Parallel Urbanism

Local People Regulating Local Spaces

Monday, February 28, 2011, 6:30pm

@ Wix Lounge
10 West 18th Street, 2nd Floor
New York, New York

Major decisions that affect design and planning of cities are made by urban planners, politicians, policymakers, real estate owners, and the government. The local people who inhabit the city usually don’t have much say in how their city is being planned, designed, or restructured.

These design decisions may include planning out services like health care, education, transportation, and other urban infrastructure for the city dwellers. This panel hopes to explore the middle ground between local people and decision-makers. How can the decision makers tap into the grassroots level community activism to come up with better decisions regarding urban living? On the other hand, how do the local people get access to the decision makers to get their voices heard with regard to the city? These are some of the questions we hope to answer through this panel.

The Panelists:

Jyoti Hosagrahar | The Urbanist
Jyoti is faculty at Columbia University, New York and Director of Sustainable Urbanism International. Architect, planner, and historian, she advises on urban development, historic conservation, and sustainability issues in Asia. Her research interests include urban heritage; cultural and environmental sustainability of cities, focusing on the intersections of nature, culture, and the built environment; and postcolonial perspectives in design and planning. She serves as an expert for UNESCO on historic cities.

Lina Srivastava | The Strategist
Lina is the principal of Lina Srivastava Consulting, LLC, which focuses on employing strategy, innovation, engagement and the use of cultural assets to create and demonstrate social change. The former executive director of Kids with Cameras and the past interim executive director of the Association of Video and Filmmakers, she is currently the strategist for Three Generations and a partner in the social change strategy team for the Resist Network. Trained as an attorney, she is based in New York City.

John Geraci | The Technologist
John has spent the last six years making life in cities better with the use of web technologies. His latest project,, has web developers and urban planners all over the world teaming up to create open source tools for residents of cities everywhere. Prior to DIYcity, Geraci co-founded the hyperlocal news network His earlier work, which includes web-meets-real-world projects Neighbornode, Foundcity, and Grafedia, has been featured in the New York Times, Wired, Popular Science, and other news sources. You can visit his website at

The Organizers:

Shagun Singh
Shagun is an interaction designer and founder of At present she works for frog design in New York City. In the past she has worked for design shops like Antenna design, 2×, C&G partners, Method Inc, and SOM. She also coordinates the Architecture for Humanity NY Chapter Studio initiative that promotes architectural and environmental design-driven social change in New York and abroad by empowering design activists with the tools of collaboration and open forum.

Sonali Sridhar
Sonali has been a board member of SAWCC from 2008–2011. She is currently an interaction designer using web, print, and mobile electronics to explore the connectivity and psychology of design. She has also spent two years as an interaction designer for The Open Planning Project where her work focused primarily on web applications that fostered citizen engagement with government entities. Sonali is fascinated with wearable technology, designing objects that interact with daily life, form addictions, and provide comfort.

Ruhi Shamim
Ruhi Shamim is a social media strategist, specializing in corporate social responsibility, sustainable urban design, and cultural diplomacy. She has worked with Sosauce, Justmeans, Sparkseed, and the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility. She is currently developing a green network for JobThread, a New York–based technology startup.

Hosted by Designwala, SAWCC, and Wix Lounge.