Author Archive


When a Highway Takes a Home

A few years ago, I shared a listing of articles, websites, and critical reads on how transportation has shaped black communities for good and for bad. I provided examples of how transportation was a tool for economic development, and others where it was a tool for destruction. It is one thing to read about the impact building highways had on dividing communities, but what happens when you learn it happened to your family?Slide2

Last month, I was the keynote at the Louisiana Smart Growth Summit hosted by the Center for Planning Excellence. The summit was in Baton Rouge, where my mom was born and raised, so I interviewed her prior to preparing my talk. Specifically, I asked her questions about my great grandmother’s house, which I remember being under the I-10 overpass. My mom answered my questions and shared that her house was taken to build I-10.

Like many transportation projects that start as lines on a map, the 1960 map shows the pSlide3lanned route of the I-10 expressway. I’m sure the planners thought about the connectivity, “economic development” of having an expressway, and traffic impacts. Given this was 1960 and in the Jim Crow era, I’m also sure they knew exactly who they would be impacting. Although the map is hard to read, the areas where people were displaced and the communities divided, were Black communities.

Two of the parcels on the map belonged to my family. The parcel highlighted in yellow was owned by my great grandmother. They didn’t take her house to build the highway, but she did have a pillar in her backyard. Her house and the store on the corner, where the only buildings that remained. Her house stood on that parcel until she moved in with my grandparents when I was a child. My family sold the house to the store and it was eventually demolished.

The parcel highlighted in green was owned by my grandparents. My mom said since the two parcels formed an “L” shape, she would run from the back of my grandparents to my great grandmother’s house. My grandparents moved to make way for the highway. Here’s the photo from google street view that shows the property today.


Although my grandparents were able to relocate to a nice neighborhood in Baton Rouge, gone where the days when my mom could run to her grandmother’s house. The highway not only changed the social cohesion of the neighborhood, it also changed how my family was able to interact with each other.

Veronica O. Davis, PE is a transportation guru who uses her knowledge to spark progressive social change. As Co-owner and Principal of Nspiregreen, she is also responsible for the management of the major urban planning functions such as transportation planning, policy development, master planning, sustainability analysis, and long range planning. In July 2012, Veronica was recognized as a Champion of Change by the White House for her professional accomplishments and community advocacy, which includes co-founding Black Women Bike.

Charitable Giving

Tis the Season to Give… Well Every Season is the Season to Give

Tis the season! It’s that time of year again when some of the biggest holidays in the American culture are celebrated: Thanksgiving, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and Hanukkah. Also known as the giving season. It’s also the end of the year for tax deductions, so in November and December there is increase in charitable giving compared to other months throughout the year.  With Thanksgiving behind us and Christmas just a few weeks away, it’s never too late to spread generosity. In fact, you should always think of ways to give back whenever you have the chance. Giving is not about how good it makes you feel but what you can do to lend a hand to those in need. Here are a few ways on how you can give back over the holidays and all year round:

Volunteer at a soup kitchen/feeding. Give a couple of hours of your day to help serve food at a soup kitchen, homeless shelter, or a feeding event with a local organization or church.

Pack care packages. Buy Ziploc bags and fill them with toiletry products, a water bottle, soft cereal bars, crackers, fruit snacks (or other manageable healthy food products), and a card of encouragement and give them out to the homeless with friends or family members.

 Donate clothes or toys. Find a local clothing or toy drive and donate gently used or new items to organizations. You may be able to find drives in a mall, the lobby of your office or apartment building, or even a nearby Starbucks.

 Adopt a family. Many local organizations can help you sponsor a family in need to shop for over the holiday season.

Donate to a food bank. During your shopping trip to the grocery store, pick out nonperishable food items to take to a food bank or a local bank. You can also see about volunteering at the food bank. Make sure to double check the type of food the food bank accepts.

 Visit a nursing home or hospital. With family or friends visit a local nursing home or hospital by spending quality time with residents or patients. Sing a few Christmas carols, bring personalized cards and decorations, or create activities and play games. Many people are without families. Coming with a warm heart can simply brighten up someone’s day.

 Create your own donation drive. Select a charity for you drive and specify the items that you want to collect. Determine the location and date for your drive. Make fliers and do a social media campaign, contact local business, and advertise by word of the mouth to family members, friends, co-workers, and business owners to donate.

 Donate to a charity. If there is a cause or a specific organization that you are passionate about donate money. You would probably spend that money on your daily coffee, an outfit, a movie ticket, or your monthly streaming service bill.

 Go online. Research local organizations in your community or city. There are plenty of organizations around you that you have no idea exists. Understand what they are about and the cause they are representing. Learn about their volunteering and donating opportunities.

I hope this list was helpful in providing you with many great opportunities to give this holiday season. Over the past several years I have volunteered at the Thanksgiving and Christmas feedings at my church back in my hometown in NY. This year I plan to donate to the toy drive at my local mall for a children’s hospital. Now that I told you my plans, it’s time for you to start thinking about yours if you haven’t done so already. Happy Holidays!

Jazmin Kimble is an Urban Planner and Urban Designer  from Long Island, NY. She has a passion for empowering and planning adequate, equitable communities through the lens of Geodesign, Urban Design, Community Development, Sustainability, Environmental Solutions, and Community Engagement. Jazmin believes the culture and the history of a community is what makes it unique. This approach allows her to design with communities from a holistic viewpoint.



How does Branding Apply to You? I’m glad you asked…

Before I tell you why personal branding is worth mastering, I need you to take a deep breath and open up your mind.

Okay, let’s begin.  Your personal branding is your reputation that you craft. Sometimes your reputation can precede you, meaning that people can formulate an opinion about you before they even meet you. Your reputation can be defined by others or you can take control of your brand. It’s your choice. It can seem like an extreme math problem at first, but after this read, you’ll be able to apply it in your career. We’re going to start off by talking about how you define your brand, how your brand helps your career, and then how you can apply it in your career.

To understand how it applies to you, we need to begin by defining branding. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, branding is the promoting of a product or service by identifying it with a particular brand. For example, Nike is an athletic brand associated with quality performance wear to amplify your exercise experience. Nike aligns the promotion of their products on an understanding of their own value and how their products are viewed by customers.

When branding is applied to the person, it is a two-way street experience: it’s the way you promote yourself externally and the perception of characteristics that your peers and superiors identify with you. The characteristics that you promote and the perception from your audience have to align. For example, let’s say you are a project manager with experience in transportation planning and you have great leadership skills. When you approach projects, it’s up to you to craft your personal message and align the experience to match. That means during the project you take initiative to lead the team exceptionally from project implementation to completion. It only works if your teammates believe that you have great leadership skills.

Personal branding can help you in your career because it is your own promotion of your skillset in your career field. When you and your audience have a clear understanding of your value, you will be the first on their radar when an opportunity comes about and vice versa. For example, if during a project you promoted your leadership skills and performed the work and your project team acknowledges that, in the future you will on their radar for more work.

To apply personal branding in your career, you want to attract the right people or information to grow and reach your goals and be known for these things. Ways to apply personal branding and define your brand include:

  • Telling your story on social media: Using LinkedIn and Twitter to post information about your expertise. You can create your own content or repost industry leader posts.
  • Creating a personal website: Use this website as a virtual resume to further showcase your expertise by identifying projects that you worked on, partnerships you have or blog posts.
  • Networking: To attend events in your industry to stay abreast of the latest or build relationships with influencers. See previous blog here on for tips on networking.
  • Volunteering your services: Provide your skills to non-profits or individuals to expand your client base and scalability of your skillset.

Defining your brand evolves as you grow. It’s a cycle. Keep these questions in mind as you grow:

  • What key players will you need to influence and build relationships with?
  • What level of a relationship is necessary to build?
  • What new skills can I leverage?

The evolution of personal branding shifts like any other process in life. The process you began with might not look the same when you reach your goal, but you will pick up on how to gauge your personal brand in a professional setting with aware of it.

Christina Glancy is a Pittsburgh Native who serves as our Community Outreach Specialist. She has built a unique perspective which blends project management, marketing, community involvement and data analysis. She has a successful track record of engaging diverse groups of stakeholders throughout the Transportation, Health Care and Cybersecurity Industries. She believes in changing the world one conversation at a time.







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