Thursday, October 29, 2009
As I posted earlier this week, the National Community Land Trust Network is having their annual conference here in Athens. Four UGA busloads of folks came over from the Atlanta airport Tuesday and Wednesday and they're all now safely ensconced at The Foundry Park Inn (part of which is, indeed, a rehabilitated foundry and a very cool historic structure).
This morning three of my colleagues and I gave a panel presentation on the land use issues faced by the Newtown Florist Club and Newtown Land Trust in Gainesville, Georgia. Newtown deserves a post (or several) of its own, but I'll save that for another day. Suffice it to say that Newtown Florist Club is a prominent environmental justice and civil rights organization in Georgia, and they have been the clinic's client for the last two years. We have been working with them on an interdisciplinary approach to solving environmental and land use problems in the Newtown neighborhood. Newtown served as a case study this morning for how community land trusts can engage with outside partners to address land use issues. Rose Johnson-Mackey of the Florist Club board spoke of the history of the neighborhood and how this predominantly African-American neighborhood became surrounded by industry. I spoke about the Clinic's efforts [give this data-rich link a couple of minutes to download] to convince the City of Gainesville to, among other things, enforce existing ordinances and improve industrial zoning regulations. Alfie Vick from UGA's College of Environment & Design spoke about how his landscape architecture students are using their community design skills to help the neighborhood create a vision for a better future, and plan a community garden. Dudley Hartle from the US Forest Service's Southern Center for Urban Forestry Research spoke about how concepts of green infrastructure can be applied in an urban neighborhood situation like Newtown.
We had some great dialogue with the participants about environmental justice, community organizing, rural planning, and how land trusts can play a role in creating sustainability. I think some interesting partnerships and data sharing will come out of today's interactions.
Jamie Baker Roskie