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"We begin regulating ourselves and each other" Bradley Garrett on This is Hell

Matthew Schantz17 September 2013

Bradley Garrett joined host Chuck Mertz on This is Hell to discuss Garrett's forthcoming book, Explore Everything: Place-Hacking the City. Garrett discusses the political impetus and culture of urban exploration, his recent arrest, and the effects of 9/11 on urban exploration.

In one of the most poignant moments of his half-hour interview, Garrett looks at the seemingly paradoxical jump in urban exploration's popularity following 9/11. Though society became more securitized, Garrett explains, urban exploration's growing appeal:

proves is that if you want to have a secure society the way to achieve that is not to lock down your citizens and tell people what they shouldn’t do, what you want to do is enlist the citizens in the city—to get out there, to be active, to see things. If you do that, what you’ve got is a citizen body that’s activated and can actually patrol these places. That’s the way we wish things would have gone. [...] That’s what urban explorers are trying to do in one sense. To make the idea of exploring your city common sense. If you live in the wilderness, you go out an explore that environment. That’s celebrated and it’s appreciated, but in an urban environment it suddenly seems threatening. It really shouldn't be.

As in his book, Garrett doesn’t shy away from the problematic elements of his subject. When parsing the difference between urban exploration and the kind of poverty tourism that sometimes happens in places of urban deterioration like Detroit, Garrett acknowledges the fact urban explorers are relatively homogenous when it comes to gender, race, and class.

Visit This is Hell to listen to the full interview.

Filed under: interviews