to keep up the efforts of coordinating across dimensions and across geographies thank you beautiful thank you dean sarkis onto thank you and thank you everyone for organizing and for having me here and thank you hashem for this plea that i
01:50:32
will really echo in in many ways indeed like you i think that it's very easy to pass a severe negative judgment on the role of planning in previous recoveries in lebanon specifically since this is how the question was framed it can range from ineffective to destructive depending on the angle you take and while some uh i mean i think for the reconstruction of beirut downtown the the whole edifice has come to its logical conclusion in october 2019
01:51:02
and crumbled partially during the port explosion so there's not much need for a conversation potentially some may think that the reconstruction of the southern suburbs of beirut under hezbollah's vibe was a pro-people recovery as some of our american colleagues have attempted to claim however with marijuana and other colleagues i think we've really shown that the way this reconstruction has happened has really trapped people in their role as supporters of the party and in the process really sort of made them potential
01:51:33
targets when the party is aimed at as far as this is positive so this is far from positive still even even as i say this uh i i think that i'm reluctant as a planner as a teacher as a thinker to drop planning precisely because it's one of the remaining only spaces in beirut that we think of the collective that we think of the we that brings us together as people who share specific urban spaces as refugees as
01:52:03
migrants as landlords as tannins as shoppers as uh and despite the fact that these publics may have ruptures that they're sectarian that they're divided that they're uh patriarchal and class still there is an effort that is being done that we feel particularly in moments of recovery where we attempt to reconstruct reimagine those spaces in which we live together and in doing so we identify ourselves as a collective and this is something which is incredibly important
01:52:35
besides that what happens if we leave things as they are as in the provocation that marwan honduras started with well i mean if we look at how things were before we started in the districts that were affected by the blast we find that displacement was already happening galore because of central bank incentives and the central national financial policy that was encouraging banks and real estate investors to use homes and in general the city as a place to store their capital we find that heritage was being
01:53:06
destroyed because uh it was much more valuable to destroy a building and replace it with a tower for those who owned it particularly in the context of a dysfunctional rent law and no protections for the right to live or work in this context simply saying we can leave people to their own self and they can reconstruct their houses i think is really dangerous because it basically is not leaving them in a space where they can imagine the regulations and transform them we're actually leaving them vulnerable in a context where it is impossible to recover one's home
01:53:38
as we're seeing today in fact with the with the ongoing recovery that's why i i firmly believe that planning is important and it's important as a tool very much in line with what dean serkis has said to allow people to imagine the possibility of this collective to come together and invasion and dream for its role as a performative practice that can really allow us to think together about what it means to have a neighborhood that connects
01:54:08
uh madame kyle and james to karan sina without the rapture the tree imagines karantina not as the dump of beirut but actually as its lift space as a place where people have the right as refugees as migrants as workers of the poor to stay in the city and have their public spaces and their living neighborhoods as a place to connect the city to its port and to recover beirut downtown not as a real estate asset but actually as a place where we can live and meet just like we did in october 2019 that can have public spaces and a real
01:54:40
infrastructure that allows us to recover the city so i really think from this perspective planning is very powerful it doesn't come with the tools of master planning and other potentially uh put in other tools that imagine sort of a main state that's a custodian of the public good in this difficult moment because this doesn't exist but this doesn't exempt us from putting together this collective vision and i'll talk here thank you muna uh inspiring as always on
01:55:10
to dean um thank you i don't know how to follow both of those presentations at all um it's an honor to be here thank you very much heber for the um invitation i have a short and hopefully very simple intervention to make this incredible discussion um the first thing to say is that i've not been in lebanon during the revolution so i didn't participate in direct actions in roadblocks in protests teachings and i think it's important to state that because i think those processes are vital and their aliveness and their openness and their contagious sense of
01:55:40
joy and and rage and humor which we experience is is so precious and important um and i think being at a distance necessitates that anything i say should defer to that unfinished project um so perhaps a reformulation of the question that i ask myself all the time is what role can the diaspora play in supporting that process and i and i hope that this gathering is part of is part of answering that question um i agree with andres i don't think there's a transformative political project that is possible without the necessary
01:56:11
transformative architectural project that's possible without a necessary political financial and institutional support i think the easier question is for architects is what to build and how to build i think the more difficult question is how to transform the political economy of architecture in alignment with progressive institutional forms how to participate in the construction of new institutions institutions that can better secure the lives of lebanese people i agree with the other participants i think the trauma of the blast is in
01:56:42
continuity with the historical debilitation of the lebanese people and lebanon's ecosystems by its political class so i want to ask maybe in the immediate term what new vulnerabilities does the blast produce within that history of debilitation what new forms of expropriation and dispossession might flow from from that event how can we begin to guard against those processes which no doubt have already begun revolution is a process i agree with hashim i think uh coordination is important and now is the
01:57:12
time to do it um but i also think the ambiguities in the early stages of revolution are not only natural but also politically productive um and so so maybe we could try to distinguish between strategic and tactical aims if between let's say emergencies and political horizons and if the strategic aim of the revolution was to take the entire political class and replace it with the democratic alternative then the tactical aims are all the steps that are required for to go from where we are now um to a socially ecologically viable future
01:57:43
so maybe rather than ask what kinds of solutions architects might be able to provide we could ask what kinds of problems can be kept alive can be exacerbated and used for political ends there was a question in the chat in the second session that read how can we cultivate this soft infrastructure so that it speaks to the multiplicity of communities in beirut without perpetuating exclusionary barriers such as classism patriotism and capitalism a partial answer to that i think is to identify
01:58:13
practical problems that are transversal to those exclusionary communities and to use them to build new communities of interest and so to conclude maybe just a question to my to my fellow participants about the concentration of work and the concentration of our effort what are the one or two key political campaigns that architects can contribute to that have the potential to trouble the political class and to mobilize popular support outside of existing networks of patronage great dean thank you we moved to mark
01:58:48
um i also want to thank hibba and the collective and all of my colleagues on the panel for this really great and important conversation i'm going to add a few brief comments maybe that circle around trauma and what i would call is the fundamental incomprehensibility of the blast itself and i suppose i have to make a distinction which is that i don't unlike almost everyone on this panel i don't work on beirut i'm not lebanese i'm not from beirut but i have spent a lot of time
01:59:21
working in beirut and so i'm going to speak a little bit about that and and my familiarity with beirut is in part through a collaboration with the arab image foundation uh a few years ago on a book and exhibition looking at the iraqi architect rifat chatterjee and his photo archives and at the time chatterjee explained to me that his obsessive photography of his buildings in baghdad was an attempt to preserve them against the damage to come
01:59:52
a damage he imagined would be caused by the instabilities of the burgeoning oil economy and the unstable politics of iraq in the 70s and 80s and because many of his buildings were eventually destroyed by the iraq wars we referred to chatterjee's photos as the product of his grim clairvoyance the very first time we visited the arab image foundation beirut some years earlier zaina erida the director of the time claimed that they were saving funds to
02:00:23
build blast walls to protect the archive last walls that i suppose never came so zaina's claim was the second instance of a grim clairvoyance the all-too-obvious symmetry between the aif situation and the content of the chatterjee archives helped us realize that although we were all equipped to think about the power and authority of archives we were less able to think about their vulnerability and maybe this registers a little bit with a question around vulnerability that
02:00:54
adrian just raised one of my points in referring to these encounters is to not only reveal another improbable symmetry between the chatterjee aif project and the damage caused by the recent beirut explosion but to also ask about the terms of the instability that both chatterjee and zaina ereda describe in the recent blast the instability is obviously the catastrophic explosiveness of ammonium nitrate when heated by oil welding and fireworks but it's also the instability of a
02:01:24
political system that allowed the port to operate as a system of graft referred to according to the new york times as alibaba's cave but the instability is also legible in the relation of the blast to other politically motivated targeted blasts the long series of car bombs that zaina ereda was referencing which is to say how to think the boundary between accident and attack is something that comes up in this case how to think the relationship between
02:01:54
accident and predictability the accidentology that very verily and others were writing about almost 20 years ago and so how to see the blast and the damage is not only an effect of this instability but also something anticipated an attack through accident through neglectful instability an attack on the city its people and its buildings and and you know in part in response to the prompt we can say that we can also obviously see the relation to these
02:02:26
uh of these attacks and the history of development in beirut and i'm thinking of sarah mcdasy's description of the blasting mania that characterized the reconstruction of downtown not only for solidare but for other earlier post-war reconstruction episodes in which more damage was done to buildings through the blasting of damaged buildings than during the war itself and and and those descriptions blasting appears like a consuming economy that in beirut has wrapped together
02:02:57
neoliberalism politics and the registration and the deregistration of history or to put even more bluntly the blast is politics by other means a technique of urbanization and de-urbanization the source as well as a symptom of trauma wonderful mark thank you thank you for the amazing panel thank you for the food for thought we're going to move now to uh last question on heritage um i know some of the panelists need to leave so i want to thank people who need to leave at this moment thank you for making this
02:03:28
event possible thank you for joining and then we'll continue please stay for our last question and for the open discussion um on to the last question uh thank you dean thank you inside thank you mark and good evening i'm mula salamon jisap alumna among the 8 000 affected buildings 640 are historic buildings approximately 60 of which are at risk of collapse as per the survey of the lebanese directorate general of archaeology
02:04:05
what are the practices and technologies that can assist in the rehabilitation efforts to preserve the city's heritage what are the different axes that we need to think about when we think about heritage reconstruction and its role in developing a shared history as well as vehicle for economic recovery the deed to this question will be given to el ceno zainab satsu and we regret to inform you that due to timing jorge terro pilos has had to drop
02:04:37
out of the event we thank him for his attention and we'll link to the current to his current work um with the gsap historic preservation uh department in the chat so please well uh go ahead yes hi everyone first i'd like to thank hiba and the team for organizing this very exciting discussion and for all your efforts so regarding my answer i'll be talking about many four aspects the first one is the conservation
02:05:09
management plan mainly the the data so having access to to data especially during such times is very crucial in order to ensure like a very efficient and fast response to any type of emergency and when it comes to heritage buildings it is even more crucial because any type of intervention will have a very important effect on or impact on the authenticity of these buildings normally in normal cases each heritage
02:05:39
building should have a restitution plan that includes records archives documentation photos drawings a proper documentation that shows the first photo let's say and the last one of these buildings and whenever we want to do like renovation works we always take the documentation of this restitution plan to ensure that our response and our intervention is very specific to specific contexts and characteristics of these buildings however unfortunately in lebanon we
02:06:10
don't have this type of documentation which was very highly needed especially that most of our heritage buildings were either affected with minor or major damages or even some of them were partially or fully collapsed and as stated by unesco almost 8 000 heritage buildings were affected and 60 are at risk of collapse and so due to the absence of documentation it is very crucial and important to draft a very
02:06:41
efficient and systematic methodology on how to rehabilitate these buildings in order to ensure to preserve their characteristics and their authenticity this can be done for example by adopting solutions that fall under innovative techniques and practices like for example the hbm the heritage and building information management where we go uh assess and survey the building produce an a3d as built
02:07:12
model of the space and incorporate all the the potential interventions based on specific criteria and guidelines and mainly to ensure a building block better approach through sustainable and green techniques for example here we can include the energy component as well because we have this opportunity now another aspect is the resilience plan so we live in a seismic prone area we are classified as a medium zone with high risk of seismic activities where lots of actual earthquakes
02:07:43
take place even if we don't feel them and these types of earthquakes has a high effect on the built environment and specifically the heritage buildings which were not designed to actually withstand such natural vibrations and also it was shown after the blast that our infrastructure is very weak be it the buildings or the underground networks so even most of the buildings that were affected by the blast where heritage buildings be as i said earlier they they cannot take lateral forces
02:08:13
they work on gravity so this is why now we have to take the opportunity during the ongoing rehabilitation works uh on including uh elements such as the bracing elements the structural frames or shear walls to make them uh resilient we have to take this opportunity now to have a resilient resilience plan for each uh heritage buildings so moving to the third aspect which is the human approach uh most of the heritage buildings are not public and we have lots of hlp housing land and
02:08:45
property problems so other than the physical component of the heritage buildings we need to promote reforms to endorse the owners and the residents rights this could be reflected in a national plan for heritage conservation where well-protected laws are developed and endorsed i think also this is a very important point to touch on the social aspect and to ensure the social cohesion between the local community between the owners and residents because we know that this topic specifically the heritage buildings we have lots of problems
02:09:15
when it comes to the housing and the land on the property and the fourth aspect is a very important one as well which is to actually create a comprehensive heritage map for the city of beirut in order to promote it as a heritage gem however here it is not it is not only about the heritage buildings it is also uh we have around 8 000 creative and cultural industries in lebanon out of which 4 000 were actually affected for example the exhibition spaces the
02:09:46
museums the art centers which are not well promoted and i'm sure that none we don't know all of them so this is why it's also very important now to to to to have a little law that protect them and to focus not only on the heritage-built environment but also on the the skills and the culture that were derived from our ancestors uh this will have a great influence on the economy and will create a sort of economic wheel uh for example when we have tourists in lebanon like it shouldn't be a rule like they have to go outside beirut to check our
02:10:17
heritage and see what we have in lebanon they can actually dig deeper in beirut and see all these hidden gems the real skills and cultures that the culture that we have in and by root so mainly as as an objective we should have heritage as a catalyst for economic growth and social inclusion uh this is my intervention thank you so much thank you professor thank you so much and to the collective for inviting me to join all of you today i have to say
02:10:49
at the outset that i also i'm not somebody who's been working in beirut at all um so i'm kind of an outsider to to this work and i'm happy to be a part of it because one of the things that i i would like to advocate for is forming allegiances and um i think that the reason that hiba asked me um to join you today
02:11:21
is because i work in iraq and most of my work or i would say pretty much all my career has been working in a post-disaster situation or i shouldn't say post-disaster because it's a continuing disaster as you know it's not a disaster that's ended um so we continue uh with the challenge of working within uh such a disaster zone so um how do you deal with these issues
02:11:54
when of course when i first heard about the beirut blast um i was heartbroken as everyone else for all of my friends and uh even family that i have there uh but one of my immediate thoughts right afterwards was about exploitation the potential exploitation and the reason that this came to my mind is not simply because i'm a pessimist but because
02:12:22
of what i've seen happen in the place where i work iraq so heritage preservation we have heard that there are all of these buildings that have been damaged and heritage preservation is of course a very important thing um but i think what i would like to warn or caution is that it works although we often tend to think
02:12:53
of it as somehow unrelated to politics because it's heritage that it actually works within frames of power and so i would caution that we have to be careful about um what we call authorized heritage discourse and i think that we need some really radical changes um in the way that we talk about these things and the way that things are done so i would uh be cautious of authorized heritage
02:13:25
discourse and with the regimes of funding that are associated with it because this is something that you're going to have to deal with in beirut very soon and the regimes of funding have to do with how the work is conducted uh when the funding begins and ends what you're allowed to do also how uh heritage buildings and neighborhoods are divine defined and so of course what happens is
02:13:56
with international stakeholders and uh privatization and ngozation coming in what happens is that a redefinition of neighborhoods along sectarian lines um and this is something that i've seen happening in iraq uh i would like to say that it's just something that's happened internally and blame it on the iraqi government but unfortunately it's also to be put the onus also has to be put
02:14:28
on international organizations that are supporting a sectarian view um and imposing it through regimes of funding um that we have to depend upon to do our work uh there so it's led to actually uh greater disaster and and greater violence and greater toxicity i would say um so uh i appreciate what maron said at the beginning um about uh deregulation and and getting
02:15:00
rid of uh such things um because i do think that what we need across the region i think what we need are some truly radical uh changes in our vision in our in in the way that we uh dream about what we uh want for our future we have to be we have to hope for really radical differences and changes and i think the only way that we can do those is to um
02:15:32
go ahead and take the lead ourselves but i also at the same time worry about deregulation um because what's happened in in the world where i work on the ground i mean not theoretically but really right there in the field and working on these issues and so many ways that um this has been used it's a two-edged sword because it's also again been used for exploitation
02:16:03
and then private interests have come in and allowed uh uh neighborhoods to be destroyed in the interest of uh building something that would be more profitable for outside forces and so on and so forth and of course a part of this has become a way to kind of perpetuate forms of ethnic cleansing by forced movements of people from neighborhoods
02:16:37
um in the interest of preserving or reconstructing a heritage neighborhood but in fact what it ends up being is forcibly relocating people because a particular ethnicity or sect happened to live there so i just want to warn um about these uh terrible things that have happened that i've experienced over the past 18 years of my work in iraq um i've tried to
02:17:09
do what i would i consider a kind of a counter mapping and documentation of historical architecture and monuments throughout the country and i think of this as a kind of a counter mapping and i have to i mean since somebody mentioned i would like to um have a shout out to to him in his memory because uh it was his work is among the the
02:17:41
my predecessors my iraqi predecessors who did try to document all kinds of things uh before it was too late and i see my work as being along those lines lines um and uh i hope that we can continue to have these conversations with people in beirut um and another thing that i thought of uh with the explosion or what i read at the time was this beautiful poem by muhammad mahdi
02:18:12
al-jawahari about beirut and baghdad beirut and bardat um being sort of sisters in in confronting and facing disaster and and pain and how the pain of beirut is really the pain of baghdad and uh that we carry your pain in our hearts and i hope that we can form these allegiances and work together uh towards a more
02:18:44
hopeful future and not be too pessimistic um about all of the disasters that we've confronted thank you zainab so much for the food of thought and for for the food of thought and we're gonna call on abby as a as a resident of of madame of heritage architecture to maybe provide that kind of perspective thank you a former resident um i will just briefly echo on the reconstruction node that karim already mentioned
02:19:21
because it's also important to say that this reconstruction law because there's always a very big concern in the public discourse about heritage the law uh also focuses on heritage in response to a uh like a big call uh where uh the state tried to show that it has been responding to the ongoing debate which is really a lot about uh a mere focus on buildings
02:19:52
and this is what the law does it focuses on buildings without any motivation to link it to the social fabric to communities and to livelihoods and this is very reminiscent of the heritage preservation efforts in post-civil war beirut uh which were detached from housing rights and hence led to mass waves of demolitions and displacements um and so along the same approach a lot of the heritage assessments being done
02:20:23
on the ground by private and public actors do not include in these assessments any form of occupancy in the surveys or do not include socio-economic conditions of inhabitants um so for instance a lot of the a lot of the inhabitants of these 640 historic buildings are all tenants because these buildings are in very bad condition there is a need for a very quick renovation to ensure a quick return of residents however
02:20:55
so far procedures that have been put to renovate historic buildings have been tied to a very complicated bureaucratic process a very stringent renovation criteria and of course the need for renovation permits that are only linked to the acceptance of the landlord so we've seen a lot of cases where uh not only all tenants but tenants in general who are willing to return and willing to them paid the renovation
02:21:26
but this has been blocked by the control of the landlord who doesn't want to renovate because to some uh land owners and in madame island the surrounding areas a lot of these cases are real estate developers some of them uh are using this as a chance to actually evict tenants uh whether they're rent controlled tenants or uh tenants under the current rent law and so as such we like if presidents are not
02:21:57
taken into consideration really the 640 historic buildings that will be renovated will actually turn into a process of gentrification it will hold the return of residents and it will make their rental value in the market much higher so as such there's really a need today to possibly shift the debate from heritage buildings towards actually the historic socioeconomic life of these neighbor
02:22:28
neighborhoods so in fact if we take if we think of the area of madam khalil there is a local economy that existed since the 1920s we can understand this local economy as a historic one it consisted of crafts of all businesses and so on and this old economy had been deteriorating for the past 10 years before the the explosion while heritage buildings were actually still standing um and so making creating a further rupture
02:23:01
between the built historic buildings and what actually happened in these historic buildings won't actually lead us anywhere i think it will reproduce the conditions that were happening since before the blast in terms of waves of displacement and the rupture of socioeconomic relations and just to end up i think we really need to go back here to prioritizing
02:23:30
users to think of their role in defending these houses and here just like to link back to the discussion that was happening there is a real fear that us as professionals or practitioners or planners or so on if we do not think of users and residents of the neighborhoods as a part as like an important part of what's happening we will also play a role in further marginalizing them because they do not have existing organizational frameworks they
02:24:04
do not own institutions we own institutions we are part of ngos of universities and so on but they don't neighborhood committees don't exist uh organizational frameworks for residents don't exist they have been actually been explicitly killed throughout the years of the civil war and after and as such we really need to be aware of that and understand our positionality in that and put it takes a lot of effort but
02:24:36
actually play a leading role with them and i will end here thank you thank you thank you everyone and what a great note to end on so um uh we are way past our time but it's fine we're gonna stay please whoever can stay turn your video on uh there are many questions already in the in the q a i know we're about 160 people are still with us so if you guys have questions in the audience please post them for us
02:25:07
and i'm gonna leave it for the collective to moderate uh this session and the panelists who are still online hi uh my name is dina mahmoud i'm a gsap alumna um so me and maya are gonna be moderating the q a and again feel free to type any more questions in the chat and we'll be directing questions to people and certain questions and other questions will be left open so maya is going to start with the first question
02:25:36
hi everyone so we try to combine a few questions from the chat the first one is about the port and how can the port maintain its economic functionality and avoid being overtaken by developers and gentrification what do you think about opening it up to the public and integrating and connecting it to the city after its rehabilitation and what are your thoughts on converting the silos or the site into a memorial monument i'd like to open it for any of the paleontists would like to answer
02:26:11
anyone i can do it i mean i can try to start a conversation and maybe throw a few uh ignorant provocations that would get others to intervene i i'll just say that the port of beirut has really changed a lot its position and its interaction with the city uh as you guys know uh the port uh the neighborhoods that were affected by the blast were all developed in connection to the port whether it's canantina which was the city's quarantine or whether it's beirut
02:26:46
downtown that and and the expansion of the port that made beirut the city it is the port was an integral element and these neighborhoods housed all the services that uh had to do with the port except in the post uh civil war era the port increasingly became this piece of infrastructure that's dissociated from the city it became more and more a transporting area and it turned its back to the city and the pier that exploded was an old storage place where they used to leave the things that no one asked
02:27:16
for including believe it or not apparently what was it 2 800 tons of ammonium nitrate so and fireworks next to them so it's so so so in the last decade there has already been calls among colleagues and urbanists to uh to try and recover that piece of the port as an as a connection to the city as an open area and to create a continuity of the city's coast and bring it all the way
02:27:46
here and many of my colleagues are thinking about this as they're teaching studios right now and thinking about the city how we connect that piece of the port at least back to the city and recover it i personally think that while this can be a long-term ambitious uh really nice project it is potentially more important immediately to think about what can be recovered immediately as as a place that's still livable that people are still using before we lose it
02:28:17
also to vulture capitalism that's why i i feel that particularly in the absence of a state or a custodian of the common good that would actually champion a pro-people uh recovery we need to start with the neighborhoods and if we're going to start with the neighborhoods and the people who live there because they're the only people who can make these things accountable while the port and the commemoration are all wonderful initiatives and i can only imagine what beautiful urban design and urban planning interventions can be it may be more critical right now to begin to think what do we set
02:28:49
in place in the neighborhoods to recover them not only as individual home but also as collectives and as places that are lived in and that function as economic engines for a different economy of the city because right now what we're seeing is everything is closing up the stores are closing people are leaving the tenants are leaving so don't be so worried honestly and i stop here i swear don't be so worried about gentrification because there is no gentrification there's just very rapid impoverishment and anyone who can come and open a small store and send stuff and
02:29:20
and sell some stuff and allow people in the neighborhood to benefit a little bit would be great yeah no here here there's no time limit go ahead thank you thank you would anyone like to add anything maybe marwan or mark um i i i probably want to ask the people in beirut aren't there also investors coming in and seeing the opportunity of the disaster as a way to so uh shouldn't also there be some
02:29:57
thinking about the protection against all of these i mean we know that it happened in every uh previous battle and this is one of the few that i was not embedded with so the is it i'm wondering uh should we worry about gentrification from that perspective and the fact that there is a probably a lot of investors that are now interested in these neighborhoods that are more preserved than other places in the city i don't want to actually uh answered one
02:30:32
of the questions for us that was going to be directed to you um the there is a question directed to karina mood i think he's still on hopefully um there you are hi uh so how is the refugee influx of the last few years effective gentrification rent prices and displacement in beirut and how do we include minorities and refugees in this in the frameworks of reconstruction that's a very good question because actually uh uh in the area and the mankind area you had
02:31:03
a lot of uh non-lebanese residents basically a lot of domestic workers who lived there a lot of refugees and that's who lived there um i'm not really sure i could i can answer as a lawyer how it affected justification but i can tell you that the the uh narrative basically from the point of view of refugees and domestic workers and foreign workers in general was completely absent from the post uh uh bailly blast uh it was thanks to initiatives and uh
02:31:34
organizations like the anti-racism movement who basically really put forth uh this narrative noting that a lot of those refugees and a lot of those foreign workers a big chunk of them um uh are undocumented workers basically so they are in the most vulnerable uh um situation amongst the residents who live there and they basically have almost no uh protective mechanism legally this of course would affect access to
02:32:06
housing because they will they wouldn't be able to uh register uh uh rents uh uh officially uh so they would have to resort to um very informal uh housing a lot of them were in informal housing before so they had no guarantees in terms of damages uh some of them were injured some of them lost their houses and they have no alternatives so again this is where unfortunately i mean fortunately unfortunately
02:32:37
ngos are stepping in i i say unfortunately because i want the state to intervene really here in this in this sphere i don't want this trend of having privatizations through ngo happen because it really benefits the the the the the on the neoliberal uh uh philosophy that basically really governed the lebanese state for the last couple of decades um i'm gonna take also this opportunity just to correct myself on something because i was i don't want mona to hit me she already
02:33:09
did a little bit on what's up i i didn't mean that there was a good side to disaster capitalism i just meant that disaster is also an opportunity in uh to to rethink space and basically fight um all uh radical ideas that come from neoliberal policies and that profit from that so i'm trying to really turn the table on neoliberalism here by saying that when there's a disaster happens like the pandemic like the bayou
02:33:40
blast it is also an opportunity for other radical ideas that uh to emerge for instance in terms of rethinking a public space in terms of rethinking housing uh what sort of housing do we want and workspace so just i want this on record so that i i would hear i would hear the end of it from mona actually thank you karim uh i'd like to move to a question that uh nashville marked as uh that she would answer it um so it's actually um
02:34:11
one of the first few questions what do you what do you think is the most realistic approach to move forward given what happened in the past 100 days will it be a city indulged in even more ruins or do you think it's realistic to expect some sort of rebuild in the areas most affected considering uh the search of uh covet missing i'll confess that i clicked that by mistake but i can still attempt um so uh i mean if you walk around the
02:34:42
neighborhoods there actually is activity there's some rebuilding there's a lot of fixing happening a lot of it is uh initiatives like the ones that dunno was describing and was actually involved in that muna has been describing and documenting so no i think that that uh comments painted an extremely bleak scenario we're not there um i'd like to link that to the question that marwan just asked which is about investors coming in and vultures coming
02:35:12
in and it's sort of part of the disaster capitalism yes the explosion is going to aggravate the same incentives that really were already there because of the economic crisis so here it's concentrated geographically and yes potentially it is a neighborhood that has a specific aesthetic appeal or some sort of culture to it that maybe can be financialized but this kind of dispossession is
02:35:42
happening has been happening ever since the economic collapse it's less centralized it's less geographically concentrated and um it's probably across a lot of sectors not just real estate but that's that's exactly i mean this is the impoverishment that we're trying to grapple with here and trying to identify and diagnose and map as accurately as we can and as comprehensively as we can and this is a probably a very uh brute force show of it a sort of a brute
02:36:14
manifestation of it but it's it's just an accelerated magnified form but it is happening anyway it's happening everywhere not just in that neighborhood and not just because of the court explosion just because of the general impoverishment and the and the and the ability and the the huge disparities that i was describing and the ability for some actors to just sit back and wait until things are dire enough that they can reap incredible resources for very little
02:36:46
thank you everyone um just as a as a there was a question in that chat and we're gonna add after here about the building for the war yet to come uh and i i chose specifically not to speak speak today because of that but my answer to that is actually that the categories of peace war explosion crisis are very not distinct and i think this is where we need to start rather than idealizing what peace is and what war is about but the questions of what we try to talk about today is how to build for whom for what kind of future
02:37:18
or futures is a much needed conversation that we need to continue to have and i have today i hope that today's event was just a start or more actually of a continuation of the amazing work that many of you here on the screen have been doing and i'm sure many of the people who are listening to us i want to thank everyone for keeping the hope going although many of us here have been through many reconstructions and we've talked about it um but as i said the collective gave me a lot of hope and i think this conversation was also a very hopeful note too so let's keep uh let's keep the war yet to come to the side and hope
02:37:49
for a better kind of future that is not uh that is different than what we had uh previously i want to thank the collective for being an amazing group of people it was my pleasure thank you for the panelists for being my mentors and and people who continue to inspire me and um till soon again i want to thank everyone and hopefully we'll continue to do this in the future

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