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Working within an urban laboratory.


Exploring the intersections between the grassroots, advocacy, and urban planning.

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Working within an urban laboratory.


Exploring the intersections between the grassroots, advocacy, and urban planning.


About Urb Lab

Urb Lab is a compendium of thoughts, musings, and visual explorations into our urban environment. Of greatest interest are grassroots and informal manifestations of urban planning, or those residing within civil society and the third sector, and not necessarily within the government sector. Numerous scholars and community organizers sense a shift towards third sector forms of governance, disparately terming these movements. Regardless, these movements can be sensed in the environment through overt protest, community organizing, social cues, and more subtle physical markers. Throughout this site, I document and analyze these overt and subtle markers, increasingly focusing my attention on three major topics:

Community Development

Examining the intersection of solidarity (community) and agency (development), in the spirit of Bhattacharyya's (1995; 2004) community development framework.

Urban Informality and Formality

While numerous communities, cultures, and individuals are often negatively marked as "informal", informality is seen as a mode of social transaction that any individual may enter into.

Local and National Border Studies

Understanding the power of reified territorial boundaries, not by seeing borders everywhere or seeing a 'borderless' world, but by "studying through" site.


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What's New


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What's New



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Blog // Latest Post

The nature of extraterritoriality is examined within the context of the U.S./Mexico border. Using the case of Paso del Norte and its free trade zones, the essay studies how territory is broken and reconstituted along the increasingly militarized border.

// Read more here

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Portfolio // Latest Project

I have been quite busy in ArcGIS the past year, making maps for the dissertation and for an invited publication at the Michigan Journal of Sustainability.

// See more here

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News // In the Works

VERY EXCITING NEWS! In January 2017, I will be moving to Boulder, Colorado to become an Assistant Professor of Environmental Design at the University of Colorado-Boulder! I am very excited to join such a wonderful school and program!


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The Author


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The Author



Danielle Zoé Rivera

DOCTORAL CANDIDATE IN URBAN PLANNING

I am currently a doctoral candidate in Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Michigan, with a focus on community development and organizing, border studies, and qualitative methods. I hold a Master in Architecture from the University of Pennsylvania and a Bachelor of Architecture from The Pennsylvania State University. My current research examines community organizing practices in Texas/Mexico colonias, primarily throughout the Rio Grande Valley.

To see my Curriculum Vitae, please see this page.