UEP Colloquium: Disaster Planning in New Orleans Lower 9th Ward
| February 4, 2016 | 2:48 pm | Colloquium | No comments

On the kickoff event of UEP’s spring colloquium series, Ken Reardon, professor of Urban Planning and Community Development at UMass Boston gave a compelling talk about planning the redevelopment and ultimately the protection of the Lower 9th Ward in post-Katrina New Orleans. The story begins with the president of Cornell University (where Reardon had been an associate professor at the school of Architecture, Art, and Planning at the time) striking up a conversation and forging a friendship with the president of Tulane University, offering to exchange a favor if the need should ever arise.

Fast forward to Hurricane Katrina in September, 2005, and $150 billion of damage and destruction led to an assessment by the Urban Land Institute that resulted in the “green dot map” which slated many neighborhoods and most of the Lower 9th Ward for a future as green space. The many communities that lived there, mostly poor people of color, were told that building permits would not be awarded and the area was at too much risk of future flooding for any kind of redevelopment after the Katrina disaster. In reaction to this, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) started collecting information that seemed to conflict with ULI’s assessment. The people of New Orleans began to think about taking Cornell up on its offer.


Katrina Flooding and Elevation Maps, http://pdxscholar.library.pdx.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1085&context=usp_fac

Despite some hesitation from Cornell AAP, an energized student body convinced the school and department to devote time and resources to studying the redevelopment of New Orleans and specifically the Lower 9th Ward. Reardon taught a course in fall 2005 on the history of planning and policy in New Orleans, followed by a student led winter trip to assist in cleaning and gutting some of the city’s most devastated neighborhoods. Working together with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the Earth Institute at Columbia University, and the University of Catania in Italy, they formed a partnership with ACORN to conduct policy-oriented studios and create an internship program for the city’s redevelopment. The ACORN/university team responded to an RFP for the redevelopment of a city that had almost no relevant existing data due to the extent of the destruction, a huge diaspora population that would likely need to be surveyed, and needed a hugely complicated inter-institutional team of planners and developers, but their plan was accepted and they were put into a supervisory position over much more established firms.

The outcome of the study was a stark contrast with that of ULI. They found most of the Lower 9th Ward to be fully suitable for redevelopment at a reasonable cost. Despite pushback from the city establishment and the American Institute of Certified Planners, including a complete revocation of funding and insurance, the ACORN/university partnership completed their report ahead of the competition and presented it to a massive audience of neighborhood residents, news outlets, city officials, FEMA, state representatives and more. The next day, headlines across the globe read “Planners Say 9th Ward Can Be Redeveloped” and focused on the importance community engagement in their analysis. Today, according to Reardon, approximately 65% of residents of the Lower 9th Ward have returned and the feel of the neighborhood is back to its former vibrancy, though it has definitely changed. Reardon stressed the importance of their high quality analysis, qualitative resident interviews, and grassroots community organizing in producing a report and feasible plan that reflected the needs of the people. The report, titled “A People’s Plan for Overcoming the Hurricane Katrina Blues” can be found here.


China in Latin America: Seeking a Path Toward Sustainable Development

Rebecca Ray, a fellow at the Global Economic Governance Initiative at Boston University, spoke to the weekly Tufts environmental science Lunch and Learn about her research on the social impacts of Chinese investment in Latin American development. The two main questions in Ray’s research are:

  1. Has China been an independent driver of environmental and social change in the region?
  2. Do Chinese investors have different behavior from their international peers?

These questions were answered through a series of eight case studies of Chinese investment in different countries and industries from oil extraction in Colombia and mining in Bolivia to soybean agriculture in Brazil.

Findings show that China has been an independent driver of environmental and social change by quickly meeting most local standards with the right oversight. There has also been an effect of developers pushing governments to lower their environmental and social standards for resource extraction, so there are crucial roles for Latin American government officials and civil society to protect the environment and the people who reside in and alongside it. Luckily, in most cases the “pollution haven” model does not apply as Latin American countries tend to have higher standards than China.

Figure 1 below, from Ray and the Global Economic Governance Institute’s paper “China and Latin America: Lessons for a South-South Cooperation and Sustainable Development,” shows China’s share of Latin American exports over time, illustrating China’s increasing power in the region.

Figure 6 from the same publication shows the average environmental impacts of exports to China as compared with all exports, showing a much higher ecological footprint for Chinese exports. This doesn’t even cover the effect of the roads created for development projects. Every dam, mine and railway project must first build roads to deliver supplies. Once roads are built, according to Ray, new towns are developed along them that further deplete natural resources, totally separate from the extractive industry for which the roads were initially built.

Jobs generated due to exports to China are illustrated in Figure 5 below, which has been decreasing over time.

The map below demonstrates the fine line these developments must (but often don’t, especially without proper oversight) straddle between areas of immense and protected biodiversity, lands occupied by indigenous peoples, and a state’s desire for outside investment into its eonomy.

Luckily, according to Ray, Chinese investors in development are often better behaved than their peers when high environmental standards are enforced. Latin American governments have a responsibility for holding extractive industries accountable, as showcased by a lawsuit against Sinopec (a Chinese petroleum and chemical corporation) in Colombia in which the judge placed much of the blame on regulators for ineffective oversight. In cases of strong and effective oversight, regulations were followed successfully with minimal protest from surrounding communities. Pushback from civil society, as seen below, is a logical outcome when government can’t always be held accountable. This in particular when, in times of economic slowdown, governments will tend to loosen environmental regulations to spur increased investment.

Ray’s talk closed out with recommendations to Latin American governments, the Chinese government, and Chinese development banks: Don’t erode environmental safeguards, prioritize dialogue with civil society, train investors in development behavior that complies with international standards, and learn from previous experience.


Community Development Student Project: Cleveland, OH
| January 15, 2016 | 3:36 pm | student papers | Comments closed

More Than A Utopian Vision: Cooperative Business Models That Work

This post is an adaptation of a project by UEP student Lylee Rauch-Kacenski for Professor Lorlene Hoyt’s course on Community Development, Planning and Politics.

You like shopping at food cooperatives and have heard of housing cooperatives, but how much of a difference can a single laundry facility, greenhouse or solar company really make? The reality is that a cooperative business is more than just revenue; it is a vote for what an alternative reality can look like; a living example of who benefits when we work together towards a common goal and vision. The problems we face as a society are daunting. Poverty, crime, unemployment and lack of safe affordable housing are all too common in many of our communities. Change can feel impossible when the problems are complicated and ingrained by years of policy, divestment in neighborhoods, and changes in economics. Through cooperatives, businesses that are owned and run by their workers, we can start to chip away at some of the problems affecting our neighborhoods and cities.


One particularly interesting case study of how key players in a community can come together to work on any issue from all sides is Greater University Circle in Cleveland, Ohio. Cleveland represents a typical post-industrial city. Once thriving with steel mills and the oil industry, it has been steadily declining since its peak in the1950’s and is searching for a new economic vision and place in the country. In this blog, we will dive in to the story of the Evergreen Cooperatives in Cleveland. Community developers and anchor institutions, nonprofits who are established in an area and likely will not leave such as hospitals and universities, came together to envision how they could help their city and residents thrive. One of the areas they focused on was developing high paying, quality jobs for the residents of the neighborhoods surrounding their institutions.

The area of Cleveland known as Greater University Circle is home to three anchor institutions: Case Western Reserve University, University hospitals and the Cleveland Clinic, 5 neighborhoods, and cultural institutions including the Cleveland Museum of Art and the Cleveland Orchestra. Despite these institutions and hub of culture, Greater University Circle (henceforth referred to as The Circle) remains an impoverished area with an average salary of $18,500 a year. In 2005 the anchor institutions of The Circle, the Cleveland Foundation and other key advocates for community development came together to strategize how they could use their influence to help transform the area.

The Greater University Circle Initiative (GUCI) was formed to address challenges in the area and determine steps to improve the greater community of the Circle. The two basic values of the initiative were that “by working together, anchor institutions can achieve more than any single institution working on its own” and “while physical development is important to revitalization, neighborhoods cannot succeed unless the people living there are valued and empowered.”[1] The four strategy areas include institutional partnership, physical development, economic inclusion and community engagement. I will focus specifically on how GUIC addressed the issue of economic inclusion.

Together the three anchor institutions have a purchasing power of $3 billion a year, the majority of which is used to purchase goods produced outside the city. Together they devised a plan to create mutually beneficial industries in the neighborhood, creating jobs in the immediate area and keeping the money expended by the institutions within The Circle. An innovation that came from that plan is the Evergreen Cooperative Initiative. Created in 2008 as a way to build wealth as well as jobs in the community, the Cooperative network has three employee-owned, for-profit, green business in the area.

The Evergreen Cooperative Laundry was started to provide laundry services for the hospitals, nursing homes, hotels and restaurants in the area that had been sending their laundry to outside providers outside the area. The Cooperative is certified as highly sustainable by the Green building Council and implements an environmentally friendly approach and uses less heat and water than conventional laundry methods. Evergreen Energy Solutions is a solar company that designs, installs, and develops solar panel arrays in the Cleveland area. The newest Cooperative, Green City Growers is a 3.25-acre hydroponic greenhouse that will produce about three million heads of lettuce and three hundred thousand pounds of herbs a year. Hydroponic vegetables are grown without soil, using water and mineral nutrients. The method helps to eliminate soil erosion and runoff typical of industrial agriculture. Green City Growers focus is on growing lettuce and herbs primarily for the institutions in the Circle area.

As always, there are gaps between the ideals, values, and long-term vision of a business and the day to day realities. Many studies on Evergreen were completed after the first year and there have been some fundamental changes since then. The Evergreen Cooperative Corporation (ECC) governs the cooperatives and the Evergreen Business Services (EBS) maintains functionality through everyday support services. The cooperatives have made substantial management changes since they first started because of challenges balancing the businesses. There have been significant accomplishments credited to plans developed in 2013 when the ECC actively worked to identify gaps and weaknesses (Austrian, Ziona 14).

According to the 2014 Greater University Circle Initiative “Year 4 Report,” the cooperatives employ 84 people, 41 of which are employee owners. When the cooperatives started, each worker was hired for a six-month trial period, after which they could become a part owner of the business. Due to the request of employees there has been a shift from using the term “worker-owner” to “member” in order to better reflect the members’ rights and responsibilities in the organization. The trial period to become a member has shifted from six months to a year per request of the members. In 2014, two of the co-ops were able to distribute profits to their employees for the first time. By vote, the members decided “to distribute profits to all workers, not only those that are already owner-workers, which boosted employee morale significantly” (Austrian, Ziona 16). New support programs have also been initiated to help employees purchase automobiles and homes in the area.

The cooperatives have made vast strides in each of their businesses since their founding. I will briefly discuss some of the highlights in each company. The Evergreen Cooperative Laundry (ECL) has 39 employees and had its first profitable year in 2014. One highlight included the acquisition of University Hospitals as a new client, increasing the cooperative’s profitability. The Evergreen Energy Solutions had 8 employees in 2013 and is now up to 14. It expanded from installing solar panels to converting older lighting systems to LED lighting, doing general construction and housing rehabilitation. Green City Growers, the newest cooperative, has 31 employees. The Cooperative has started selling directly to grocery stores and restaurants in addition to its wholesale accounts, and has a booth at a local market. Green City Growers is not yet a profitable business, but is tweaking its model to achieve that goal. One shift includes using 60% of the space to grow basil, a more profitable crop than lettuce.

The current Minimum wage in Cleveland is $8.10. In 2013 the average hourly wage for the Growers was $10.64, Laundry was $11.34 and Energy Solutions was $15.65. According to the MIT Living Wage Calculator, the hourly living wage for one adult is $9.61 and for one adult and one child is $20.17. In 2014 statistics the wages had decreased slightly but are still higher than the living wage calculation. According to videos on Evergreen’s websites, employees generally seem positive about being a part of the cooperatives, grateful to have jobs in the area and be invested in the cooperative model.

Cooperatives are not utopia, a fantasy land where everything is perfect. They take a lot of hard work, but it’s that kind of investment in a model that supports people, and includes many voices and input from all owners, that moves forward the ideas of how a job can be more than just a paycheck, and a neighborhood can be more than just a collection of people. No business or approach to solving problems in our communities is 100% successful, but the Evergreen Cooperatives is an encouraging model of what the future of business could look like.

[1] http://www.evgoh.com/e2s/solar-energy/, http://www.evgoh.com/ecl/facility/, http://www.evgoh.com/business-services/

Austrian, Ziona; Hexter, Kathryn W.; Clouse, Candi; and Kalynchuk, Kenneth, “Greater University Circle Initiative: Year 4 Evaluation Report” (2015). Urban Publications. Paper 1288. http://engagedscholarship.csuohio.edu/urban_facpub/1288

Evergreen Cooperatives. Accessed October 1, 2015. Available from http://evergreencooperatives.com

Living Wage Calculator for Cuyahoga County, Ohio. Accessed October 1, 2015. Available from http://livingwage.mit.edu/counties/39035

The Cleveland Foundation. Accessed October 1, 2015. Available from http://www.clevelandfoundation.org

Wright, Walter; Hexter, Kathryn; and Clouse, Candi, “Lessons From the Cleveland Integration Initiative” (2014). Urban Publications. Paper 1242.


Other Resources:






Community Development Student Project: Sibu Malaba on Lawrence, MA
| December 14, 2015 | 2:55 pm | student papers | Comments closed

Emerging from the Shadows of the “City of the Damned”

This post is an adaptation of a project by UEP student Sibu Malaba for Professor Lorlene Hoyt’s course on Community Development, Planning and Politics.

Located approximately 30 minutes north of Boston, nestled between the Essex County towns of Methuen and Andover, sits the city of Lawrence, Massachusetts. Established in the 1840s, Lawrence is known for many historical contributions including the early American textile industries, which set the stage for the labor movement (Bread and Roses Strike of 1912), and for being home to Pulitzer Prize winning poet, Robert Frost.

Lawrence, also known as the “Immigrant City”, maintains a unique history as “a multi-ethnic and multicultural gateway city for foreign-born residents, including the Irish, French Canadians, Englishmen, and German factory workers in the late 1800s; Italians, Poles, Lithuanians, and Syrians in the early 1900s; and Puerto Ricans and Dominicans in the mid to late 1900s; and the city’s newest arrivals of Vietnamese and Cambodians residents”[1].

Lawrence Mills (Photo credit: Essex County Community Foundation)

Lawrence Mills (Photo credit: Essex County Community Foundation)

After World War II, the departure of the city’s manufacturers resulted in the city’s transition from a former thriving region to one of the most marginalized municipalities in Massachusetts. As more and more factories closed, the former economic epicenter would be confronted with the loss of major employers, limited city resources, and stigmatism from neighboring towns, as characterized in Lorlene Hoyt and Andre Leroux’s, Voices of Forgotten Cities:

“The centripetal forces that once pulled people, resources, and businesses in [to the city] and created a rich density of urban civic life weakened over decades against a backdrop of national economic restructuring, changing technologies, and shifting government policy”[2].

Reflecting on Lawrence’s highs and lows remains personal for me, because it is the city I called home for the first 20 years of my life. My family moved to Lawrence in 1990 shortly after my sister and I were born. My mother and father, who immigrated to the United States from Kenya and Zimbabwe respectively, attended the nearby University of Massachusetts at Lowell campus. Like many other young, immigrant families, they sought Lawrence because of the affordable housing opportunities the city had to offer. Growing up in Lawrence was normal for me, despite being enveloped by many of the environmental impacts commonly associated with low-income cities.

Friends and I during my Arlington School graduation

Friends and I during my Arlington School graduation


Lawrence High School Pep Rally

Lawrence High School Pep Rally

From the 1990s to early 2000s, Lawrence’s trajectory seemed stagnant. The Lawrence Public Schools system was underperforming, teen pregnancy and youth violence remained high, city resources were low and local government faced growing accusations of corruption. All of these outcomes pushed my family to move from Lawrence in 2004. Though we were no longer residents, we remained affected by the unforgiving accounts of the city we loved. For example, in 2012, Boston Magazine profiled Lawrence in a piece titled, “City of the Damned”. In it, author Jay Atkinson wrote:

“Times  are hard in the state’s poorest city. The mayor is under federal and state investigation for campaign-finance improprieties and other questionable behavior, while a state-appointed overseer is managing the city’s municipal budget. Lawrence’s public school system is in receivership — the former superintendent, Wilfredo Laboy, is under criminal indictment for fraud and embezzlement, and the high school dropout rate is more than 50 percent. Public-safety cuts have been drastic, and felony crimes have skyrocketed from 1,777 in 2009 to 2,597 during the first 11 months of 2011. Unemployment is as high as 18 percent, compared with the state average of less than 7 percent. With 76,000 people squeezed into 6.93 square miles, violent crime on the rise, and a public school system that’s the worst in the state, the once-proud “Immigrant City” has become an object lesson in how to screw things up”[3].

Lawrence residents protest Boston Magazine headquarters following  “The City of the Damned” publication (Photo credit: WBUR)

Lawrence residents protest Boston Magazine headquarters following “The City of the Damned” publication (Photo credit: WBUR)

But even in Lawrence’s most trying time, hope remained. Over the past decade or so, residents who stayed in the city or made their way back would go on to lead a series of successful community development initiatives aimed at redefining what it means to come from Lawrence. Hoyt and Leroux describe this shift, “In changing dysfunction to function, the collective, cumulative impact of hundreds of small but better decisions are revealed to be ultimately more powerful than the big project, the big investment, or the ‘silver bullet’ strategy”, which they dub “innovative revitalization coalitions”[4].

Real community development was beginning to happen in the city. As Lawrence native and former executive director of Lawrence CommunityWorks, William “Bill” Traynor illustrates, “I would describe our network in Lawrence not as an organization but as a bundle of thinking language habits, value propositions space and practice all designed to comprise an environment that effectively meet people where they are and offers myriad opportunities and levels of engagement”[5].

Examples of this type of community building include:

  • Community development corporations (CDC), Lawrence CommunityWorks, Inc. and Groundwork Lawrence teamed up to launch “The Reviviendo Gateway Initiative (RGI)”, which was a neighborhood-based planning group which combined both organizations’ planning and organizing expertise to create a 15-year large-scale development master plan with the backing of local residents. Today, many aspects of the RGI visionary plan have been implanted or underway. http://www.lawrencecommunityworks.org/ http://www.groundworklawrence.org/
  • With the assistance of federal Community Service Block Grants, the Greater Lawrence Community Action Council, Inc. has launched a 3-year Community Action Plan that aims to fill service gaps in Lawrence as identified by community-driven needs assessments. Through the Community Action Plan, GLCACI is incrementally addressing issues of immigration, underemployment, and affordable housing access in Lawrence. http://www.glcac.org/
  • Arlington Community Trabajando (ACT) is a CDC created following the 1995 Malden Mills factory fire in Lawrence’s Arlington neighborhood, which resulted in the loss of 3,000 local jobs. ACT works to revitalize the 11-block neighborhood, which maintains the “highest concentration of residents living in poverty in the city”. Since its launch, ACT has helped improve opportunities for more than 900 families through business development, financial literacy education, foreclosure prevention counseling, and homeownership education. http://actinc.org/

    The former Malden Mills factory  (Photo credit: Oak Ridge National Laboratory)

    The former Malden Mills factory (Photo credit: Oak Ridge National Laboratory)

  • Located in the center of downtown Lawrence, El Taller Café and Bookstore provides residents with an open space for creativity and community building. El Taller provides an environment for residents to exchange ideas and build community through neighborhood discussions, workshops, and art showcases. http://eltallerarts.com/
  • The Greater Lawrence Young Professionals Network (GLYPN) is a membership organization created “to attract, retain, and engage young professionals in the Greater Lawrence area”. After graduating college, a group of young professionals returned to Lawrence and were alarmed by the lack of social and professional development opportunities that exist in the city. GLYPN addresses this need by offering leadership development training, networking opportunities, and fun social activities that help support businesses in the greater Lawrence area. http://www.glypn.org/

In Lawrence, community development means “accepting the city’s new reality while fully recognizing the potential [its] many assets (proximity to larger cities, walkable downtowns and neighborhoods, historic mills and churches, affordable housing opportunities and cultural amenities)”[6]. Lawrence residents are embodying the principles of community development by working together to organize around pressing neighborhood issues. Lawrencians are becoming empowered citizens and demonstrating such by buying homes, opening small businesses, leading neighborhood projects, and seeking public office.

Today, the city is steadily moving beyond its turbulent past and rebranding itself as a city of opportunity. Lawrence’s rebirth is a great example of how communities can work collectively to change their realities. I could not be more proud of my city and look forward to its future as the community development work continues. I am also confident in the new Lawrence leaders who remain resilient in their efforts towards progress. Fellow Lawrencians like Mayor Dan Rivera, Pavel Payano, Marcos Devers, Luisa Pena, Wilnelia Rivera, Lydia and Flor Maldonado, Jessica Valentin, Frank Moran, Kendrys Vasquez, Abel Varges, and countless others make me excited for what is to come in Lawrence.

“If Lawrence is a city of the damned, it is the damned hardworking, the damned hopeful and the damned resilient” –Lawrence Mayor Daniel Rivera (then Lawrence City Council President)

[1] City of Lawrence, http://www.cityoflawrence.com/about-the-city.aspx

[2] Lorlene Hoyt and Andre Leroux, Voices of Forgotten Cities (Cambridge, 2007), 23

[3] Jay Atkinson, “City of the Damned,” Boston Magazine http://www.bostonmagazine.com/2012/02/city-of-the-damned-lawrence-massachusetts/

[4] Lorlene Hoyt and Andre Leroux, Voices of Forgotten Cities (Cambridge, 2007), 17

[5] Bill Traynor, “The Community Builder” The Community Development Reader (New York, 2005), 217

[6] Lorlene Hoyt and Andre Leroux, Voices of Forgotten Cities (Cambridge, 2007), 46

“Making College Square” Field Project 2015 Wins APA MA Award
| December 10, 2015 | 2:47 pm | Student Awards, student papers, Tufts | Comments closed

UEP Students Betsy Byrum, Nathaniel Fink, Rayn Riel, and Xiang Yu were awarded the APA-MA Chapter Student Project Award for their 2015 Field Project. The project, “Making College Square: Leveraging Public Transportation for a Safer and Greener Campus,” undertakes a study of the opportunities for transit oriented development associated with the MBTA’s Green Line Extension through Somerville and Medford. The team conducted an on campus planning charrette, which was covered in a previous blog post last year.

Proposed Green Line Extension

Proposed Green Line Extension

The report focuses on planning the College Ave stop, located on Tufts Campus:

Site of College Ave Station

Site of College Ave Station

The team made recommendations to the Tufts Campus Planning Office and Office of Sustainability on strategies for shifting to sustainable transportation, improving safety, and building a sense of place in this new public space. The report features photos of the area to provide context and the engagement process with students and faculty.

Congratulations to the team! Next semester will see the next round of potentially award-winning Field Projects for 2016!

Visiting Scholar Maxwell Hartt on Shrinking Cities
| December 8, 2015 | 2:46 pm | Colloquium | Comments closed

Last week’s UEP colloquium welcomed Maxwell Hartt, a visiting Fulbright Scholar from the University of Waterloo’s School of Planning. Hartt’s research looks at shrinking cities and urban decline, drawing examples from Detroit and East St. Louis in the United States and Cape Breton and Chatham-Kent in Canada.

For Hartt’s purposes, a shrinking city(Pallagst, 2009, Wiechmann, 2008) is a densely populated urban area with at least 10,000 residents that has faced widespread population loss for more than two years, and is undergoing economic transformations with some symptoms of a structural crisis.

The talk began with an exercise to brainstorm possible causes for the shrinking of a city. The audience was split into groups and told to brainstorm and categorize their ideas. Common responses included de-industrialization, increased mobility of labor, globalization, white flight, aging populations, emigration of youth, low immigration, political collapse, and privatization. These drivers of shrinking cities, external and internal, lead to effects feedback and compound the issues.

Drivers of Shrinking Cities

Drivers of Shrinking Cities

Hartt’s research looks at 15 variables in Chatham-Kent and Cape Breton, Canada:

  1. Dependency Ratio (roughly the proportion of population not in labor force)
  2. Proportion aged 65+
  3. Birth Rate
  4. Death Rate
  5. Immigration Rate
  6. Emigration Rate
  7. Interprovincial Migration Rate
  8. Intraprovincial Migration Rate
  9. Non Permanent Resident Rate
  10. Unemployment Rate
  11. Employment Rate
  12. Labor Participation Rate
  13. Building Permit Rate
  14. Housing Start Rate
  15. Housing completion Rate

The diagram below shows the complex relationship between these variables leading to the shrinking of Chatham-Kent:

Some trends from this analysis show a strong connection between unemployment and decreased immigration, as well as unemployment and decreased housing construction.

In an effort to find solutions, the end of the talk focused on what planners, academics and citizens, especially those not living in shrinking cities, can do to support them. There needs to be a rethinking of how the media tends to shame declining cities, an end to shutting off services to outlying or poor communities, and a renewed preservation of cultural assets. Hartt also brought up a need to consider how new immigrants tend to move to a few major cities, and how they can be incentivized toward shrinking cities.

This was the final colloquium of the fall semester. The schedule for spring colloquia will be released in the coming weeks.

More From the UEP 2015 Loj Trip!
| December 3, 2015 | 1:53 pm | Uncategorized | Comments closed

As reported previously, eighteen UEPers made the trek up to the White Mountains last month for some hiking, camping and chili eating. We got so many great photos out of it that we felt the need to share them!

UEP Loj Group!

UEP Loj Group!

Some nice passersby offered to take this photo of the whole group.

Stopping for Lunch

Stopping for Lunch

Stopping for Lunch

Stopping for Lunch


After a quick lunch, half of the group took it easy while the more adventurous half continued on to the summit of Cannon Mountain (almost).

Getting in Touch with Nature

Getting in Touch with Nature





The general consensus was that it was too cold to go for a swim








We encountered this living birch tree which had been mostly uprooted. Despite the appearance of a shelter, we decided this was not a good solution to addressing housing shortages.


International student from Beijing, Yu “Frank” Xiang wrote about his experience at the Loj:

“On Saturday 11/7 and Sunday 11/8, I had experienced an unforgettable time with some fellows form UEP. We went to the White Mountains for hiking, and then stayed at the famous Tufts-owned Loj for a wonderful night. To me, it was a really exciting trip, and a good opportunity to immerse myself into the American students’ daily life. For example, we could share interesting things during the hiking, play games and exchange foods during the lunch break, and make a big dinner together at Loj. It was so interesting to hear other’s story and ideas, and to look at the funny items in the Loj, particularly the magnets on the refrigerator.  Generally, I liked the Loj trip very much, and hope more international students could join it next year!”

Loj Dinner

Loj Dinner

Giving What You Have: Community Development in the Washington Neighborhood, San Jose, California
| November 27, 2015 | 1:47 pm | student papers | Comments closed

This post is an adaptation of a project by students Ashley Clark and Mason Wells for Professor Lorlene Hoyt’s course on Community Development, Planning and Politics

Maria Hernandez stood up from her seat and scanned the room full of senior year Berkeley planning students. Maria’s presence was magnetic. She was the kind of person you never forget meeting and everyone in the drafty classroom was captivated by her presence. Unimpressed by these students’ presentation and first findings, she spoke passionately about her community and family. Her heartfelt dedication to Washington was immediately apparent and it became an inspiration for the students. Acutely aware of the resources and legitimacy Berkeley planning students could provide, Maria successfully rallied the group to rededicate themselves to the project. For the rest of 2014, the energized students would continue working alongside the network of neighborhood mothers known as Madre a Madre.

The Washington Neighborhood is 0.236 square miles and has a population of just over 4,000 people (City Data). Two major freeways intersect at its northwesterly corner, cutting it off from the downtown and surrounding communities. Central to the neighborhood is Washington Elementary School. It is a gathering place for not only students, but also parents and siblings. Parents view it as a safer place than nearby parks (Burga, 2015). The neighborhood is in an old part of San Jose and its housing stock is primarily single-family homes built before 1939. 59.6% of residents have less than a high school level of education.

Map Credit: City Data

Map Credit: City Data

Washington is largely a Latin@ immigrant community and many residents are undocumented.  The county’s current deportation policy reflects its history with immigrants, who have been around since at least the 1940s. (San Jose Mercury News 1948). It has declared itself a sanctuary and will not turn those who are undocumented over to the federal government. The role of the school has changed in the neighborhood from a place that instills American beliefs and culture, to one that embraces diversity. For example, the school has made it a priority to include the mothers by issuing all correspondence in Spanish and English. The school also plays a large role as public space that creates opportunities for organizations and institutions to connect with families that live and work in the neighborhood.

James DeFilippis and Susan Saegert argue that “communities are places of interdependence, even if that interdependence can be limited and not always beneficial to everyone involved” (1). In Washington this interdependence can be found in the connections between local universities, nonprofits and community-based organizations that are working as community developers. The school plays a strategic role in the coordination of these connections. For example, Santa Clara University has two programs that focus on Washington Elementary and the surrounding neighborhood. The Leavey School of Business has a program called the Neighborhood Prosperity Initiative and the Ignatian Center for Jesuit Education has its Thriving Neighborhoods program. Both programs are designed so students can gain valuable field experience while providing resources for the community . As it stands, the university, the students and the community all gain from these relationships and programs. There are not only institutions working from outside the neighborhood, but from within Washington Elementary School as well.

Photo Credit: The Friend of Washington

Photo Credit: The Friend of Washington

Madre a Madre

Madre a Madre, a weekly discussion group for mothers at Washington Elementary School, covered topics from helping students in school to working on issues of self-esteem and stress. Beronica, one of more than 40 mothers in the group, describes the many benefits she derives from her participation in this community:

Yo me siento muy contenta de tener estos programas en la Escuela Washington porque nos sirven de mucho. A mí en lo personal me ha servido asistir a las juntas de Madre a Madre porque he aprendido a como ayudar a mis hijos en sus estudios y como ser con ellos.  Todos los programas que nos han ofrecido son de mucha ayuda para saber sobre nuestros derechos.  A saber que todos los niños tienen sentimientos y que hay que saber escucharlos sobre lo que les pasa. También me ha ayudado a estar informada sobre todo lo que pasa en la escuela y mientras pueda voy a seguir viniendo para aprender y poder lograr a que mis hijos salgan adelante ya que siempre los voy a apoyar.

I feel very fortunate to have a program like this in Washington elementary because it is giving me a lot. Personally, to come to the (?) Madre a Madre meeting has helped me because I have learned how to help my kids in their studies and how to be more with them. All the programs that have been offered to us are of a great help to understand our rights. It has helped me to understand that all kids have feelings and that we need to learn to listen to them about what is happening in their lives. It has also helped me to inform myself about everything that is happening at school, and while I can, I will keep coming to learn how to help my children move forward because I will always be by their side. (translated from Spanish by Carlos Iñigo)

Photo Credit: The Friend of Washington

Photo Credit: The Friend of Washington

Yet, out of this network of mothers emerged something more than a parent support group. The women began to develop and share a deep collective understanding of their communities’ assets, as well as potential areas for community development and growth. Madre a Madre instilled confidence in the mothers to expand their work into the community. Through their collaboration with students at Berkeley, this network of deeply embedded community members would break out of a community development framework centered on education and what seemed like increasingly restrictive roles at Washington Elementary School.

The school and Madre a Madre were safe spaces that provided an outlet for the mothers to grow in their capacity and ability to define what a better Washington community meant on their own terms. It was not a university saying “We are going to conduct a workshop and help you identify your needs.” The mothers already know what they need.

DeFilippis and Saegert refer to this as collective and aggregate power, or a network. The mothers aggregated their voices and power by organizing and agreeing on a common set of goals. Currently they are in the process of starting their own organization outside of the school called Mamas Unidas. They feel this would legitimize their claims and place in the community. They built their model based on what they outlined as their common goals: creating a safe and vibrant neighborhood with access to healthy food, parks and schools.

Unlike the other organizations currently working in the neighborhood, Mamas Unidas is the only grassroots organization that puts members of the community first. The knowledge the mothers have of the neighborhood and its families is incredibly valuable and an important asset for any program that seeks to be a change agent in the community. We suggest that for community development strategies in Washington to be most effective, the mothers must partner with other active organizations .

The failure in this case is that these different pieces of the community development puzzle are not talking to each other. Democratically organized community groups growing out of community directed capacity building could leverage assets and strengthen institutional networks in coordinated support of community defined and centered development. This type of strategy centers on the voices of Washington Neighborhood residents and more specifically on the collective power of these mothers. The organizations have access the mothers’ intimate knowledge of the community, while the mothers can access programs and financial resources.


At the heart of this story is a group of mothers who care deeply about their children and community. And from that experience we learn that community development can begin by drawing connections between groups with shared interests at various levels of organization and size. The school was able to find leaders within the community and, through its association with universities and other nonprofits, became a hub for interaction and recognition that the other even exists. The next step is to develop connections and forge partnerships. This is a lesson from which other communities can learn. Understanding the fractured nature of the communication between the mothers group and outside organizations exposes areas of opportunity. There are always ways to improve communication between various groups and ways to center community development efforts around those who will be most impacted by these decisions. As one of the mothers told me, “damos lo que somos,” or “we give what we have”.


Burga, Fernando. Lecture, UC Berkeley, 2015.

Burke, Brian J., and Boone Shear. “Engaged Scholarship for Non-capitalist Political Ecologies.” Journal of Political Ecology21 (2014): 127-44. Accessed October 1, 2015.

DeFilippis, James. “Communities Develop.” In The Community Development Reader, 1-7. New York, New York: Routledge, 2008.

DeFilippis, James. “Community Building Limitations and Promise.” In The Community Development Reader, 209-219. New York: Routledge, 2008.

Noguchi, Sharon, and Patrick May. “California Won’t Turn Arrested Illegal Immigrants over to Feds.” San Jose Mercury News, October 5, 2013. Accessed October 1, 2015. http://www.mercurynews.com/immigration/ci_24249058/california-wont-turn-arrested-illegal-immigrants-over-feds.

“Washington (Guadalupe) Neighborhood in San Jose, California (CA), 95110 Detailed Profile.” Washington (Guadalupe) Neighborhood in San Jose, California (CA), 95110 Subdivision Profile. Accessed October 1, 2015.

UP3 Panel on Congestion Pricing
| November 22, 2015 | 7:45 pm | UP3 | Comments closed

Congestion Pricing: The Solution to Traffic Congestion?

UP3: Congestion Pricing

UP3: Congestion Pricing

Tufts’ undergraduate urban planning collective, UP3, coordinating with fellow sponsors in the Tufts Economics Department and Tufts Economics Society, hosted a panel of experts in urban planning and transportation from Boston and New York City to talk about congestion pricing. The event began with an overview of the Move NY Campaign by its director, Alex Matthiessen. The subsequent discussion featured input from MIT professor of transportation and urban planning Chris Zegras and Terry Regan, representing the Volpe Center and Massachusetts Transportation Finance Commission.

Move NY’s Fair Plan is a proposal to reinvest in the New York City region’s transportation system. Matthiessen claims that cities like Paris, Tokyo, London and Hong Kong have surpassed New York’s once excellent transportation system. He blames, at least partially, an inefficient system of tolling bridges and tunnels, which has led to service cuts for subway and bus service. In an interesting historical summary, Matthiessen mapped out the various bridges crisscrossing the New York metro area, noting whether or not the bridge has a toll. Because some bridges are free, traffic, and especially trucks, seek them out. This has a huge effect on traffic throughout the city as certain passages are sought out based on their lack of tolls. Move NY arose as one proposed way to ameliorate these issues, and Matthiessen contrasts it with the proposal made by then mayor Michael Bloomberg.

The Bloomberg plan disproportionately benefited Manhattan residents, who don’t have to pay a toll to enter their own borough but would benefit from the reduced traffic. In the Move NY plan, money raised by toll revenue will fund expanded and more efficient public transit systems. This revenue will come from a variant on congestion pricing, in which bridges (all bridges) charge a higher toll during rush hour, while lowering tolls on less trafficked bridges. Move NY predicts $1,345 million in revenue. Of this, $375 million will fund roads and bridges, $110 will go toward fare and operation subsidies for the MTA, $304 million will form an investment fund and be used to pay for administration, and $556 million will fund the MTA capital plan. They predict 30,500 new jobs in the region and a 15-20% faster rate of travel south of Central Park. Somehow, despite all the improvements, Move NY predicts no change in price for the vast majority of commuters.

The panel then responded to questions, which largely focused on applying lessons from Move NY to Boston. Chris Zegras cites difficulty in establishing a plan such as this in Boston, where the state has so much control over public transit compared with New York City. He also claims that a very large city would face different hurdles due to the massive investment required to implement such a plan. Boston would not face such sticker shock due to its more moderate size when compared with New York.

Terry Regan argues that there isn’t the same demand for congestion pricing in Boston. Boston’s traffic is more constrained to the highways and occurs less on the city streets compared with New York. He also brought up issues with limiting motor-vehicle traffic without providing an alternative. Since the MBTA is already at or above capacity, it would be difficult to adjust to the influx that may result from congestion pricing on Boston’s roads.

Reflections on the 2015 UEP Loj Trip: Lylee Rauch-Kacenski
| November 20, 2015 | 5:20 pm | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Prior to beginning my journey with UEP I had been living in a town of 2,030 in rural central Vermont. It took 10 minutes to walk through town, into the foothills of the Green Mountains, and quickly be engulfed in trees, pine needles underfoot, lost in thought. Since the start of school I have been absorbed in trying to keep on top of reading and research, discovering new passions within the field, and generally acclimating to an academic lifestyle.

On Saturday November 7th, 18 Tufts Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning students set out for a day of hiking and overnight at the Tufts Loj in New Hampshire. The drive to the White Mountains was a relaxing transition out of the city and into the weekend. The car ride provided a space to chat with classmates who are slowly becoming friends and compare notes about classes, assignments, research, and careers. It was at the beginning of our hike, bundled in layers of long underwear, hats and scarves, that I realized just how much I miss being in the woods. I couldn’t have articulated that I needed the space, solitude and silence that the trees and mountains provide: how the vast vistas beyond the peaks helped clear my mind and reset my core. Even while hiking with a group of people, I found the space to reconnect with a non-urban environment.

White Mountains and Lonesome Lake

White Mountains and Lonesome Lake

Between conversation with friends, picking up souvenirs of birch bark and crimson leaves, and traversing up steep passes, we slowly made our way to Lonesome Lake. Navigating our way over planks through bogs and marshes we finally arrived at the docks on the bank of the lake. There is nothing quite as satisfying as lunch after a long hike, and this day was no exception. I made the time to sit and sketch, a passion that I have ignored for the past 8 months. With rusty hand and no expectations- just the joy of being in the moment- I sketched the mountains and enjoyed bouncing in and out of conversation about yoga, food and traveling.

Lonesome Lake

Lonesome Lake



Although the trip was short, it provided enough time to reconnect with art and trees and to make deeper connections with fellow students through hiking, cooking together, setting up an unfamiliar tent in the dark, camping, s’mores, bonfires and silly games. For me the overnight was a perfect balance to the seriousness and intensity of the first semester of school and the relaxed social atmosphere outside of the classroom to get to know my cohorts even better.