Justin Zhang ’24
Building Capacity for Neighborhood Sustainability in New Orleans
Certificate(s): Visual Arts
I researched the rich history, culture, and power of the historically Black neighborhoods in the Broad Community Connections (BCC) service area, as well as the socio-environmental challenges they face. My co-intern and I conducted regular meetings and led presentations and workshops with community members, organizations, leaders and educators, among others. We listened to and read countless stories that spanned the inception of New Orleans to the present day. From our research, we produced a zine — a small booklet containing artwork and stories — about an imagined future of the BCC neighborhoods. The zine is intended to be copied and circulated throughout the community and to serve as an educational tool that prompts residents to see, imagine, and invest in a sustainable future. We also hope to bring publicity to the work of BCC and various environmental, health, educational, and commercial revitalization efforts in the area. I learned about the power of grassroots organizing, trust building, and genuine investment in community spaces and assets. Learning about the tragic pitfalls of engineering, planning, and design through this hands-on experience was alarming. I found that we have a responsibility to approach these fields more holistically, critically, and with more empathy and engagement toward communities to ensure a just and equitable future.
Broad Community Connections - New Orleans, Louisiana
Dasjon Jordan, Executive Director, Broad Community Connections; Chris Daemmrich, Visiting Assistant Professor, Phyllis M. Taylor Center for Social Innovation and Design Thinking, Tulane University