Fighting Poverty with Passion
For the past few months we have been in a Strategic Planning process, with long, productive meetings each week with our staff and consultants. It has been an interesting process to be at the table for and I have made strong contributions to the conversation and to what will ultimately be the new direction for the Tulane City Center looking forward. We have worked to simplify and communicate more clearly the types of projects that we will complete, and identified the target impact areas that we want these projects to make a difference in. Our four impact areas are: improving urban systems, making neighborhoods more vibrant, celebrating and preserving culture, and promoting health and wellness. Within this framework we will be able to have our RFP committee make decisions about what projects we take on next year. Proposals are due on May 15th and the committee meets the following week to make their selection. I am looking forward to seeing the proposals that come in and will have a bigger role in completing these projects, specifically what we are now calling “micro-builds”, or smaller scale, 4-6 week design build projects.
Meanwhile, we have been wrapping up this semester’s design-build in the lower ninth ward. The Lower Ninth Ward Center for Sustainable Engagement & Development (CSED) is creating an Environmental Learning & Research Center along Florida Ave. near the intersection of Caffin. The site will allow CSED to bolster its mission by hosting educational workshops and environmental research.
CSED has partnered with the Tulane City Center to build Phase 1 of the project. Focused on creating an interactive landscape alongside a pavilion, students and faculty worked for 12 weeks to complete the design/build process as part of the Spring 2015 Engage.Design.Build Studio. The site is now ready to host educational programming, including water management demonstrations and native planting and serves as the launch point for bayou kayak tours.
Our AmeriCorps VISTA team volunteered at the L9 site towards the end of the construction process and helped with some of the final touches and landscaping. We planted trees in the bioswale and finished leveling the site of the outdoor classroom space before installing a barrier against weeds and spreading gravel to define the gathering spaces.