Prefatory quote ideas

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this is part of the Village Buildings book / article collection. Quotations presented in chronological order (roughly):


"Look upon the covenant: for all the earth is full of darkness, and cruel habitations." 

Psalms 74:20, as presented in The Book of Common Prayer, 1549 / 1559 / 1662). Quoted in Gauldie, Enid. (1974). Cruel Habitations: a history of working-class housing 1780-1918.


"First, the taking in of scattered particulars under one Idea, so that everyone understands what is being talked about ... Sec­ond, the separation of the Idea into parts, by dividing it at the joints, as nature directs, not breaking any limb in half as a bad carver might."

Plato, Phaedrus, 265D. (also frontispiece quote in Christopher Alexander, Notes on the Synthesis of Form, 1964).


"We all live in a state of ambitious poverty." ("Hic vivimus ambitiosa paupertate omnes").

   —Juvenal‬, Satires. (early 2nd century AD).


"Pray to God, but row towards shore." 

     —Russian proverb.


Alis volat propriis ("One flies by one's own wings").

motto of U.S. state of Oregon. Its refers to the 1843 vote by Oregon Country settlers at the third Champoeg Meeting to form a provisional government independent of the United States and Great Britain.


"Housing in the twentieth century has been one continuing emergency." 

Charles Abrams, The Future of Housing. 1946. 


"What the poor need is not charity but capital, not caseworkers but co-workers. And what the rich need is a wise, honorable way of divesting themselves from their overabundance."

   —Millard Fuller, founder of Habitat for Humanity, in 1968 letter to Koinonia Farm community, proposing HfH. [quoted in Stevens & Swisher, Community Self-Help Housing Manual, published by Habitat for Humanity in 1982].


"Distrust all claims for 'one true way.'"

    Unix "Rule of Diversity", in e.g. E.S. Raymond, The Art of Unix Programming, 2003. 


"Liminality (from the Latin word for threshold) is a term..for a variety of states of passage, through which designated members of a given culture travel at specified times...Because they occupy no fixed status in the liminal state, they are considered ambiguous beings--even dangerous--and their presence is subject to ritual regulation. Special precautions are taken to separate them from ordinary social life...[Liminal states] share a suspension of the commonplace; intermingling with unfamiliar others in strange settings; and a heightened sense of uncertainty, of things being unfinished and in process.  Although liminal passages are usually undertaken in well-mapped territory from which the voyager is expected to return, occasionally the process stalls....We will argue that what unites the phenomena gathered up in the term homelessness is liminality (resolved or stalled) and abeyance gone awry." 

— from Kim Hopper & Jim Baumohl. "Redefining the Cursed Word: A Historical Interpretation of American Homelessness." in [Baumohl 1996].


"Let us capture a piece of fallow ground if necessary and hold it for ourselves... for doesn't the Bible say that the earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof?" 

 —Jack Tafari, "We Need a Tent City." Street Roots, Portland, Oct 2000.


"Very soon now we shall pitch the tents of Joshua on various sites around the city. We are blessed here in Oregon with ample public land and so there is space if not a place for us to go. We must build that place for ourselves. Know that the kernel of the future lies buried in the present. It is important for the future how we set up and govern our camps now." 

 —Jack Tafari. "The Future." Street Roots, Dec 2000.


"One of the several strange and unanticipated results of this [cultural studies] movement has been the transformation of Gramsci's remark on 'pessimism of the intellect and optimism of the will' into a virtual law of human nature...A powerful inhibitor to action was [/is] the inability to come up with an alternative to the Thatcherite doctrine that 'there is no alternative'... The inability to find an 'optimism of the intellect' with which to work through alternatives has now become one of the most serious barriers to progressive politics." (p.17).

David Harvey, in Spaces of Hope, 2000.


"In the broadest sense, the goal of urban planning is to facilitate communication." 

     —Carl Abbott, PhD, Professor & Chair, College of Planning & Public Health, Portland State University. (ca 2004). Used as prefatory quote in 2004 "Dignity Village Proposal, 2004-" by Dignity Village Council and City Repair Project. 


"Portland continues to stand out as the progressive example of a municipality embracing alternative types of housing for homeless persons."

Lynne Dearborn & Abbilyn Harmon. "Tent Cities." In The Encyclopedia of Housing, 2nd Edition, 2012.


Villages / tent cities are "simultaneously the most and the least radical response to a disturbing crisis."

Max Rameau, Take Back the Land, quoted in [Lutz 2015].


"This activity...to retrofit the monoculture and mono-use parcels of many of these older neighborhoods could be the DNA to in fact rethink land use and ultimately housing models....The future of the city at this moment of crisis depends less on buildings, and more on the reconfiguration of social and economic relations. I think there is a huge potential that Outside In, the agencies that are so progressive, in cities equally progressive as Portland, can begin to lead the way in reimagining what we mean by housing." 

 —Teddy Cruz, 2012 Visiting Professor at PSU CPID, on OPB Think Out Loud [Blanchard 2012].


"Ironically, tent cities, though they must be eliminated if a just city is to arise, provide the model: as a taking of land, as a non-commodified and cooperative form of property and social relations, as (potentially) an organization space, tent cities, and their progenitors like the hobo jungle, have much to teach us [about what it will take to create a city that does not express the limits of capital but overcomes them]."

Don Mitchell, in "Tent Cities: Interstitial Spaces of Survival" 2013, & (with section inside [ ] added, in Mean Streets: Homelessness, Public Space, and the Limits of Capital 2020.


“We must make bottom-up solutions viable. The homeless must become an answer to their own prayers; as long as top-down solutions are preferred, the homeless will never get what they want; they’ll never get people to understand.”

G.W. Rolle, Community Leader, St. Petersburg, FL. quoted in 2014 "Welcome Home" report from NLCHP. [NLCHP 2014]. 


"I want a left that can operate on all scales."

  —Daniel Immerwarh, author of Thinking Small: The United States and the Lure of Community Development (2015).

"As an outreach worker for Portland nonprofit JOIN, Lio Alaalatoa spends his evenings patrolling the streets, stopping any time he sees a chance to make contact with someone the rest of society has forgotten. Alaalatoa is from Samoa, and has worked for Portland's JOIN for 18 years.

'When I’m out here, it doesn’t really feel like work,' he says from the driver’s seat, one hand on the steering wheel and the other poised to wave to familiar faces. 'It’s like I’m back home. Back home, you’d go out at night and just talk to anybody who was hanging out in the village.'

“'When I go home now and tell people about what I do for a living, they don’t understand,' he said. 'They don’t understand the basic concept of homelessness. They ask me, ‘What about their families?’”

— from Griffin, Anna. "Lio Alaalatoa spends nights on the streets, handing out food, water, blankets — and hope." with photography by Thomas Boyd. The Oregonian, January 31, 2015. https://www.oregonlive.com/projects/portland-homeless/join.html.


"All economies are mining boom towns on one time scale or another. All cities are tent-cities."

Lyman Stone, March 17, 2016. quoted by Sonja Trauss (founder, SF YIMBY)


"Oregon is emerging as a testing ground for a new approach to solving the nationwide shortage of affordable housing." 

The Wall Street Journal, October 2019. [Parker 2019]. 


"I'm just one of those people that's always on the move, not always willingly. That's just how my life has gone."

Naida Lavon, quoted in "For Portland, Ore., Woman, Home These Days Is Where She Parks Her Minivan," by Nellie Gilles, All Things Considered, June 23, 2020.



Colin Ward on J.F.C. Turner / Turner's Laws.

J.F.C. Turner 

William Morris

John Brinckerhoff Jackson