In my work as a graduate student in Urban and Regional Planning (M.URP, University of New Orleans, 2000), and as an active member of the community in pre-and post-Katrina New Orleans, I have pursued a special interest in understanding and nurturing relationships between community and place.
Projects and studies include:
Black Pearl Oral History Project 1991-1994
Performed under contract to National Park Service, oral histories were conducted with senior members of this historically African American community, which was then experiencing the leading edge of advancing gentrification.
“Remembering North Claiborne: Community and Place in Downtown New Orleans” 2000
The construction of the Interstate 10 elevated expressway on North Claiborne Avenue in the mid-1960’s is seen by many in the downtown New Orleans neighborhoods of Treme and the Seventh Ward as a pivotal event in the life of their community. For many years, North Claiborne and its broad, oak-lined neutral ground served as a focus for the social, cultural and economic life of this predominantly Creole and African-American community. Submitted as a Thesis project for a Master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning, this work utilizes archival research and oral history in an effort to understand the decision-making process that led to the construction of the interstate on North Claiborne, and the impacts that decision had on the cultural and economic life of the Claiborne community.
Plessy Civil Rights Memorial Project Bywater Neighborhood, New Orleans 2002 (PROJECT)
On June 7, 1892, New Orleanian Homer Plessy was arrested after boarding a “white-only” passenger train in an effort to challenge Louisiana’s Jim Crow-era segregation laws. The ensuing decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, “Plessy v. Ferguson”, established the principle of “separate but equal” which governed federal civil rights policy for the next 60 years.
In partnership with Trapolin Landscape Architects, I was retained by the local non-profit Crescent City Peace Alliance to work with community members and students at nearby Frederick Douglass Senior High School to generate design concepts and programmatic content for the development of an educational and commemorative space on the site of Plessy’s arrest. Although our plans were not constructed, subsequent efforts led to the installation of a historical marker on the site.
Faubourg St. John Vision Plan New Orleans April 2006
In addition to participating as a community member in the series of citywide planning exercises that unfolded in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, I worked with fellow neighborhood residents to facilitate and document a series of visioning exercises for my own neighborhood, Faubourg St. John. This effort, which yielded a set of neighborhood planning priorities in the areas of housing, open space, transportation and economic revitalization, was highlighted in Coming Home to New Orleans: Neighborhood Rebuilding after Katrina, by Dr. Karl Seidman.
“The Lafitte Greenway: A Vision for the Lafitte Corridor” 2007
The Lafitte Corridor is a three mile long abandoned transportation right of way stretching through the historic heart of New Orleans. Beginning in the post-Katrina spring of 2006, I have worked as a community activist and advocate for the dedication and development of this publicly-owned tract of land as a new public open space amenity. In December, 2007, Friends of Lafitte Corridor (FOLC) published “The Lafitte Greenway: A Vision for the Lafitte Corridor”. This study, which I co-authored, explains the history of this unique parcel and outlines its potential benefits for the community in the areas of active transportation, public health and recreation, neighborhood revitalization, environmental sustainability, and cultural heritage preservation.
Between 2007 and 2009, the City of New Orleans and State of Louisiana embraced the Lafitte Greenway as an official post-Katrina recovery project, and committed over $11,000,000.00 in federal funds for design and construction of the Greenway. Planning for the project began in the summer of 2011 with Design Workshop as the lead design firm; construction was completed in 2015.
In addition to my work as a founding Board member and President of FOLC, I served as Chair of the City of New Orleans’ Lafitte Greenway Steering Advisory Committee from 2008 through 2014. In this capacity I worked to ensure that the community retained an effective voice in shaping the future of this new public space amenity.