The Beirut Blast: A Week On
As we write this short reflection, the Beirut Port’s August 4, 2020 explosion still runs deep shockwaves through every one of us. We are just beginning to absorb the unmeasurable losses that have fallen on our city and its people. Some 2,700 tons of Ammonium Nitrate were callously stored in a port hangar, in close vicinities of residential neighborhoods, for six years. It happened with the full knowledge of successive port authorities, customs’ officials, and many other public officials (and unofficials). They detonated as if to announce the resounding end of an era: Lebanon’s post-civil war corrupt order could not have gone down peacefully. Almost a week later, the city is mourning its dead, young and old, while most rescue teams are discontinuing their efforts to locate the remaining missing people.
The Beirut Urban Lab: Adding an Anchor to the Ecosystem of Urban Change
We launch the website of the Beirut Urban Lab at a time when everything around us is in peril. Thirty years after the presumed end of the civil war, Lebanon is drowning under the overlapping weights of a global health pandemic, a severe financial crisis, and the devastating failure to put in place a just and viable national recovery. Indeed, things are on the verge of total collapse. Even urban life, the stage of our actions and the substance of our research, appears unsettled. Images of apocalyptically empty streets and ghost towns are certain to inform the future collective memories of these times. Still, they are interrupted by outbursts of protests, as people in Beirut and elsewhere reaffirm their demands to live in dignity and justice, and to be free of discrimination.