Benjamin Heim Shepard is Professor of Human Services at New York City College of Technology. For the last two decades, he has worked on campaigns for public space, including community gardens, bike lanes, and public welfare issues ranging from education to AIDS services. To this end, he has done organizing work with the Professional Staff Congress, ACT UP, SexPanic!, Reclaim the Streets, Times UP, CitiWide Harm Reduction, Housing Works, and More Gardens!. He is currently the president of the Mid Atlantic Consortium of Human Services. He is also the author of the books: Illuminations on Market Street, bel Friendships,Community Projects as Social Activism: From Direct Action to Direct Services, White Nights and Ascending Shadows: An Oral History of the San Francisco AIDS Epidemic and Queer Political Performance and Protest. Part two of this study is Play, Creativity, and Social Movements. Along with Greg Smithsimon, he is co-author of The Beach Beneath the Streets: Contesting New York’s Public Spaces. He is the co-editor of the book From ACT UP to the WTO: Urban Protest and Community Building in the Era of Globalization which was a non-fiction finalist for the Lambda Literary Awards in 2002.
1. Cities as DIY Spaces: On Dialectical Activism and the Future of Cities
2. Eco-Activism Increase / Reduce, Growth / Degrowth: From Seed Bombs to Community Gardens and Bike Lanes to Sustainable Urbanism
3. Public Spaces and Urban Vistas: From Gardens to Urban Libraries and a Struggle Against the Negative
4. Community Gardens, Creative Community Organizing, and Environmental Activism
5. Dialectical Times: On the Movement for Non-polluting Transportation and Sustainable Urbanism in New York City
6. Gardens Are Homes, Gardens Rising
7. Primitive Accumulation and a Movement for a Home in a Neoliberal City
8. Contested Urban Space, Union Square, and Dispatches on Voluntary and Involuntary Arrests in New York City
9. From Emma Goldman to Riot Grrrl, Sex Work, Autonomy and the Transformation of Streets: Reproductive Autonomy, Public Space and Social Movements
10. Between ADHD and the Desert of the Real: Confessions of a Teenage Ritalin Junkie
11. Bridging the Divide between Queer Theory and Anarchism
12. Harm Reduction as Pleasure Activism
13. Urban Spaces as Living Theater: Toward a Public Space Party for Play, Poetry, and Naked Bike Rides (New York City, 2010–2015)
14. Notes Toward a Conclusion from the Global Climate March to Paris, Dystopia Versus Utopia in Dialectical Urban Activism
15. Afterward, From Pandemic to Solidarity, Mutual Aid from Plague Days to Autonomous Zones
About the Author
In our current moment, filled with peril and possibility, Sustainable Urbanism and Direct Action is a welcome and timely intervention that casts a needed spotlight on effective ways to be actively engaged in forging a collective future that is more just, meaningful, and sustainable.
How can we build and sustain community in urban neighborhoods? Ben Shepard deftly melds centuries of theory and decades of insights from seasoned activists to produce compelling answers. Shepard playfully paints vibrant portraits of potent campaigns to reclaim and remake public spaces for the common good. From mobilizations to protect affordable housing, community gardens, bike lanes, and public health, to innovative efforts to create economic and social justice for all, Shepard forges viable pathways towards a desirable 21st century. A must read for engaged scholars and activists seeking to make a sustainable urbanism.— Ron Hayduk, Professor, San Francisco State UniversityIn this well-written account, Benjamin Shepard shows how publics, places, and propitious moments combine to reveal the dialectical interplay between urban order and resistance. Shepard skillfully invokes the work of revolutionary thinkers and activists, such as Marx, Lukacs and Goldman to elucidate his case studies. He delivers a host of concise, colorful narratives about practicable public spaces, while relating a bigger story about the city, where contest is the requisite buy-in for personal and collective freedom.— Anthony Maniscalco, Author of Public Spaces, Marketplaces, and the ConstitutionA great read, full of hope and progress from an activist who dives deep into the struggle in the city that never sleeps. While sharing both theory and action, Shepard's book is serious fun, powerfully framed by mutual aid, the feeling of immediacy and his awareness of the effectiveness of protest.— Wendy E. Brawer, Founding Director, Green Map System
Participate in any action in New York, and you’ll have a strong chance of coming across Benjamin Heim Shepard. For thirty years, this big, rugged, brown-haired guy with the look of a leading man has been in all the battles. He’s protested for bike lanes, community gardens, with drug users, against the pharmaceutical industry… Some people practice sports every day. Benjamin protests every day. “Every day,” he says, as if he’s delivering the secret of youth.
Benjamin Heim Shepard is an organizer, ecologist, provocateur, theorist, and community historian -- a true trickster poly-math -- and he brings all these gifts and lenses to his latest work, Sustainable Urbanism: Case Studies in Dialectical Activism, guiding us beyond gentrification to a livable, post-carbon city.