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Urban Communication Reader IV

Cities as Communicative Change Agents


Edited By erin daina mcclellan, Yongjun Shin and Curry Chandler

Today, the world is facing climate change, wealth inequality, housing crises, food shortages, mass migration, and now a global health pandemic. Cities are at the heart of both these problems and their solutions. Urban communication scholars are well-poised to examine the change initiatives that are both caused and inspired by such complex problems. This volume provides a collection of urban communication research focused on how examining change through the lens of communication provides unique processual understandings of cities as dynamic sites formed through the interplay between concrete cases and conceptual ideas. The first section, Change through Institutional Intervention, addresses how diverse societal institutions—including policy, regulation, planning, and voluntary arts—interplay with changes in our urban communities. The second section, Change in Place and through Space, explores various ways in which spaces and places are able to transform through communicative practice, specifically focusing on how space and place provide unique frames for communicating change and influencing interaction in cities. The third section, Change through Participation and Engagement, collectively draws attention to the ways that public participation and engagement are utilized in cities in ways that enhance the communication both within and about them, focusing specifically on how this happens globally in teaching and learning environments, community planning partnerships, industrial site redevelopment projects, and approaches to food sovereignty in urban agricultural initiatives.
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2. Styling Sustainable Atlanta: Touring the BeltLine and Public Performances of Concordance: SCOTT TULLOCH, BOROUGH OF MANHATTAN COMMUNITY COLLEGE, CUNY, U.S.


2. Styling Sustainable Atlanta: Touring the BeltLine and Public Performances of Concordance



Communicative planning has been presented as an alternative to top-down development, directed by the exclusive needs of government and private developers. Despite more inclusive public participation, development is uneven and some benefit more than others from the changing city. The Atlanta BeltLine has embraced principles of communicative planning and is one of the largest redevelopment projects underway in the United States. The BeltLine is an extensive urban renewal project that involves building a twenty-two mile light rail loop integrated with parks, trails, and mixed-use development around Atlanta’s urban core. I identify rhetorical maneuvers performed by the BeltLine (its sites, materials and proponents) by participating and critiquing well-attended and publicized tours of the project. I build upon rhetorical theories of “disruptive” (Blair & Michel, 2000) and “interruptive” (Aiello, 2011) visual-material performances. I argue touring the BeltLine is a visual-material performance of concordance, involving complex arrangements of particular bodies, fragmented sites, and divergent temporal contexts, contiguous in rhetorical figurations of community, unified space, and shared passage through time. Touring the BeltLine sutures the fragmentation and heterogeneity of urban space. The case study illustrates how institutions and developers can manage forms of public participation to minimize dissent and project consent to urban renewal.

Keywords: urban renewal, Atlanta, BeltLine, concordance, material performances, touring, rhetoric, style, figures, communicative planning

There has been a “communicative turn” in urban planning...

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