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Examples from Elsewhere: NYC and Washington DC

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    Free and open to the public

As Boston begins thinking strategically about its development throughout the 21st century, cities around the world provide case studies for how to achieve excellent outcomes in urban design and community building. Join a conversation on lessons learned in community engagement from the High Line (Manhattan, New York City) and the 11th Street Bridge Park (Washington, DC). Both of these projects merge infrastructure and green space with beautiful results, and with thoughtful community outreach.

How can great design energize a community, instead of isolating it? What are strategies learned from these two projects that are applicable here in Boston? How can we create a greenway on Columbia Road that unities neighborhoods and remains a conduit for the movement of people, buses, cars, and bikes?

This event is the second in the four-part series of Fulfilling the Promise: Community Building and the Emerald Necklace. Be sure to join the BSA for both conversations in this series that will look at local and international case studies, Examples from Elsewhere: NYC and Washington DC, on Tuesday April 25, 6:00 pm and Examples from Elsewhere: Copenhagen and Indianapolis, on Monday, May 1, 6:00 pm.


Danya Sherman, MIT STL Lab + Consultant, former director of public programs, education, and community engagement, High Line
Danya is an urban planner, program director, and consultant with a passion for starting, improving, and communicating about innovative and impactful initiatives in urban development, and the arts. She is currently heading a new initiative to pioneer multimedia educational curriculum for socially responsible real estate at the MIT STL Lab, and is a consultant with ArtPlace America and a contributing writer for Next City.

From 2007–2013, Danya was with Friends of the High Line, the City of New York’s nonprofit partner in developing and operating the High Line. She founded and directed the organization's Public Programs, Education, and Community Engagement Department, where she conceived, produced, and grew community engagement initiatives, cultural events, and educational programs to become a cornerstone of the organization. Danya also played key roles in the design and strategic development of the park and organization, and instigated the High Line Network initiative, which is bringing together adaptive reuse projects around the country to learn together. Danya holds a Bachelor of Arts from Wesleyan University and a Master’s in City Planning from MIT.

Irfana Jetha Noorani, deputy director, 11th Street Bridge Park
Irfana is the deputy director of the 11th Street Bridge Park, a project of Building Bridges Across the River, in Washington DC. Along with fundraising for the Bridge Park, Irfana works closely with local stakeholders to plan community-driven programs like the annual Anacostia River Festival and other placekeeping initiatives in the adjoining neighborhoods. She also promotes the project’s work around equity by providing planning and implementation support on the Bridge Park’s Equitable Development Plan.

Previously, Irfana worked with The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in the Performing Arts Program, and for New York Live Arts as the manager of institutional giving. Irfana was an arts management fellow at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. She holds a BA in Dance and Movement Studies and International Relations from Emory University in her hometown of Atlanta, GA.


Katie Swenson, VP of National Design Initiatives, Enterprise Community Partners, Inc.
Katie Swenson is a national leader in sustainable design for low-income communities. Katie oversees National Design Initiatives for Enterprise Community Partners, Inc., directing the Affordable Housing Design Leadership Institute and the Enterprise Rose Architectural Fellowship, which cultivates a new generation of community architects through hands-on, high-impact projects in local communities across the country. The 50+ program fellows remain leaders in community design, spearheading a national movement of architects dedicated to community development and social activism. After completing her own Enterprise Rose Fellowship at the Piedmont Housing Alliance in Charlottesville, Va., Katie founded the Charlottesville Community Design Center and led it to establish, with Habitat for Humanity, an influential and acclaimed international design competition. The competition's innovative lessons are recounted in "Growing Urban Habitats: Seeking a New Housing Development Model," which Katie co-authored with William Morrish and Susanne Schindler. Named an emerging leader by the Design Futures Council, Katie is also listed among Steelcase's prestigious Green Giants. Katie holds a bachelor's degree in comparative literature from the University of California-Berkeley and a master's degree in architecture from the University of Virginia.


Kishore Varanasi, urban design principal, CBT Architects
Kishore Varanasi is an award-winning urban designer, strategist, innovator, teacher, and writer, with a wide ranging influence on both the public and private sectors locally and internationally. His work involves the rejuvenation of downtowns and waterfronts, master planning for urban institutions and new communities, and design of large mixed-use projects. Kishore’s innovative contributions stem from his ability to create viable and sustainable mixed-use neighborhoods converging the interests of residents, government entities and developers, by inspiring creative collaborations and fresh approaches to community building.

For those who qualify, 2 LUs are available.


Fulfilling the Promise: Community Building and the Emerald Necklace, a program of the BSA Foundation, is sponsored by the Chleck Family Foundation. The series has been organized in partnership with the Boston Society of Landscape Architects, and the Emerald Network initiative of LivableStreets. Other partners include the Emerald Necklace Conservancy, and Franklin Park Coalition.

The promise of Columbia Road is long in the making. Intentionally created as one of the widest streets in Boston, this critical connection links Boston’s residential center to one of its greatest assets: the Boston Harbor. After more than a century as a connection primarily for vehicles, serving to divide the residential neighborhoods on either side, it is time to re-think the promise of Columbia Road. How can this road become a focal point for the community and enhance the lives of those living and working alongside it?

Completing this piece of the Emerald Necklace will not only connect residents of Roxbury and Dorchester to Boston Harbor and beyond, but also offer opportunities to improve public health, and create new placemaking moments.

Header image courtesy of NBBJ Boston and LivableStreets.