Sign of the Times

14 Jan

Oh Sk…Who knew a kid from the 90’s could simultaneously turn back and flash forward time? He is the sign of the times. Watch out Broad St. Stephen Kennedy is on the iconic signage project hunting signs of the past to create a brighter (read: neon) Broad St. Brilliantly laid out descriptions gave business owners a vision of what could be. Of the 8 businesses we visited, my favorite response was, “Oh like the Crescent City signs? For free? That would be so cool. Can I get you lunch?”

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Next up designers…can’t wait to hear how that goes!

Conveying History

13 Jan

MarFar (The Marcie Parkhurst & Farzana Serang Team) dived into detective days to unearth the history of this building, adjacent to the lots for sale. Such. Potential. It could be many things…

But what was it? Who were the champions?

Dig with us at the conveyance office, google ain’t got nothing on this! We dug back to the 1890s, and found an interesting story of land passing from hand to hand and family to family. This building goes back to the 1920s and is a beautiful building on Broad St.

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Sometimes it’s the story that can give a vacant property the connection it needs to a community. Who is the community  champion for the House of Champions?

Who Wants Candy?

12 Jan

Check out Candy. Watch her Urban Plan. Check out her stickers. She makes you want to be Hipper. Read her at http://candychang.com/

We watched her in action.

She had neat-o ways to involve the community through art, and I think swimming through her mind would be like an acid-filled trip through Disneyland where roller coasters are streets and signs are balloons in the air.

She was (is) everywhere. From vacant storefronts all around New Orleans randomly asking walker-by’s to fill in the blanks for what buildings could be  to inflatable moons in Helinski.

You’ve gotta give her a head nod for trying to make cities more comfortable, but maybe also a shrug. I mean. O. K. This all looks cool, but it’s so portable that its hard to see a sustained connection to place that goes beyond musing.  Maybe it’s just me, but I want more types of Candy.

I want Candy that is locally grown and made at home.  Candy that doesn’t disappear at a moment’s notice. Something lasting. Candy that puts flavoring over marketing. And definitely no artificial additives.

It’s about the Community, not Candy. Locally and cooperatively owned Candy store, anyone? It’ll be organic, too, of course 😉

Help Us Learn

10 Jan

Sometimes I wonder if lessons are ever learned. Public education in the United States is rotting away. Katrina was an lethal ejection for the continued corrosion of public school, but also a touted opportunity for school reform. Where the state is at a whole, I cannot claim to fully know, but with the advent of charter school and a diminishing population many schools are hitting the waste side.

Within the Broad St. Corridor lies a historic gem: The Israel M. Augustine Building.

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A 10 minute walkthrough with The Councilor’s Real Estate consultants was to decide it’s fate. Could it be rehabbed into a school? You would think that would be a yes given the recent MIT win at the Chase Competition. But, no…it’s the real world, nothing is as simple as it should be. Lindsay Reul is on the case. Now it’s partly the task of students to gain, at the minimum, site-conrol through historical designation and restore the regality. At the same time, its about telling the story and necessity of programming that simultaneously builds skills and community that can lead to  sustianability pathways of success.

Education should be more that a prison to school pipeline and exemplify community anchors that must be strengthened.

Can NOLA lead the way?

Looking Back

7 Jan

At the point I’m writing this now it’s been almost 1 week since the project started, and it’s been a ride. A few lessons I’ve learned:

1) I don’t like sausage pizza

2) Small things are what matters (smiles, little projects, listening)

3) All I know is that I don’t know much at all (zoning, business plans, mechanics of introducing a vision)

4) It’s about asking the right questions (who benefits? how will this be implemented?)

5) Engaging communities is where it’s at for me ( i miss talking to people within the place I’m studying)

6) Beignets can make a broken day all better

Block-by-Block

6 Jan

City block for sale! All this vacant, light industrial land could be yours for a mere….$850,000…. 96,018 square feet is yours to develop. Seriously. That’s the task at hand and it’s odd how stumped I am. I know policy recommendations, strategies, fund streams, but with just three weeks, time is the enemy. I have to think small. think concrete. think p-set. think pro forma.

How would you develop this land? Who should be answering this question anyway? No way it could be me, but I guess that’s what I’ll have to do. It goes against all that I’ve known, but that’s how you learn.

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Planning 101: Plans Change

5 Jan

No matter how well I plan, or try to plan, and plan to plan, plans change once they touch the ground. Lesson learned and re-learned.

What I thought was going to be a “Strategic Revitalization Plan” assessing all the current plans in the Lafitte Corridor, mapping stakeholders, synthesizing plans, and highlighting current policy goals, is not, but still it didn’t stop me from researching some of the amazing work already going on in the area. Might as well share that with you. And to be truthful, it was too big of a goal, anyway. At least for me.

Lafitte Corridor Love Letters:

Broad Community Connections

Friends of Lafitte Corridor

Urban Conservancy

It’s good to begin with what has already been done, and I’ve just shared a few. A lot has already been visioned, planned, and reported about what to do in NOLA. Can’t wait to see how this develops into community toolkit a’la Ann-Ariel Vechhio & Alice Shay. Work it girls!