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Newsletter Fall 2019 Highlights: Awards Program Updates Student Internships AL City Year Program Faculty Updates


AUSPA EVENTS AUSPA is a student organization that supports professional development, fellowship and practical experience for planning students and others. This semester, AUSPA welcomed a new interim president and vice president. AUSPA will host elections for officers this fall. AUSPA had another successful semester with the following events: Social Welcome with Lemonade & Cookies Guest Speakers Phoenix Carson Charles Ball Professional Development Grant Writing with Daniel Yurcaba GIS workshops with Taylor Esco & Rajas Bhalerao Conference AL/MS APA Conference in Huntsville, AL

Taylor Esco, Natasha Miles, and Yiren Zhou were awarded the 2019 Distinguished Leadership Award for a Planning Student/Team for their project entitled "2035 Wellness District Master Plan for Dothan, AL" at the 2019 AL-MS American Planning Association conference in Huntsville, AL! Their project was an assignment in Dr. Byahut’s Spring 2019 Synthesis Studio. The team was tasked with generating a comprehensive analysis for the Wellness District of Dothan, Alabama. The goals of the project were: • • • • •

To re-envision the corridor connectivity Analyze land use Focus on bike and pedestrian safety and infrastructure Study place-making Boost economic development opportunity for the Wellness District of Dothan.

MCP Program Ranked Among Best in USA FOLLOW US @AU.MCP @AuburnMCP auspa.wordpress.edu

CONTACT US Dr. Jay Mittal (334)‐844‐ 8409 jzm0029@auburn.edu

For the first time, the Auburn University Master of Community Planning program is featured as a top program in the “2019 Planetizen Guide to Graduate Urban Planning Programs.” Among “Top Small Programs,” the AU MCP program is ranked tenth nationally. Among “Largest Percentage of Minority Representation” programs, the AU MCP program is ranked sixth. Thanks to the students, faculty, advisory council, and department for your amazing work and outstanding efforts.

From Auburn to Hunstville, and beyond “Attending the URISA GIS Pro 2019 in New Orleans was an exciting experience and not only helped me learn new skills about GIS but also gave me an opportunity to connect with numerous professionals in the field!” -Rajas Bhalerao “I really enjoyed presenting at the AL-MS APA Conference. I received a lot of constructive observation as well as suggestions to improve my project.” -Maria Almonacid “My experience in Huntsville provided me with the opportunity to network with planning professionals from across the country, gather expert feedback on my project, and develop connections with students enrolled in other planning programs.” -Joshua Copeland “I was able to chat with professors and students from different planning schools, alumni from Auburn's program who are out in the field, regional and city planners from across the South, and even had a thoughtful discussion with the CEO of the American Planning Association.” –Scott Berson “I had a great experience at the AL-MS APA Conference in Huntsville. It was nice learning about the different practices that are effective for cities, and networking with seasoned and young professional in the field.” –Donnicha London

Donnicha London spent her summer interning with the City/Parish of East Baton Rouge Planning Commission in Baton Rouge, LA as a Long-Range Division Planning Intern. Brad Wylam did his summer internship with Scott County, Iowa- Planning and Development as a Planning Intern. Joshua Copeland interned this summer with the Regional Planning Commission of Greater Birmingham in Birmingham, AL. Michaela Bostick spent her summer interning with the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority in Richmond, VA as the Community and Communications Intern. Joe Nisbett spent his summer interning in Birmingham, AL as a Landscape Architect Intern. Rajas Bhalerao spent his summer interning with Auburn University Facilities ManagementOffice of University Architect as a Campus Planning/ GIS Analyst Intern. Taylor Esco spent her summer interning with Auburn University Facilities Management as a Design Administration Intern.

Student Presentations Natasha Miles participated in the 2019 AL-MS APA student poster presentations. She presented a summary of her research on the history of cannabis as well as discussed her thoughts on practical cannabis zoning practices. Rajas Bhalerao took part in URISA Students Web Competition where he presented a GIS-based project named “Economic Development Opportunities for Counties in Western Alabama.” Maria Almonacid presented a poster at the AL-MS APA conference about an alternative and sustainable transportation for Auburn residents entitled “TigerWheels.” Taylor Esco participated in the Student & Young Professionals Digital Competition hosted by URISA’s Vanguard Cabinet in the summer of 2019 and was awarded 2nd place in the competition. At the URISA GIS-Pro conference in New Orleans in October 2019, she presented her project called “Who is Socially Vulnerable in Oktibbeha County, Mississippi to Tornadoes & How do Planning Practices Influence Safety?" Joshua Copeland presented a poster at the AL-MS APA titled “Planning for Natural Disasters: A Geospatial Analysis of the Effects of Hurricane Ivan on Alabama and Florida.” Joseph Nisbett presented preliminary findings related to research on green infrastructure planning in the MS-AL coastal region at the Alabama Water Resources conference in September in Orange Beach, AL and at the AL-MS APA conference in October in Huntsville, AL.

Synthesis Studio Heads to Pell City Team of students works on brownfield redevelopment During the fall 2019 semester, students in Dr. Mittal’s Synthesis Studio are working on developing several planning projects for Pell City, AL. This project is geared towards brownfield redevelopment of 14 sites throughout the city. The synthesis studio students combine their knowledge from all previous courses to complete the project and present it to city and area leaders.

Pell City is located within St. Clair County, Alabama. It was founded in 1890 and was incorporated in 1891. Pell City is home to 13,676 residents and sits in a unique location that is rapidly growing. In efforts to increase economic benefits, reuse, revitalize, and encourage community development in Pell City, students aid in the research of brownfield redevelopment to address issues, strategize, and create solutions. With the support of Pell City officials, ADEM, and the Regional Planning Commission of Greater Birmingham, students in this class are analyzing the greater Pell City region. Students first identify key planning issues, challenges, and concerns that the city faces (both now and potentially in the future). Then students develop strategies and an action plan for the city while using the brownfield sites for nodal developments to make the city more attractive and livable for its citizens.

Alabama City Year Program The hallmark of Auburn University's Master of Community Planning (MCP) program is the opportunity for students to engage with communities throughout Alabama and the Southeast in nearly every class. Every year, the MCP program chooses a community to work with. That community becomes the central focus for projects in classes such as Urban Economics, Land Use Planning, Urban Design, Sustainable Transportation Planning, Community Development, Historic Preservation Planning, and Synthesis Studio. Through these projects, students learn to help diverse and complex communities create and implement plans that improve and protect their quality of life, culture, resource base, built environment, natural environment, and economic vitality. During the spring 2019 semester, the MCP program partnered with the cities of Dothan, and Opelika.

First Year Students: What do you think so far? My first semester has been an overall great experience so far. I had my doubts about whether or not I would actually be interested in planning before the semester started but have come to realize that this is an area I have a passion for. I also entered this program without knowing a single person in it and have already met several awesome people that I can see myself having connections with throughout my career. There has been way more reading and writing in the course work than I expected, but this has been beneficial to quickly expand my knowledge of planning and the factors involved in it. The professors have all been very accommodating and it has been great getting to know them (even if all the projects seem to be due at the same time). Overall it has been a great semester. I look forward to the rest of my time in the MCP program and one day working as a planner. -Matthew “Matt” Hardegree

My first year in the MCP program has been challenging and engaging. Each course is like a dense puzzle piece, which you can plug into the "picture" that you'll have at the end of the program that shows what kind of planning you’re interested in pursuing. I think the best part of this program is the support among students. There's a lot to be said for how students in the program help each other, bounce ideas off each other, critique each other, and generally boost the level of learning through discussion and camaraderie. That's not common in a lot of places and combined with the program's great (and now top-ranked!) focus on diversity, it winds up being major part of what makes MCP. -Scott Berson

FACULTY UPDATES Dr. Jay Mittal received a fellowship from the Netherlands government to participate in a two-week shortcourse on “Urban Heritage Strategies (UHS),” at the Institute for Housing and Urban Development. He has coauthored two book chapters with Dr. Sweta Byahut. The first is entitled, “An Analysis of Planning Initiatives and Best Practices in Ahmedabad,” in the book Planning Megacities in the Global South, edited by D. Rukmana and published by Routledge, T&F. The second is, “Can Haphazard Growth in Urban Villages be Planned? Evidence from the Ahmedabad-Gandhinagar Region in India,” included in the book Smart Village Technology: Concepts and Design, edited by S. Sen et al., and published by Springer. Dr. Megan Heim-LaFrombois continues to work on research being funding through the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium, along with Dr. Sweta Byahut and Dr. Charlene LeBleu, that seeks to improve the quality of coastal communities’ comprehensive plans and quality of life by incorporating key concepts of green infrastructure planning. Dr. Heim-LaFrombois, MCP graduate Daniel Yurcaba, and Dr. Yunmi Park, former MCP faculty, recently published a paper titled “How US Shrinking Cities Plan for Change: Comparing Population Projections and Planning Strategies in Depopulating US Cities,” in the Journal of Planning Education and Research. Dr. Becki Retzlaff’s article titled “Desegregation of City Parks and the Civil Rights Movement: The Case of Oak Park in Montgomery, Alabama,” was recently published in the Journal of Urban History. She also published the 2019 edition of Ohio Planning and Zoning Law with Stuart Meck, Kenneth Pearlman, Alan Weinstein, and John Bredin. Dr. Retzlaff recently presented at the American City and Regional Planning History Conference in Washington, D.C. Dr. Sweta Byahut has co-authored two book chapters with Dr. Jay Mittal. The first is entitled, “An Analysis of Planning Initiatives and Best Practices in Ahmedabad,” in the book Planning Megacities in the Global South, edited by D. Rukmana and published by Routledge. The second is, “Can Haphazard Growth in Urban Villages be Planned? Evidence from the Ahmedabad-Gandhinagar Region in India,” included in the book Smart Village Technology: Concepts and Design, edited by S. Sen et al., and published by Springer. Dr. Byahut is currently studying the impact of local flooding through green infrastructure planning on a collaborative grant-funded research project. She is also working on another collaborative grant-funded study for updating the social indicators for child abuse and neglect prevention. Dr. Byahut was recently elected as the Secretary/Treasurer of the FWIG, the ACSP Faculty Women's Interest Group, for a two-year term and recognized at the FWIG luncheon at the annual ACSP conference in Greenville, SC.

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Fall 2019 MCP Newsletter  

Fall 2019 MCP Newsletter  

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