Gentrification is Colonialism: Housing and Colonizing Architecture
December 3, 2022
Forge Project, a new Native-led arts and decolonial education initiative based in Ancram, is hosting a three-part series of dialogues and intimate conversation sessions, “Gentrification is Colonialism,” between local organizers, community members, and Indigenous activists whose work fights against gentrification, the housing crisis, “sick” architecture, and the ways in which artists and cultural spaces are complicit in their construction.
Housing & Colonizing Architecture
Moderator: Kwame Holmes, scholar in residence at Bard, Human Rights
Panelists: Chris Cornelius, architect, studio:indigenous
Alec Martinez, urban-planning student, Harvard Graduate School of Design
The second panel, “Housing and Colonizing Architecture,” will take place in Kingston, a city with severe and compounded housing, affordability, and zoning crises that are pushing families with the fewest options into increasingly desperate circumstances. The dialogue will focus on the ways in which architecture itself, including but not limited to "public” or government housing, is a tool of the colonial project in the United States and Canada. In this context, Indigenous architecture, both historical and contemporary, offer non- and anti-colonial models useful in understanding and extending both organizing and scholarship with regards to government housing.
As COVID-19 continues to be active in our communities, proof of COVID-19 vaccination and masks will be required for all who visit Forge Project or Forge Project hosted events. If you are feeling ill or have been recently exposed to either COVID-19 or MPVX, we ask that you stay home.
About the Series
The series expands from the central tenet that gentrification is colonialism, and that one of the ways we can understand how gentrification operates as well as means to counter its effects is by tracing its historical roots in the displacement and genocide of Indigenous people, particularly in the Mahhicannituck (Hudson River) Valley.
Each panel will be moderated by a local artist or organizer, and feature local activists known for their work on the topic in dialogue with an Indigenous activist, architect, artist, or scholar in Forge Project’s community who is taking a new approach to this age-old colonial issue. The public panel will be followed by a debriefing conversation among panelists and community members, where participants can ask more specific questions and discuss the issues raised during these conversations in greater depth.
The entire series is free and open to the public; registration is appreciated. Light refreshments will follow each panel and lunch will be served during the debriefing conversations.
About Kwame Holmes
Kwame Holmes is scholar-in-residence in the human rights program at Bard College. He has worked at the intersection of academic and community activism throughout his career and, since moving to Kingston, is working to transform the public discourse on housing justice through the Kingston Housing Lab, a project that Holmes and students have geocoded and collected information on hundreds of properties in Kingston’s Midtown section. Through KHL, data is emerging about the role of corporate ownership in the local property market, the impact of Airbnbs and other vacation rental sites on the rental market, and the realities of gentrification. In addition to his work focused on the Kingston housing market, Holmes provides leadership to the Bard Baccalaureate program (BardBac), a full-scholarship pathway for adults to complete bachelor’s degrees from Bard College.
About Chris Cornelius
Chris Cornelius is a citizen of the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin. He is Professor and Chair of the Department of Architecture at the University of New Mexico and is the founding principal of studio:indigenous.
Cornelius was a collaborating designer with Antoine Predock on the Indian Community School of Milwaukee. Chris is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including the inaugural Miller Prize from Exhibit Columbus, a 2018 Architect’s Newspaper Best of Design Award, and an Artist residency from the National Museum of the American Indian. Chris has been exhibited widely including the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale. Cornelius was the Spring 2021, Louis I. Kahn Visiting Assistant Professor at Yale University.
About Alec Martinez
Alec Martinez is an urban planning student at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. They study the decommodification of land and housing and are currently writing a thesis on land use and value systems inspired by indigenous ecotheologies and anti-capitalist geography. They are originally from Laredo, Texas, along the Rio Grande River, the homelands of the Coahuitecan and the Comecrudo Nations from which they derive their lineage. Prior to being a student, they did activist work on the border, ranging from organizing protests to creating urban gardens.
About Forge Project
Forge Project is a Native-led initiative centered on Indigenous art, decolonial education, and supporting leaders in culture, food security, and land justice. Located on the unceded homelands of the Muh-he-con-ne-ok in New York, Forge Project works to upend political and social systems formed through generations of settler colonialism.
Launched in 2021, Forge Project serves the social and cultural landscape of shared communities through a funded fellowship program for Indigenous culture workers, including those working in food and land justice, law and decolonial governance, and art. Forge hosts Native-led public education and events, a lending art collection focused on contemporary art by Indigenous artists, and art-,land-, and food-based educational programming at the Community Learning Kitchen developed in partnership with Sky High Farm.