With a lot of heart and great momentum, last night marked the wrap-up of the LISC Disaster Recovery Target Areas Public Process. The process began months ago, when residents, businesses, and CDCs from four areas (9 Superneighborhoods) were invited to identify “nodes of opportunity” within their communities. This process was sparked by devastations from the 2008 Hurricane Ike that left many homes in a state of dilapidation and struggling communities in further disarray. Four areas, Acres Homes, Independence Heights, Northside Village/Fifth Ward/Denver Harbor/Magnolia Park, and OST/South Union/Sunnyside/South Park will be receiving HUD funds ($151 million) to make home repairs and redevelop areas that will generate further investment, and ultimately move them towards a more vibrant community.
Through a series of public workshops and charrettes, community members were able to voice their opinion about concerns within their community, their priorities for the future, and most importantly, their assets. There were also great discussions about forming more unity among organizations, looking past self-interests for the greater interests of the neighborhood and community organizing for the benefit of future generations. Not all of it was future visioning, however. These workshops were also an opportunity for community members to better understand concepts of market readiness, economic viability, and the inner workings of a planning process. Members then put their lessons into action, putting pen to paper and mapping out their ideas. While much is still ambiguous about future plans, the transparency of the process has communities percolating with ideas and a desire to be a part of the changes. The night ended with very positive vibes and it will be exciting to see the results that will generate shortly, and long-term.
Zakcq is just back from teaching a 10 day urban planning studio with students from Texas Southern University, Huazhong University of Science and Technology and Wuhan University. The studio examined a historic area of Wuhan, a city of 9 million in central China, centered around a historic rail station that served as the terminus of China’s first rail line.
The students were encouraged to use a mix of Chinese and American planning methods. During the day of field work, the students sat down with community members and discussed their lifestyles, needs and desires. Many of the study area residents live in traditional Lifang, or small alley houses. Many residents were retired and had lived in their homes for many, many years. Residents spoke of missing key amenities, including running water and kitchens, but also spoke of the organization of the neighborhood, knowing their neighbors and loving being so close to all of life’s necessities. Finding ways to provide the needs of residents while also providing modern amenities became one of the key themes of many of the projects.
While in Wuhan, Zakcq was also invited to give a lecture on the practice of public participation, drawing on examples from Pruitt-Igoe Now and the Washington Avenue Livable Centers projects. Entitled Empowering Planning: A People-Centered Approach, the lecture focused on the the key ways to help give community members a stake in shaping the kind of environments they’d like to live in.
The five teams of students put together wonderful projects. The final results of the studio will be published later this year.
The Houston Asian Chamber of Commerce has selected its 22nd Annual Awards winners: Keiji Asakura receives the Outstanding Professional Award! Keiji will be presented with his award at this year’s Gala, the theme, “The Spirit of Entrepreneurship.”
the newest member of the ARC family. At least, I think that’s Adam. It’s hard to tell but either way it’s a good representation of one of Adam’s passions: White Water Rafting!
Adam describes himself as curious by nature (just how long can he hold hisbreath underwater?), dependable (aka, skilled in resuscitation techniques), self-motivated (can paddle himself to safety even after everyone else falls overboard), and a problem solver (aka: “big water” enthusiast).
You probably won’t see Adam white water rafting down Buffalo Bayou, but you will find him knitting urban planning and landscape design solutions together at the ARC office. With Masters degrees from Auburn University in Community Planning and Landscape Architecture, Adam is the missing piece of the ARC puzzle. With a perspective from both angles he can see the advantages of the two disciplines within one project, and help ARC serve the client in the most efficient and meaningful way possible.
Welcome to the eight-man raft, Adam.
Team Asakura (Keiji and Hayley), joined a huge group of fund-raising walkers to support The Woods Project, a non-profit organization that seeks to develop leadership capacity and life skills in low income youth through a series of outdoor education/environmental awareness programs at wilderness sites in the United States.
Michelle Obama’s new book, America Grown: The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America, features the 611 Walker Container Gardens, known as City Gardens, instigated by Keiji Asakura.
“For years, the only thing outside the Bob Lanier Public Works Building in Houston, Texas, was concrete. That changed in June 2010, when landscape architect Keiji Asakura, Urban Harvest director Mark Bowen, and Laura Spanjian, Houston’s director of sustainability, joined together to establish a container garden in the heart of the city’s downtown.” See more in the image below…
Posted in Hayley's ramblings
Tagged beautification, community garden, Downtown, food, friends, Gardening, Houston, keiji, tactical urbanism, urban agriculture, volunteer
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