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Field Trip to a Rust-Belt City: Utica

group of people posing with a statue

photo / Gianni Valenti

by Gianni Valenti B.S. URS ’22

Before making the three-hour trek from Ithaca to Utica, NY, I had many assumptions about what this trip could possibly have in store; the City of Utica simultaneously surpassed and dispelled all I had believed. Planned and hosted by the Organization of Urban and Regional Studies student group (OURS), the journey itself was one well worth the time and energy because, as a sophomore, I was not only able to further bond with my cohort, but also to get to know the new freshman class and enjoy their company as we dissected the urban fabric of this unique place.

The first stop on our excursion was the Community Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides funds for social investment and urban development. There we had the chance to take a look at a masterplan for downtown Utica that the Foundation funded. This plan detailed the unique issues of planning in a rust-belt city and how Utica is trying to rebrand its urban core. I was not only surprised with the ambition of the plan, but also intrigued by the ways in which the Community Foundation wants to advertise the future of the city. The crown jewel of Utica is The Aud, a mixed-use auditorium that not only stands as a symbol of civic pride, but is also somewhat of a beacon of hope for the city’s future. This contrasts with a great tension in the city – the hospital. During our meeting with the Community Foundation, we got a glimpse at the conversation surrounding the new hospital complex planned for downtown.

Traveling between destinations, we drove through various different zones of the city, getting a taste for the new, old, and in-between parts of Utica. Reaching downtown, we finally saw the site for the new hospital. With all the original warehouses and industrial buildings still intact, the streets and sidewalks were fenced off chain-link, covered with signs showing renderings of the new hospital. The group came face-to-face with a physical manifestation of the briefing we had received about the hospital controversy when we spotted a row of buildings with a banner reading “NO HOSPITAL DOWNTOWN” strung across their fronts. With this in mind, we continued on to our second stop.

We next visited The Aud, the official name for which is the Adirondack Bank Center at the Utica Memorial Auditorium. The Aud is more than just an entertainment venue – it is the most visited site in the city and contributes to an overwhelming feeling of civic pride. During our visit, we were guided by three personnel from The Aud’s financial and management departments and their enthusiasm for the building spoke volumes about how important this site is to Utica’s decisions in planning. Many of us came away from that visit with our eyes opened to a new form of civic engagement and placemaking surrounding sports and entertainment. I know I usually think of social gathering spaces centering more on parks and public works, but this private enterprise serves the roles of all of these spaces and more in Utica.

Our last visit was to The Center, a refugee resettlement and aid center located in Utica’s downtown. Personally, this was my favorite part of the trip because the topic of refugees and immigration is not only increasingly important in modern planning, but is also something none of my classes have touched on in a modern sense. At The Center, we were able to discuss with organization leaders just how important the refugee community is to Utica’s urban fabric and future development. Resettling between 400 and 600 refugees in the city a year, this organization assists almost all of the total immigrants to Utica. We had an active discussion regarding how to plan for these populations and meet their needs as they move to America, and specifically how Utica accommodates them. While the conversation was inspirational in terms of planning for diverse populations, it was kind of depressing when looking at Utica’s future as the current presidential administration continues to block refugees coming into the country.

Ed LeClear: Planning in University Communities: Balancing Innovation and Preservation

a downtown street lined with shops

photo / provided

Date and location: November 22, 12:20 p.m. in Abby and Howard Milstein Auditorium, Milstein Hall

Ed LeClear (M.R.P. ’10) is the planning and community development director for the borough of State College, Pennsylvania. Prior to joining the borough, LeClear was the community development director for the Cumberland County Housing and Redevelopment Authorities and a community planner with the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development. He began his career in downtown revitalization working for the Pennsylvania Downtown Center.

A native of Northeast Ohio, LeClear received his B.A. from Miami University (Ohio), a master of science in urban studies from Cleveland State University and a master of regional planning from Cornell University. LeClear is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners and provides service to the profession as a board member of 10,000 Friends of Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Municipal Planning Education Institute, and the Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Planning Association, for which he serves as chair of the legislative committee.


University communities are dynamic places for planners to apply their craft across nearly every specialty in the profession. Whether it is cutting edge climate resiliency work, economic development, multimodal transportation planning, affordable housing, or critical zoning enforcement, working as a planning professional in a college town requires that you do it all. University communities are laboratories for innovation but are also often resistant to change, particularly in terms of land use. This colloquium’s discussion will focus on specific techniques and tools being used in State College (home of the Pennsylvania State University), to balance innovation and preservation, particularly in this era of a booming purpose-built student housing market. Come for an interactive discussion with a CRP alumnus working in local government for more than 15 years (with a few scars to prove it).

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Eric Nost: Climate Services for Whom? The Political Economics of Contextualizing Climate Data in Louisiana’s Coastal Master Plan

satellite image of hurricane over the state of Louisianna

Hurricane Katrina making landfall over Louisiana in 2005. photo / NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Date and location: November 20, 4:30 p.m. in Room 115, West Sibley Hall

Eric Nost is a geographer researching how data and technology inform conservation. He draws on and contributes to the fields of political ecology, science and technology studies, and digital geographies. Nost’s most recent project followed the state of Louisiana’s efforts to simulate future wetlands loss along the Gulf Coast. Based on interviews, document surveys, and attendance at public meetings, Nost explored how bureaucrats and ecosystem scientists develop an infrastructure for modeling, build an institution and lean on technologies to learn from their simulations, and apply their findings to planning large-scale coastal restoration. Nost received a Ph.D. in geography (2018) from the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

Nost is currently an assistant professor at the University of Guelph, where he teaches classes in nature-society geography and (web) mapping, using maps to publicize hidden dimensions of environmental policy. He also participates in the Environmental Data and Governance Initiative, tracking how the U.S. federal government portrays climate change and other issues on the web. For the past several years, Nost has collaborated in an effort to collate and visualize U.S. Environmental Protection Agency data on the North American hazardous waste trade.


Adaptation planning includes contextualizing global and regional climate data within specific decision-making processes. As such, planners are increasingly interested in climate services. Climate services involve the expert production of forecasts, scenarios, economic analyses, and other data products to help users meaningfully address local changes and variabilities. For instance, in the state of Louisiana, modelers tailor 50-year storm, precipitation, and sea-level rise predictions to help planners select adaptive ecological restoration projects. Modelers do so by downscaling the data, combining it with other social and biophysical information, and framing results in terms of stakeholder interests.

In this lecture, Nost questions what it means to develop adaptation information that is geared towards specific users and stakeholders. Given the growing recognition that adaptation planning can prove maladaptive, Nost asks, when do climate services actually exacerbate existing vulnerabilities? To answer, he draws on three cases from Louisiana’s coastal Master Plan and highlights political-economic factors informing climate services: influential stakeholders, funding dynamics, the framing of planning decisions, and differential harms and benefits. Nost argues that when climate data is made relevant to existing interests, budgets, and plans, it can reproduce vulnerabilities and foreclose transformative adaptation. However, marginalized stakeholders can also pressure experts to contextualize data in ways that mitigate vulnerabilities. I conclude that climate services research and practice should expand user-centered approaches by asking climate services for whom and by assessing the winners and losers from climate variability, change, and adaptation actions themselves.

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CRP out in full force at the ACSP 2019 conference

People seated at round tables in an event space

photo / Kay Meyer Photography

The Department of City and Regional Planning (CRP) was well-represented at October’s annual conference for the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning (ACSP) in Greenville, South Carolina. CRP faculty and Ph.D. students engaged in a variety of different events, ranging from paper presentations to participation in panel discussions.

“It was inspiring and gratifying to see the significant participation by Cornell at this year’s ACSP annual meeting,” said department chair Jeffrey Chusid. “Eleven members of our faculty, as well as 11 CRP Ph.D. students, delivered presentations on their research, while a number of them and other Cornellians engaged in panels and other discussions about the future of the planning field. The intellectual life of the department is thriving.”

For Ph.D. students, the experience presenting their research to a broader audience outside the department provided insight into areas of exploration for furthering their work and introducing them to other academics in the field.

“My initial approach to the ACSP conference was broad. I wanted to see a wide variety of sessions throughout the conference tracks,” Ph.D. candidate Dylan Stevenson commented. “Doing so offered me a glimpse as to how different planning ‘circles’ communicated and the ways in which planning subfields attempt to tackle the same problem.”

CRP faculty and alumni were among the recipients of faculty awards at the conference. Assistant professor Nicholas Klein was recognized as one of the Top Reviewers for the Journal of Planning Education and Research (JPER). In selecting a Top Reviewer, editors examine the quantity, quality, and timeliness of each candidate’s reviews.

Additionally, Courtney Knapp (CRP Ph.D. ’14), associate professor at Pratt Institute, received the Paul Davidoff Book Award for her publication Constructing the Dynamo of Dixie. The award recognizes an outstanding book regarding participatory planning and positive social change, opposing poverty and racism as factors in society and seeking ways to address social and place-based inequalities.

The 2020 ACSP conference will be held in Toronto, Canada.

Steven Higashide: Winning the Fight for U.S. Urban Transit

bus sketch on street

Envisioning better surface transit in Boston, created as part of a campaign for bus improvements. illustration / Ad Hoc Industries

Date and location: November 15, 12:20 p.m. in Abby and Howard Milstein Auditorium, Milstein Hall

Steven Higashide is a writer, planner, and the director of research for the national foundation TransitCenter, which works with advocacy organizations and public transportation agencies to improve transit that makes cities more just and sustainable. Over a 12-year career in transportation advocacy, he has helped defeat congressional attempts to end federal transit funding, won state legislation strengthening penalties for careless driving, and authored research into the preferences of transit riders and city policies that prioritize transit. Higashide is the author of Better Buses, Better Cities, and his writing has appeared in outlets including The Atlantic, Los Angeles Times, New York Daily News, Next City, and Planning & Environmental Law. He received his master’s degree in urban planning from New York University and is a member of the Transportation Research Board’s Standing Committee on Transportation Demand Management. He was named to the Association for Commuter Transportation’s “40 under 40” in 2016.


Better urban transit is essential to making U.S. cities more just and sustainable. Yet implementation lags, even though better bus and rail service mostly requires enacting best practices that have long existed elsewhere. Why is this? In this talk, Steven Higashide shows how reactionary local, state, and federal politics have enacted structural barriers that make even incremental change difficult in American transit. Cities that overcome them do so through alliances between civic advocates, public agency leaders, and pro-transit elected officials. From New York to Indianapolis to Seattle, transit reform hinges on visionary bureaucrats, steadfast mayors, and advocates of all stripes—wonky transportation bloggers, progressive churches, downtown business groups, and civil rights lawyers.This talk details structural impediments to better transit (like public engagement processes and funding programs that are biased against riders) and the campaigns and coalitions that reformers have used to win transit funding, street space, equitable policy, and operational excellence.

This is a Russell Van Nest Black lecture.

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Suzanne Lanyi Charles’s Research Featured in Recent Publications


headshot of a woman with blonde hair wearing a blue shirt

Suzanne Charles

Assistant Professor Suzanne Lanyi Charles has recently published two papers stemming from her ongoing research concerning the post-crisis financialization of housing. Charles’s research explores the shifts in the way global capital is being reinvested in local housing markets since the 2008 housing crisis and the effects of those shifts on households and access to housing. One important manifestation of these shifts is an increase in single-family rental housing (SFR) in suburban neighborhoods. While increases in suburban SFR may provide access to neighborhoods otherwise off-limits to renters, the increasing dominance of corporate ownership of SFR may be problematic.

Charles takes look at SFRs in a broad collection of U.S. metropolitan areas in “A Latent Profile Analysis of Suburban Single-Family Rental Housing (SFR) Neighborhoods” (Housing Policy Debate, October 29, 2019). “Single-family rental housing (SFR) is an increasingly prevalent form of housing tenure in U.S. suburban neighborhoods, representing a paradigm shift in how households gain access to a suburban single-family home,” she writes.

Using a specialized data analysis technique, the paper classifies types of suburban neighborhoods having high rates of SFR located in the 20 largest U.S. metropolitan areas. Concentrations of SFR were found to be located in a variety of neighborhoods, including diverse middle-class, older white middle-class, low-income Hispanic, low-income African American, and affluent neighborhoods. The study finds that the composition of high-SFR neighborhoods in these areas varies substantially. The article examines the variation in the types of high-SFR neighborhoods for the areas studied and presents a detailed analysis of the spatial distribution of high-SFR neighborhood types in Atlanta, L.A., and Boston.

In “The Financialization of Single-Family Rental Housing: An Examination of Real Estate Investment Trusts’ Ownership of Single-Family Houses in the Atlanta Metropolitan Area” (Journal of Urban Affairs, October 11, 2019), Charles writes that a new type of SFR investor emerged after the 2008 housing crisis — real estate investment trusts (REITs) that funnel large amounts of global capital into local housing markets.

The paper presents an examination of investments made by the four largest publicly traded SFR REITs in the Atlanta metro area. Using exploratory spatial data analysis methods, the study examines the intensity and locations of statistically significant spatial clusters of SFR owned by REITs. Findings indicate that overall, houses owned by SFR REITs are highly spatially clustered in neighborhoods forming a U-shape surrounding the city of Atlanta. Furthermore, many of the places where SFR REIT ownership is clustered are places that were hard hit by the 2008 housing crisis. Increased rents, depressed house prices, deferred maintenance, and increased evictions due to REIT ownership may increase unaffordability, create greater instability, and decrease quality of housing for households in an already precarious position in the housing market.

Charles’s research has received grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Real Estate Academic Initiative at Harvard University, Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies, the Institute for the Social Sciences at Cornell, and the President’s Council of Cornell Women.

By Patti Witten

Alum Q&A: Elyse Belarge M.R.P. ’19

office lobby

Elyse Belarge (center) at the VHB White Plains office. photo / Leslie Kahan Photography

A recent graduate from the regional planning program, Elyse Belarge M.R.P. ’19 is currently working as a planner for Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc. (VHB), a multidisciplinary engineering consulting and design firm, at their White Plains, New York office. Belarge has been involved in several projects across the Hudson Valley, Westchester, and Long Island areas, including projects outside the state. Since joining the firm this past summer, projects she’s been involved with have focused on land use and community development, zoning, and environmental reviews.

While at Cornell, Belarge was involved in several different academic organizations. She served on the Board for the Organization of Cornell Planners (OCP) as social chair, where she planned and coordinated department functions including the OCP Auction fundraiser. 

Recreationally, she led several cross country skiing and day hiking classes through Cornell Outdoor Education. Within the department, she captained West Sibley FC, the planning intramural soccer team, for two years.

Belarge recently reflected on her time at Cornell and what experiences she’s been able to apply to her position as a planner in an engineering firm:

Q: What kinds of projects are you currently involved with at VHB?

Belarge: I’m currently part of a team working on a Consolidated Plan and Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing Choice (AI) for Nassau County, New York. This includes going to committee and stakeholder meetings to hear what agencies and organizations who work in housing and related fields think the county needs to focus its efforts on over the next five years. I’m assisting with drafting reports on the Affordable Housing and High Opportunity Area (HOA) studies that will inform the AI project as well as future applications for development in the county. 

Q: What courses do you think have been relevant to the projects you’re working on now?

Belarge: Definitely Graphic Communications (I’m one of two people in my office who know the software). Professor Booth’s law class and Professor Frantz’s Environmental Impact Review class have both been closely related to the studies I’m focusing on. 

Q: Were there any other experiences at Cornell that informed your work as a planner?

Belarge: I’m a big advocate for Design Connect and getting the project management experience from that opportunity. I worked on two tactical urbanism projects through Design Connect. My first project produced a tactical placemaking handbook that would be used by residents of Tompkins County. The second was a weekend-long pop-up park called ‘Eddy Gate.’ The goal of that project was to assess the wants and needs of users in this public space by the Collegetown entrance of Cornell to inform potential future park designs for the neighborhood.




Stephen Hammer: Financing a Resilient Urban Future: World Bank Experience Financing Climate-Resilient Urban Infrastructure

wave splashing road

photo / Cire Notrevo,

Date and location: November 8, 12:20 p.m. in Hollis E. Cornell Auditorium, 132 Goldwin Smith Hall

Stephen Hammer serves as an advisor of global partnerships and strategy for the climate change team at the World Bank and leads on the bank’s engagement on climate change issues with the United Nations, the G7, the G20, and select other institutions. He formerly served as manager of climate policy for the World Bank Group (WBG), and before that, as a lead specialist on cities and climate change. Prior to joining the WBG in 2013, Hammer was a member of the graduate faculty at MIT and Columbia University, where he taught classes on energy systems, energy policy, benefit-cost analysis, and urban climate change issues. Hammer has served as an advisor to Mayor Bloomberg’s PlaNYC team; the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s work on urban green growth; President Bush’s Commission on Environmental Quality; and the Chinese Ministry of Housing, Urban, and Rural Development, for which he developed and led training programs for more than 250 Chinese mayors on urban energy and climate issues. Hammer holds a Ph.D. from the London School of Economics, an M.P.P. from Harvard University, and a B.S. from the University of California–Davis.


As urbanization trends become more prominent globally, questions arise about how cities will develop physically, demographically, economically, and technologically. Each dimension has implications for the type and scale of infrastructure needed to facilitate —or manage —these changes. Climate change raises the ante on all of these issues. The cost of the direct physical impacts of climate change may be exceeded by the indirect economic losses suffered if essential infrastructure systems and supply chains are forced offline. In the Global South, the problem is even more complex because many cities already facing an infrastructure deficit must also grapple with the growing demand for infrastructure sufficient to accommodate their burgeoning populations. Where will the resources come from to pay for climate-related repairs or these new or replacement climate-resilient urban infrastructure systems? This talk will explore what funding and financing instruments may be available to local governments and infrastructure system operators in cities around the world.

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Andrea Caragliu: Who’s Right, Weber or Glaeser?

city at night

photo / Pixabay

Date and location: November 7, 4:30 p.m. in 115 West Sibley Hall

Andrea Caragliu is an associate professor in regional and urban economics at Politecnico di Milano. Since January 2019, he has been the executive director of the Regional Science Association International (RSAI). He is the book review editor of the Papers in Regional Science. Caragliu holds a Ph.D. in management, economics, and industrial engineering (Politecnico di Milano, 2010). His dissertation was awarded the Merit Prize of the EU Committee of the Regions Prize for the Best Doctoral Dissertation and was also awarded the Diploma d’Onore AISRe for the best doctoral dissertation in regional science “Giorgio Leonardi” 2010. Caragliu also holds a Ph.D. in spatial economics (VU University Amsterdam, 2015), master’s and bachelor’s degrees in economics (Bocconi University in Milan, 2005 and 2003, respectively), and was a visiting student in the spatial economics department of the Free University of Amsterdam in 2008–09. Caragliu has published in various international refereed journals such as Economic Geography, Journal of Regional Science, Journal of Economic Geography, Papers in Regional Science, and Journal of Urban Technology.


In this paper, we measure the relative importance of consumption and production-related amenities as sources of agglomeration economies. To this aim, we exploit a large database comprising about 70 percent of all house transactions in the Netherlands in the period 2005–11, CBS neighborhood data from the Wijk-en Buurtkaart, data on monuments from the Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed, data on firm-level productivity from Orbis, and, lastly, L.I.S.A. data of all registered firms in the Netherlands. The paper provides two main contributions: We measure the intensity of the productivity effect of consumption and production-related amenities for the Dutch case, and we observe whether the relative intensity of the two effects changes over the observed time span, following recent theoretical predictions. Our findings suggest that both consumption and production-related externalities are reflected in house prices and firm productivity. In particular, urban land rent increases with the intensity of competition, as well as with the presence of local consumption amenities (major monuments, theatres, and restaurants). Firms also tend to be more productive when located closer to sources of consumption amenities, although the evidence is less compelling. Results are robust to a number of robustness checks, as well as to the use of instrumental variables, with soil composition as the main instrument. Instead, we find no evidence of a relative decline of the importance of production externalities with respect to consumption amenities.

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Sierra Woodruff: Adaptation to Resilience Planning: Alternative pathways to prepare for climate change

city skyline with a pink and purple sky

Bangkok, Thailand. photo / Preecha.MJ from Wikimedia Commons

Date and location: November 6, 4:30 p.m. in 115 West Sibley Hall

Sierra C. Woodruff is an assistant professor in the Department of Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning at Texas A&M University. Her research focuses on how planning can better address environmental and climatic change. Currently, she has several projects examining the relationship between social networks, plan coordination, and urban resilience to flooding. She also leads a project to quantify and compare the resilience policies across U.S. cities.


In the last decade, resilience has rapidly risen in prominence to become an important concept in urban planning practice and academic discourse. Large, high-profile funding opportunities such as the U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) $1 billion National Disaster Resilience Competition and the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities demonstrate the support and interest in resilience at the city scale. Today, cities are beginning to create resilience plans. What do these plans contain and how do they compare to other planning efforts to prepare for climate change? We use plan evaluation methods to analyze 10 resilience plans developed by cities participating in the 100 Resilient Cities program and compare them to 44 early, local climate change adaptation plans. The results demonstrate that resilience orients climate change as one of the many stresses and shocks a city may experience. Resilience plans lack critical elements for preparing cities for climate change, but also offer a new platform to address the economic, social, and environmental policies that may amplify the consequences of climate change. Consequently, resilience planning represents an alternative — and potentially complementary — path towards preparing for climate change.

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Jonathan Jones: Indigenous Knowledges and Art-Making Practices

park aerial view

barrangal dyara (skin and bones) (2016), gypsum, kangaroo grass (Themeda triandra), 8-channel soundscape of the Sydney language and Gamilaraay, Gumbaynggirr, Gunditjmara, Ngarrindjeri, Paakantji, Wiradjuri, and Woiwurrung languages. photo / Peter Greig, courtesy the artist and Kaldor Public Art Projects, Sydney

Date and location: November 1, 12:20 p.m. in Abby and Howard Milstein Auditorium, Milstein Hall

A member of the Wiradjuri and Kamilaroi nations of southeast Australia, Jonathan Jones is an artist, curator, and researcher. As an artist, he works across a range of mediums — from printmaking and drawing to sculpture and film — to create site-specific installations and interventions that engage Aboriginal practices, relationships, and knowledge. Jones’s work champions local knowledge systems, is grounded in research of the historical archive and builds on community aspirations. At the heart of his practice is the act of collaborating, and many projects have seen him work with other artists and communities, including Uncle Stan Grant Sr. Jones has exhibited both nationally and internationally, and his work has been collected by state, national, and international institutions. In 2016 Jones presented the 32nd Kaldor Public Art Project, barrangal dyara (skin and bones), at the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney, and in 2018 he was awarded the Sidney Myer Creative Fellowship in the field of visual arts. Jones is a senior researcher at the University of Technology Sydney.


This talk will address the process and practice of working as an Aboriginal artist within the contemporary art context by considering several key artworks. These works negotiate Aboriginal protocols, such as acknowledging the traditional owners of a site, the maintenance of knowledge regarding language and toolmaking, and community engagement and development, alongside notions of site-specificity, budgets, and buildability, set within the contemporary art world. In order to achieve these multiple outcomes, these artworks are conceived and delivered within an Indigenous methodology. In this process, age-old ways of working are shown to have enormous impacts on both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities today.

Cosponsored by the American Indian and Indigenous Studies Program, Engaged Cornell, the Cornell Council for the Arts, and the Carl L. Becker House

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Kenneth Reardon: Making Waves Along the Mississippi: The South Memphis Revitalization Action Project (aka SoMeRAP)

heat shot of a man with a beard

Kenneth Reardon, (Ph.D. CRP ’90)

Date and location: October 31, 4:30 p.m. in 115 West Sibley Hall

Ken Reardon is a professor and director of the M.S. in Urban Planning and Community Development program at the University of Massachusetts–Boston where he pursues research, teaching, and outreach in support of resident-led revitalization in economically distressed communities. Reardon received his B.A. in sociology from the University of Massachusetts–Amherst, master of urban planning degree from Hunter College (CUNY), and Ph.D. in city and regional planning from Cornell AAP. He has served as a tenured planning faculty member at the University of Illinois, Cornell University, the University of Memphis, and the University of Massachusetts. Social Policy Press published his newest book, Building Bridges: Community and University Partnerships in East St. Louis, in August. Reardon has received the AICP President’s Award, Dale Prize for Excellence in Urban Planning, and Lynton Award for Engaged Scholarship in recognition of his community planning efforts in underserved communities


In the fall of 2007, Reverend Kenneth Robinson, pastor of the St. Andrew’s AME Church in South Memphis, invited University of Memphis (U of M) planners to collaborate with his congregation in devising a comprehensive development plan to reverse the decline of this historic African American neighborhood. Using a highly participatory planning approach, U of M planners engaged a broad cross-section of the community in forging a plan that overcame significant municipal government opposition to successfully implement transformative child development, food security, and open space improvement projects in the community. These outcomes improved local conditions while challenging the city’s historic “top-down” approach to planning.

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Students Awarded Best Project Honor by APA NY

Rendering of a building on a tree-lined street

A rendering from the final report Lakewood Urban Design Workshop Fall 2018. rendering / provided

Students from the fall 2018 CRP Land Use, Environmental Planning, and Urban Design Workshop earned a Best Practice/Outstanding Student Project award from the American Planning Association (APA) Upstate New York Chapter, announced on October 3 at the organization’s annual conference in Rochester.

Coming from the departments of city and regional planning, architecture, and landscape architecture, the students traveled to Lakewood, Ohio and incorporated workforce housing models, multimodal transportation improvements, and public space improvements to provide a higher quality of living and economic development opportunities for local Lakewood residents in the city’s Fourth Ward, as well as residents of western Cleveland seeking affordable housing.

“The student teams designed innovative and resilient strategies for economic development, public space, and streetscape interventions as a way of responding to both regional and local needs,” said Mitch Glass, a visiting critic in CRP who teaches the course.

“I joined the class specifically for the hands-on urban design experience,” said Eden Marek, M.R.P. ’20, a student in the class. “It was all new to me. I learned so much about the nuts and bolts of the iterative design process. The APA Upstate New York Chapter award was a great way to end my first year of graduate school.”

The following students were enrolled in the course and produced the winning report:

  • Ching-Lun (Don) Chen (M.S. AAD ’19)
  • Austen Davis (M.R.P. ’20)
  • Mengyuan Hua (M.R.P. ’19)
  • Kevin Kim (M.R.P./M.L.A. ’20)
  • Anna Makido (M.S. RS ’19)
  • Eden Marek (M.R.P. ’20)
  • Noah Schumer (M.R.P. ’19)
  • Leigh Scudder (M.R.P. ’19)
  • Jacob Soley (B.S. URS ’19)
  • Shawn Sun (M.Arch. ’19)
  • Victor Tran (B.S. URS ’18)
  • Xinglu Zhu (continuing education student)

by Patti Witten

M.R.P. Student Selected as Finalist for Crisis Management Case Challenge

Chasidy Miles (M.R.P. ’21)  has been selected as a finalist for the Crisis Management Case Challenge, hosted by the Homeland Security Advisory Council (HSA Council) at Pepperdine University’s School of Public Policy. Miles and her teammate Yadira Gallegos will be presenting their policy memo to a panel of subject matter experts on November 7th at the University of Southern California. Selected finalists will have a chance to win the 1st place prize of $2,000.

The 8th annual case challenge focuses on homelessness – a public health crisis. The HSA Council invited teams of graduate students to create innovative, public health solutions to address this crisis. Previous case challenges have focused on issues that have largely impacted vulnerable communities in the Los Angeles metro area.

The finalist presentations will be open to the public. Registration is free.


Undergraduate Honors Thesis: Community Based Organizations and the Development of Political Influence in Immigrant Communities

statue of liberty

Statue of Liberty in New York City, NY

By Luke Bianco, ’19


This thesis sought to identify the role of community-based organizations (CBOs) in the development of political influence of U.S. immigrant communities. To answer this question, this work chronicled the development of the Cuban-American immigrant community in Miami and the Vietnamese-American immigrant community in California throughout the late 20th century. These groups offer a unique case study into the development of post-1965 immigrant communities and provide key insights to better understand the role of local institutions in the development of their political roots in the country. These insights were then directly applied to modern CBOs through the analysis of a series of qualitative interviews to determine these institutions’ roles today. Bianco argues that strong community institutions are integral to the successful defense of immigrant communities against social and political marginalization and the development of immigrant political influence.

The full thesis will be available from the Cornell University Library in spring 2020.

Course: CRP 4920 Undergraduate Honors Thesis Research

Instructor: Nicholas J. Klein

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