Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Call to Action

Image provided by Zeewan Lee
Thursday, February 16, 2012 at 6:40 p.m., Sibley Hall 101

What do you like about the CRP program? What do you wish it had provided? Call to Action is an annual event in which CRP students gather to examine these questions and look at potential solutions. In the past, topics that have been discussed include the curriculum, career preparation, student advising, and life at Cornell. Not only is Call to Action a great way to communicate your experiences in the program, but it also provides practice building your planning skills. At Call to Action, student concerns are gathered, sorted, and then formally presented to the faculty in a Town Hall format. If you have questions about the event please contact Zeewan Lee.  Pizza will be provided! 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

SMART Trip: Zambia

Rebecca Gershon (MRP’12), Marion Smith (NS'13), Takako Hashida (CIPA'13), and Pratyush Ranjan Singh (IARD'12) also participated in the SMART program over the break. They worked with Catholic Relief Services (CRS) in Mongu, Zambia investigating ways to better address nutrition concerns within the organization’s already existing agricultural programs. Joining them to conduct field research were four Zambian students, each in a master’s program in nutrition or public health, and several staff members at CRS and Caritas Mongua, a non-profit working with the Diocese and CRS. Utilizing a nutrition framework developed by a professor at Cornell, the team of fifteen divided into four groups to conduct specialized research on health, nutrition, agriculture, and livelihoods. Each group conversed with approximately ten ‘key informants,’in the communities among which included ministers, local government officials, extension workers, non-profit sector leaders, and educators. In addition, each team conducted participatory exercises in three different rural villages around Mongu, to gain an understanding of the critical issues affecting nutrition from the residents.

The project relates to planning in the sense that they had to determine how best to address the needs of a community of people. Rebecca observed, “Not unlike rural poverty in the US, many of the villager’s challenges were related to a lack of reliable transportation, inaccessible services due to low income, poor rural infrastructure, and educational or language barriers.” Many of the villages and communities had become so accustomed to receiving sporadic assistance from NGO’s and NPO’s, that they have been conditioned into thinking they couldn’t solve their own problems. Rebecca attested that, “It’s a clear example of why planners need to start thinking more about food accessibility within their scope of work.”

Over the course of the spring semester the team will be compiling the information gathered and formulating recommendations for CRS. They hope that the insights gained from the interviews and focus groups will shed some light onto how nutrition status can be improved through efforts that CRS is already engaged in.

Giraffes in Chobe National Park. Image provided by Rebecca Gershon.

The team conducted a mapping exercise in a school in the village of Mweke.  Image provided by  Rebecca Gershon.

A group of mothers worked on a daily food chart in Imulunga.  Image provided by Rebecca Gershon.
(Information provided by Rebecca Gershon)

MRPers in Latin America, Part II

The Student Multidisciplinary Applied Research Team (SMART) Program, sponsored by the Cornell International Institute for Food, Agriculture, and Development (CIIFAD), connects teams of students and faculty from a variety of disciplines with firms, organizations, or community groups located in developing countries to work on sustainable global development projects. During the winter break, teams complete two to eight week assignments in a developing country. The program challenges students to apply the knowledge and skills learned in the classroom to help ameliorate problems related to global food security, sustainable rural development and environmental conservation.

In January, Kristofer Goddard (MRP’12), Maren Hill (MRP ’13), Ben Koffel (MRP ’12), and Stefanie Levner (MBA ’12) traveled to Honduras to participate in this program. Their client was AguaClara, a Cornell engineering organization that designs gravity-fed water treatment plants, built with locally available materials, and operated by technicians with less than a high school education. The primary task of the group was to document the success of the projects and develop a public relations plan and associated collateral that AguaClara could use to communicate with potential partners and donors. Throughout the two weeks the students were in Honduras they visited several communities with operating plants and met with local water board officials to learn more about the governance models that have made the plants successful. “The trip was a fantastic experience to collaborate so closely with engineers and to understand both the technology and the governance structures that enable successful municipal service delivery in emerging markets,” said Ben Koffel. Professor Mildred Warner also joined the students for a few days to investigate the governance models that go alongside the technology. Students also recorded and conducted approximately forty interviews with users about the impact that clean water has on their health. This information will be used to help AguaClara communicate its successes.

Professor Mildred Warner and SMART team members Ben Koffel, Maren Hill, Kris Goddard, and Stefanie Levner spent time interviewing community members to generate public relations collateral that the organization could use to better communicate their message.  Image provided by Ben Koffel. 
 The team  visited a water treatment plant designed by the AguaClara team at Cornell in the town of Alauca, Honduras.  There, students learned about how the community is involved in operating the plants and managing their service delivery.  Image provided by Ben Koffel.

(Information provided by Ben Koffel)

DesignConnect Spring Projects

This semester, DesignConnect, Cornell’s student-run community planning and design organization, not only has new officers but also has six new projects in the pipes.  Students have the choice of working on a revitalization strategy for downtown Elmira, assisting the Village of Spencer with a comprehensive plan, drafting recommendations on the revitalization of the Dewitt Mall, generating design suggestions for a local recreation way, engaging community members in a dialogue about pedestrian and bike access-ways along Six-Mile Creek, or providing input on the development of a grocery store in Collegetown.  Whether you are interested in economic redevelopment, transportation, historic preservation, open space, or issues of equity there is a project for you.   What often draws students to the organization are the opportunities to apply classroom principles, develop planning skills, and take a leadership role on campus.  "DesignConnect gave me the opportunity to work with a real client, it was really challenging but I learned what it takes to produce meaningful work a community, and it was amazing to see our plans and design actually used!” said a prior DesignConnect participant. Although most participants hail from the city and regional planning, landscape architecture, or architecture programs, students from all majors are welcome to participate. For full descriptions of the current projects visit the DesignConnect website.  Questions about DesignConnect can be sent to designconnectcornell@gmail.com

CRP Skills Development Workshops

This semester, CRP is offering a series of free Skills Development Workshops organized and led by students for students.  Many of these sessions are being peer-led. While students will not receive credit for attending these workshops, participants will get the opportunity to learn or hone important skills that will assist them in their graduate studies and beyond.  These sessions are intended to be both useful AND enjoyable! Refreshments will also be served at all workshops, with the exception of those taking place in the computer lab.

Friday 17th February
Introduction to Adobe PhotoShop and InDesign Workshop
4pm - 6pm, Sibley Rm 305 (Third Floor Lab)
Grace Zheng, Cristen Chinea

Friday 24th February
Introduction to AutoCAD and Sketchup
4pm - 6pm, Sibley Rm 305 (Third Floor Lab)
Tomas Moller-Holtkamp, Vidhee Garg

Friday 9th March
Tricks to Research: Learning RefWorks
3pm - 4pm, Sibley Rm 305
Jim Knower (Mann Library)

Tuesday 13th March
Basics of Real Estate Finance: De-Mystifying the Pro-Forma.
4.30pm - 6pm, Sibley Rm 115
Robert Lewis

Tuesday 27th March
Participatory Tools for International Development
4.30pm - 6.30pm, Sibley Rm 115
Eva Birk, Marshall McCormick

Friday 6th April
Introduction to Historical Preservation
3pm – 5pm, Sibley Rm 115
(Presenters TBC)

** Other tentative sessions that are currently waiting for confirmation on scheduling are 'Dynamic Presentations' (Presented by Tony Liao and Christopher Langone, Dept of Communication) and 'Media, Press, and Lobbying' (tentative title).

(Information provided by Lindsay Carter)

Seminar on International Planning

Image provided by Maren Hill
The Seminar on International Planning is a weekly speaker series led and coordinated by Professor Neema Kudva that addresses a variety of development, urbanization, and planning related issues across the world. This semester, topics range from citizen engagement to disaster resilience and rights and property development to sustainable development. The seminar is held every Friday from 12:20 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. in Abby and Howard Milstein Auditorium in Milstein Hall. Students may enroll in the seminar for one credit. More information including talk abstracts and short bios can be found by following the links below or by visiting the Cornell City and Regional Planning Department website


Jan 27:
Introduction - Neema Kudva

Feb 3:
John Gaventa, Director, Coady International Institute, VP of International Development, St. Francis Xavier University
Seeing Like a Citizen: Strategies for Citizen Engagement in the Global South

Feb 10:
Elliot Bronstein and Jacque Larrainzar, City of Seattle
The Seattle Race and Social Justice Initiative: What happens when a city government decides to end racism?

Feb 17:
Victoria Beard, Associate Professor of Planning, Policy and Design at the University of California at Irvine
Community-Based Planning and Urban Poverty in Southeast Asia

Feb 21: 
Faranak Miraftab, Associate Professor, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Transnational Developments: Rethinking Local and Global in CommunityDevelopment Processes

Feb 24: 
Mi Shih, China Research Centre at the University of Technology, Sydney
Rights, Property Development, and Urban Planning in Transitional China

March 2:
Pamela Jerome, Wank Adams Slavin Associates and Columbia University
The Challenges of being a Female Preservation Architect working in the Middle East

March 9: 
Marie Cieri, Co-Director, Artists-in-Context, Cambridge, MA;
Critic in Graduate Studies, Rhode Island School of Design Adventures in Alternative Mapping

March 16/23: 
No talk (spring break)

March 30: 
Andrew Rumbach, University of Hawaii at Manoa
The Family, the Fale, and the Village: Planning for Disaster Resilience in American Samoa

April 6: 
The Sustainable Rural Cities Project in Chiapas, Workshop Project, CRP-Fall 2011
A Rights-based Analysis of the Sustainable Rural Cities Program in Chiapas, Mexico

April 13: 
Design Tactics and Informality Conference, AAP —
Rahul Mehrotra, Neil Gershenfeldt, Alfredo Brillembourg, Priti Parikh

April 20:
Paul Smoke, Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, New York University
The Emergence of Recentralization in Developing Countries: Forms, Motivations and Consequences

April 27:

May 4:

Transportation Research Board Conference

Image source: http://www.trb.org
Recently, Ben Cummins (MRP '13), Viktor Zhong (MRP '12), Katie Filardo (MRP '13), and Professor Mike Manville attended the Annual Transportation Research Board Conference in Washington, D.C. The conference, which represents the 91st meeting of the transportation industry, brought together policy makers, administrators, practitioners, researchers, and representatives of government, industry, and academic institutions to discuss all modes of transportation whether it be highway, rail, freight, water, or air. The conference included five days of workshops, conference sessions, and poster sessions ranging in topic from everything between pavement mixtures and carsharing. Participants were able to use an online interactive program to develop an itinerary tailored to their interests.

Students enjoyed the opportunity to interact with leading professionals in the field throughout the event. “I would strongly recommend this conference for anyone interested in transportation - any aspect of it really, whether it is domestically or internationally,” said Viktor Zhong. “Basically, you can meet the people at the forefront of transportation development, research, advocacy, etc.” Even Ray LaHood, the United States Secretary of Transportation was in attendance. Students also noted that the conference was a great networking opportunity to find internships and jobs.   

(Information provided by Viktor Zhong)