query: melding historic preservation and community organizing

colist at comm-org.wisc.edu colist at comm-org.wisc.edu
Fri May 12 13:22:50 CDT 2006

[ed:  while Richard is primarily asking for connections to individuals, 
his message also brings up some interesting issues we may want to talk 
about.  Please send names of individuals directly to him at the address 
below and feel welcomed to discuss the issues he raises by replying to 
the list.]

From: Richard Layman <rlaymandc at yahoo.com>

Just in the last few days, I have been having a live and e-conversation 
with representatives from a neighborhood association in New Orleans that 
is looking to hire a staff person as a community organizer, but who is 
also fervently committed to historic preservation.
  In our conversation, we seem to agree that the average preservationist 
doesn't have a CO perspective, and the average community organizer 
thinks of historic preservation as a thing for rich people and as the 
primary lever to bring about the dreaded "G" word, "gentrification."
  I jokingly call what I do "built environmental justice," and think of 
it as a focus on reversing processes of disinvestment, and in 
stabilizing and improving neighborhoods and neighborhood commercial 
districts.  Alternatively, I call myself an "old urbanist," committed to 
the repopulation and revitalization of our center cities.
  Historic preservation, in our traditional center cities, if done 
right, is a key component of building and extending livability.  (cf. 
the "placemaking" movement spearheaded by the Project for Public Places 
and others; _Affordable Housing and Historic Preservation: The Missed 
Connection_ by Donovan Rypkema.)

  If there are people out there melding the two perspectives, feel free 
to drop me a line, or respond in turn to the list.
  Thank you.
  Richard Layman
  Citizens Planning Coalition, DC
  and http://urbanplacesandspaces.blogspot.com (Rebuilding Place in the 
Urban Space)

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