stake holders

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Greenwood Utilities continues to provide excellent support for the Baptist Town project even in the muddy conditions shown here. The stakes show construction boundaries and light locations for a pocket park, designed by landscape designer Brantley Snipes, to be constructed in May with students from the Carl Small Town Center and Harvard’s Kennedy School.

As we squished through the mud today, I thought of how individuals and organizations can choose to be flexible, helpful contributors to a project, or introduce difficulties and limit progress. I have encountered both here in Greenwood, but in either case they provide lessons in how to support rather than hinder projects.

maymester

The Carl Small Town Center, based out of Mississippi State University’s College of Architecture, Art + Design, is one of my hosts throughout this fellowship. Their advice and expertise is already providing invaluable support, and I am excited to give back to the school this May as an instructor. Public design will be the focus of this hands-on course that will result in a pocket park in the Baptist Town neighborhood.

maymester poster blog

As I prepared a presentation to introduce myself and the course to Mississippi State students on Friday, I was reminded of how I initially became interested in public architecture. Though I didn’t realize it at the time, the projects I experienced first-hand while studying abroad in South America still inform the way I think about the role of architecture in the public realm. Thank you to my long ago professor Claudio Vekstein.

thank you CDP

On Martin Luther King Jr. day, I spent the afternoon and evening in Baptist Town. I had visited before, but it was a group of public policy students from Harvard’s Kennedy school, that introduced me to residents in a new way. These students (and their predecessors – the student shown in this video first visited in 2009) have succeeded in community engagement where many others fail because they listen, and because they do not view the people of Baptist Town as a group that knows or cares any less than they do. They have built trust, hope and capacity in the years that they have been working here in Greenwood, and it is this base that will allow the initiatives that I am working on to move forward. I am grateful to them for their encouragement, ideas, and allowing me to be carried forward by their efforts.

Read more about their work here.