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New Year – Same Goal!

Happy New Year! I hope that your holidays were absolutely perfect and you are walking boldly into and excited about the year ahead of you.

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As you know, the onset of a new year is a time to reflect on the past, prepare for the present, and make plans for the future. Things are no different at Nspiregreen. While we relish in our success from the previous year, we realize that there are certainly opportunities for improvement in our business. One area that we are consistently working on is relationship building.

I have a confession. I am a business card hoarder. I can count the number of untouched business cards that I have collected at events over the years. Each of these cards represents an opportunity for a new relationship and opportunity for collaboration. Admittedly, sometimes the day to day of the business gets in the way of that followup; but, I, Chanceé, vow to do better this year. In fact, I have set aside weekly time just for this. It’s one of a few improvement areas that I am stretching into and certainly one where I think many of us can do a bit better.

What about you? Is there an area of improvement that you want to focus on for your business? What is it and how are you approaching it? Tell us about it in the comments.

Focus on making this your best year yet!

 Chanceé Lundy Russell is the Co-Founder of Nspiregreen LLC a community, multimodal, and environmental planning firm based in Washington, DC. The Selma, Alabama native received her BS in Environmental Science from Alabama A&M University and her MS in Civil Engineering from Florida State University. She is passionate about environmental justice issues and works to create healthy, livable communities for all.

 

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A TASTE OF PARIS: I Walked on Champs-Élysées

Time just flies quickly when you are having fun. The holiday season is upon us as we are ready to ring in the New Year.

As a continuation of the blog about my trip to Europe last summer where I wrote about the transportation system that I experienced in Amsterdam (see here); the second city in this series is Paris France.

Paris is one of my dream places in my bucket list and is well known for its beautiful architecture, streetscape, history, and culture. I have learned so much about the history of Paris and its planning theories. Furthermore, I am working in a city that was originally planned by Pierre Charles L’Enfant, the City Planner of Paris. Also, many Hollywood movies were shot in Paris (i.e., Midnight in Paris, Da Vinci Code) which made this city more attractive.

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What I Love About the City:

  • The beautiful architecture:

We stayed in downtown Paris. Most buildings were the typical Middle Age/Renaissance style (they were called “Gallo-Roman Style”) with delicate art sculpture, symmetric roof, and spectacular appearance. Everyone was so astonished by the beauty of the cathedral. Regular residential buildings can be full of art and character.

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Notre-Dame De Paris: I was so excited when I saw this cathedral in front of me! I read the book, Notre-Dame de Paris which played back like a movie in my mind when I touched the brick.

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Eiffel Tower: It was built in 1889 as the entrance to the 1889 World’s Fair. Despite its modern construction and architectural style, it blends well with the city and has become the iconic symbol in Paris.

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Basilica of Sacré-Cœur: This is an architecture that stands on a high point in the City of Montmartre. People called it the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, the white exterior gets its look due to special travertine stone quarried in Château-Landon (Seine-et-Marne).

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  • Transportation:

As an old city, the subway system is comparably older than Amsterdam. I was amazed that the trains were (at least what I saw) automobile based, and that many passengers get off the train while it is still on moving. Might that be a safety issue?

  • City Planning:

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The roads and buildings make the Paris city pattern so unique and classic. Obliviously, the king and people love squares and circles. This pattern provided great connectivity for the inner city. The most important road – Champs-Élysées serves as the arterial that links the Arc de Triomphe and Louvre Museum, which was the palace for generations of French leaders.

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What I Did Not Like:

Safety:

Although we vacationed in a safe neighborhood, we still encountered people trying to break into an apartment. We were also warned by locals that we needed to guard our personal belongings as pick-pocketing is rampant in the city. Luckily, we didn’t lose anything, however, the unsafe feeling was not very pleasant to deal with.

With the recent bombings in Paris, the security issues are becoming worse and worse. Paris is a beautiful city, it deserves everyone to love it. In my opinion, safety policies must change so we can all continue to enjoy one of the most spectacular global cities.

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

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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.





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