Tag Archives: Social Justice

April 2017: MURP Faculty Updates

MURP faculty are busy serving the planning profession, the community and our students through their leadership and participation in publications, boards, research and media stories. 

Notable activities in April 2017 include:

Jeremy Németh, associate professor of urban and regional planning, received a grant through CU Denver’s Office of Research Services to conduct a research project entitled, Green Gentrification in Chicago: Development, displacement and Community Activism. The project will analyze the gentrification impacts of the more than 200 acres of parks built between 1990 and 2017 in Chicago, and will include interviews with advocacy organizations working along two of the city’s new parks. This research project is spurred by the expensive urban greening projects many U.S. cities have undertaken in recent years along former waterways and rail corridors, such as New York City’s High Line. While these projects often transform dilapidated infrastructure into desirable public spaces, they can contribute to quickly rising property values and the eventual displacement of low-income people living nearby. As such, Németh’s research will assess the extent to which these “green gentrification” projects contribute to displacement, and whether community resistance efforts resulting in new housing and land use policies may temper these effects.

Németh was also interviewed and cited in the publication, CityPulse, where Lansing, Michigan is looking to Colorado as a case study related to medical marijuana regulation and zoning restrictions. In 2014, Németh conducted a study of zoning restrictions for marijuana facilities in Denver and found that the restrictions pushed these businesses into lower-income, minority communities and neighborhoods. In the interview, Németh said that these zoning restrictions ultimately deepen the disparity between wealthier areas of the city and lower-income neighborhoods.

Andrew Rumbach, assistant professor of urban and regional planning, received two grants for research on international planning. The first, a $25,000 grant from CU Denver’s Office of Research Services, will allow Dr. Rumbach and two graduate students to travel to northeastern India to study flooding and landslide risk in fast-growing villages. The second, a teaching enhancement grant from the Center for Faculty Development, will help Dr. Rumbach and colleagues from the University of Michigan to evaluate a case-based approach to international planning pedagogy.

Austin Troy, professor and urban and regional planning and department chair, was elected to the governing board of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planners as the regional representative from the Central region of the U.S.

Fall 2016 Planning Project Studio Explores RiNo Art District

September 7, 2016

This fall, Assistant Professor Carrie Makarewicz’s Planning Project Studio—a class that focuses on teaching second-year Master of Urban and Regional Planning students how to design plans for real-world clients—are working in Denver’s River North (RiNo) Art District, a quickly developing neighborhood northeast of downtown that has long been home to the residences and studios of working artists.

Though an area originally utilized for industrial purposes, the creation of the arts district in 2005, coupled with its designation as a Colorado Creative District by the State of Colorado, has quickly made RiNo an area of fast-paced commercial, business and residential urban growth.

In the studio, students’ objective is to create a quality-of-life plan for RiNo and its surrounding neighborhoods, including developing design and zoning strategies, financing tools, developer incentives, accessibility improvements, employment diversification and the identification of essential missing uses.

To meet these ends, students are working with two clients, including Create Denver—a division of the City and County of Denver’s Arts and Venues, which focuses on supporting Denver’s creative economy— as well as the non-profit organization RiNo Art District, which serves to keep RiNo a sustainable arts district for artists and creative businesses.

Create Denver is seeking a plan from the students that promotes the City of Denver’s Imagine2020 cultural strategic plan, including using the arts as method for social change. Similarly, RiNo Art District seeks assistance in adapting to the new, higher density residential development through a plan that provides a high quality of life for the residents and workers in the area while sustaining the area as a vibrant arts district.

“This studio is of particular interest and importance to our students because it touches on so many issues,” Makarewicz says. “It gives them the ability to think about how to be creative with planning designs and tools, given RiNo’s desire to try cutting-edge and innovative ideas.”

The studio is being conducted in conjunction with an environmental and market research project the College of Architecture and Planning (CAP) is managing for RiNo Art District, which is exploring the business, commercial, residential and artistic landscapes of the area. CAP professors are frequently engaged in community-based research, and the introduction of this studio was an additional opportunity for the college to align with the University of Colorado Denver’s goals of providing an energetic, collaborative and creative learning environment where community application is encouraged.

Through the planning studio process, students receive hands-on learning experience in infrastructure plans, financing sources and challenges, integrating the area’s long-time industrial uses with new residents and commercial activity, understanding access to and uses within RiNo’s future park, river clean-up, and ensuring the arts are an accessible commodity to all of Denver’s residents.

Makarewicz also notes RiNo’s proximity to Globeville and Elyria Swansea, historic Denver neighborhoods that are struggling with chronic issues such as health and lack of proximity to resources such as grocery stores and parks.

“Students want to explore how to make RiNo more accessible to these neighborhoods,” Makarewicz says. “This is also in line with their clients’ desire to both increase accessibility for all people, which will lend itself to the district’s enrichment, as well as ensure it remains a sustainable area to live and work for artists.”

Students pictured above getting a tour of RiNo with River North Art District Directors Jamie Licko and Alye Sharpe.

CAP Lecture Series: “Environmental Justice and Ecosystem Services”

October 9, 2014

Denver, CO – Dr. Christopher Boone, Professor and Dean of the School of Sustainability at Arizona State University gave a compelling talk on “Environmental Justice of Ecosystem Services” as part of the CAP Lecture Series on October 9.

Dr. Boone’s lecture focused on the synthesis between ecosystems and human well-being, and emphasized the need to make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable.

Dr. Boone studies the nature of cities, urban life, and the relationship between cities and the natural environment, primarily from a historical point of view. He is particularly interested in the processes responsible for changes in the urban landscape, and the consequences of those changes for human beings and the environment. Three themes infuse his research: the study of urban infrastructure, public health, and environmental justice. Dr. Boone teaches courses on urban environments, sustainable urbanism, environmental health, and environmental justice. He holds a PhD and MA in Geography from the University of Toronto and BA in Geography (Honors) from Queen’s University.

CAP Lecture Series: ‘Land of Opportunity’ Screening

September 22, 2014

Denver, CO – Luisa Dantas, director of the Hurricane Katrina documentary Land of Opportunity, hosted a public viewing of her film as part of the CAP Lecture Series on September 22. The event was co-sponsored by the College of Architecture and Planning, the Department of Planning and Design, and Resilient Colorado.

Rooted in post-Katrina New Orleans, Land of Opportunity explores the often-contentious process of community redevelopment following disaster. It tells the story of numerous individuals post-Katrina, from a middle school student displaced to Los Angeles to a world-famous architect and planner drawn to the prestige of the recovery process. In the words of David Lessinger, who is director of planning at the New Orleans Recovery Authority:

“Of all the filmmakers who have come to New Orleans since Katrina, in my opinion, only Luisa Dantas has spent the time and built the relationships needed to get the big picture and a deeper understanding of the complicated issues of rebuilding and recovery. Her documentary, Land of Opportunity, is an honest and in-depth look at how the storm affected this city and country and what it means for real people’s lives.”

Dantas participated in a moderated discussion with audience members following the screening. As part of her visit, Dantas also offered a hands-on workshop for faculty and students interested in using rich media in their teaching or community activism.

To learn more about Land of Opportunity, visit http://www.landofopportunitymovie.com/.