Perspectives

Distressed Cities
Communities of varied sizes across the United States are struggling with the loss of industry, growing unemployment, foreclosures and abandoned properties, fiscal crisis, and the resulting strains across the social fabric. Scholars and practitioners label large communities facing the most obvious and significant challenges as “distressed cities,” and tremendous energy, scholarship, and effort has gone into understanding the causes and dimensions of distress, and to identify possible ways to generate or restore community health and vibrancy.

SPIA’s Conference 2012
Virginia Tech’s School of Public and International Affairs (SPIA) took a deep, interdisciplinary look at the empirical and conceptual issues surrounding distressed cities in the Ridenour Faculty Fellowship Conference on April 12 and 13th 2012. Our method was free flowing multidisciplinary discussions focused on key concepts and resources related to distress, and the result was a critical yet generative examination of distress as condition and as concept. The role of art, public participation, planning, passion, policy, leadership, emergency response, and more were rubbed against each other during our conference, and both the sparks and the smoke of this action helped us draw a bigger picture, raising epistemological, political and practical questions.

Perspectives
We will now work together to develop a volume presenting and further developing the theoretical and practical ideas of the conference to contribute to and advance knowledge and action for this crucial public challenge. We’ll keep you posted on this site.

Anne Khademian, Anja Haelg Bieri