Notes from New Orleans: Victory for Citizen-Driven City Planning

Posted on: November 6th, 2008 by Walter Gallas

 

Along with all the other exciting developments on election day, came the news from the New Orleans electorate that a majority of them want a master plan with the force of law, tied to the comprehensive zoning ordinance, and offering a legislated citizen participation component. All of this locked in through the passage of an amendment to the New Orleans City Charter. The result was a real squeaker--passing by only two percentage points, 51 percent for, 49 percent against, but a victory nonetheless.

On Monday, I stood at a press conference called by City Council president Jackie Clarkson. Scores of New Orleanians representing a coalition for the passage of the charter amendment attended. On election day, signs simply saying "NO" were planted on the neutral grounds of streets around town, but it was clear what they were referring to. Countering this was a television, sign, and leaflet campaign urging "Vote Yes for Citizen-Driven City Planning." Clearly it convinced enough people to bring the approval numbers over the top, despite lots of misunderstanding about what really was being voted on.

Now we return to the process already underway. Another citywide planning forum is this Saturday. Meetings at the neighborhood level are next week. The effort is under the primary direction of the consulting firm Goody Clancy of Boston.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

 

President-Elect Barack Obama. (Photo: BarackObama.com)

President-Elect Barack Obama. (Photo: BarackObama.com)

Here at the National Trust for Historic Preservation, we take pride in the fact that we have supporters of all political stripes. A love of, and respect for, the places that matter to us as people and as a nation transcends ideology; historic preservation is a cause that has room for everyone. And just as President-Elect Obama last night told the nation that he'd work to be everyone's president -- even of those whose votes he didn't receive -- we also want to be a preservation organization that speaks for all of us.

We've crafted a preservation platform that we will soon deliver to the transition team. Take our platform survey now to make your voice heard in our goals for our new administration.

Last night, Barack Obama made history. Every day, with your help, we work to save it.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Sarah Heffern

Sarah Heffern

Sarah Heffern is the social media strategist for the National Trust’s Public Affairs team. While she embraces all things online and pixel-centric, she’s also a hard-core building hugger, having fallen for preservation in a fifth grade “Built Environment” class.

The Global Family of National Trusts

Posted on: November 5th, 2008 by David J. Brown

 

Most Americans spent election night in front of the television or computer. Depending on their reaction to the outcome, that may have been followed by either celebrations or a quick crawl under the covers.

But I spent the evening on a plane to Slovakia.

That seems a strange destination as winter approaches, but I was headed to an executive committee meeting of the International National Trusts Organisation (or INTO). We are being hosted by the National Trust of Slovakia in a meeting that will combine INTO internal work and outreach to this small but thriving member of the global family of National Trusts.

This is actually a two-part meeting, but the election kept me away from the first session. On November 3rd, London’s Canada House – home of the Canadian High Commission – hosted an event celebrating the opening of the INTO Secretariat in that city. INTO is a network of National Trusts and similar organizations from around the world, united by their common interest in the conservation and enjoyment of our intangible and tangible heritage – both cultural and natural.

INTO’s mission is

to promote the conservation and enhancement of the cultural and natural heritage of all nations for the benefit of the people of the world, which it aims to achieve through cooperation, coordination and comradeship between the international community of National Trusts, the development and promotion of best conservation practices, increasing the capacity of individual organizations, establishing Trusts where they do not presently exist, and advocacy in the interests of heritage conservation.

That’s an ambitious agenda. Yet it mirrors what we do every day here in America at the National Trust for Historic Preservation in the United States (our official name). And it only makes sense – in this increasingly interconnected global environment – to work with like-minded colleagues from non-governmental organizations to both learn and share in the effort to save the places that matter in communities across the world.

As an INTO press release reported, top Australian environmental lawyer and Chairman of INTO Simon Molesworth, speaking at the Canada House event, stressed that National Trusts are well placed to deal with economic, environmental and social change in the 21st century.

“Many people think that National Trusts are primarily concerned with the past,” noted Molesworth. “In fact we have to understand the world around us today and although we can’t predict the future, we can explore the forces shaping change. This helps us to identify potential future unique opportunities for the National Trust movement.”

INTO was formed in 2007, at a time when built and natural heritage all over the world is under increasing threat from neglect, environmental change, conflict and disaster. But, as INTO’s Director of Finance Geoffrey Read noted, “Increased global trade, physical and digital connections and economic change are having a growing influence on Trusts and international cooperation – the sharing of experience and knowledge, making the best use of limited resources, avoiding duplication – is becoming ever more important. This is a great opportunity for the unique skills and mindset of the National Trust movement to broaden our contribution in support of the world’s marvelous living and built heritage.”

So over the next few days I’ll be reporting through PreservationNation on what we could call “PreservationInternational.” And if you want to learn more about this new organization called INTO, check out the newly launched web site. The electronic newsletters posted there are our first efforts to share the wealth of what the global National Trust community has to offer.

***

David J. Brown is Executive Vice President of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Help Save New Orleans’ Charity Hospital and the Adjacent Mid-City Historic Neighborhood

Posted on: November 4th, 2008 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 43 Comments

 

Back in May, we listed Charity Hospital and its adjacent Mid-City neighborhood to our annual list of America's 11 Most Endangered Places. The threat is has become even more imminent, and we we need your help. Voice your concerns now to change a potentially disastrous course -- one that would leave this major New Orleans landmark to an uncertain fate, abandon an already-struggling downtown, and destroy at least 18 square blocks of a historic neighborhood.

New Orleans is poised to lose Charity Hospital and the VA Medical Center. The relocation plans of these two institutions call for the needless demolition of more than 165 historic homes -- at least 18 square blocks -- within the lower Mid-City National Register District. Bulldozing this historic neighborhood would not only betray the residents of New Orleans, who are working so hard to rebuild their communities, but could easily be avoided. The rehabilitation of iconic Charity Hospital, and a nearby alternative site for the VA, would avoid the demolition of even a single historic property.

Please act now to help us prevent the needless destruction of historic and cultural resources triggered by ill-advised and short-sighted planning.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.

January Decision May Seal the Fate of Nine Mile Canyon

Posted on: November 4th, 2008 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

 

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will not release the Final Environmental Impact Statement (Final EIS) for the West Tavaputs Natural Gas Full Field Development Plan (WTP Plan) this week as we reported last Friday. Rather, BLM will likely issue the Final EIS sometime in January 2009.

The WTP Plan, a proposal by the Bill Barrett Corporation to construct over 800 natural gas wells on the WTP, could cause truck traffic in Nine Mile Canyon to increase by an additional 500 percent, which would in turn expose rock art panels in the canyon to potentially harmful amounts of dust, chemical dust suppressants and vehicle exhaust. Check back in with PreservationNation in January for additional information on the Final EIS and WTP Plan and ways in which you can express your concerns for this proposal to BLM.

– Ti Hays

Ti Hays is the Public Lands Counsel for the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.