• The People’s Park: Work, the Body, and the Built Environment in Radical Postwar Placemaking
    Kera Lovell

Chicano Park, established by Barrio Logan residents underneath the San Diego-Coronado Bridge and in 1970, 2006. Digital photograph. Available from Flickr Commons,, Courtesy kellinahandbasket

Through this research project and interactive supplementary website, the birth of “People's Parks”—a strand of radical placemaking in the late 1960s and early 1970s in which activists illegally transformed vacant lots into imagined utopias are traced. Now approaching the 50th anniversary of these sites, the book uses oral history interviews, audio/visual materials, undercover police reports, and underground newspaper articles to explore how inclusion and conflict shaped this environmental design movement. When pieced together, these sources reveal activist-created parks as more than merely sites of protest but heated, complex negotiations in how design can be political. Situating three case studies in Berkeley, San Diego, and Chicago within a narrative of more than four-dozen illegal parks created across the United States during this era, the project demonstrates how activists were interrogating the function and meaning of labor, materiality, and food culture as the basis for radical worldbuilding.

Kera Lovell is an assistant professor of history at the University of Utah Asia Campus in South Korea. There she teaches courses on women and gender and the history of the United States. She earned her doctorate in American studies from Purdue University. Over the past few years she has taught at Purdue University, Ball State University, and the University of Hawai’i. This project has been recognized with numerous awards, including a Citation of Special Recognition from the Graham Foundation’s Carter Manny Award program; the Hoover Institution’s Silas Palmer Fellowship, Purdue University’s Global Synergy Research Grant, and Purdue Research Foundation. Her research has been published in the American Studies Journal, Women’s Studies Quarterly, Gender Issues, Black Perspectives, and Landscape Research Record.