Announcing the 2014-15 Loeb Fellows

The Loeb Fellowship cast a wide net for next year’s Fellows and once again has selected practitioners logging extraordinary successes to achieve equity and enhance our built and natural environment. Their work encompasses sustainable agriculture and food security, traditional practices for tribal community development, water rights and coastal resiliency. They are leading pop-up neighborhood improvement demonstrations and studying pop-up political resistance. They are saying No to sprawl and Yes to affordable housing and livable streets. And they include the Fellowship’s first television talk show host!

Meet the 2014-15 Loeb class:

Former city councilor and television talk show host Gísli Marteinn Baldursson has been a key figure in putting sustainable urban planning on the political agenda in Reykjavík and Iceland. Concerned with increasing urban sprawl, air and water pollution, traffic congestion and public health issues, he has devoted himself to the improvement of his city by writing, speaking and building consensus for re-densification and smart planning. He looks forward to the Fellowship to gain technical and theoretical expertise that will make him more effective in communicating about urban issues and mobilizing public support for difficult or controversial measures.

Through her built work and advocacy, Santa Fe architect Jamie Blosser has used design, facilitation and research to increase Native American communities’ involvement in the critical decisions that affect them. She has designed community engagement processes informed by traditional practices with 18 tribes throughout the western US to remove barriers to self-determination and sovereignty, winning numerous national awards. Blosser’s Sustainable Native Communities Collaborative offers technical assistance for culturally and environmentally sustainable affordable tribal housing and has highlighted an exciting paradigm shift in tribal housing toward long-term sustainability. She’ll use the Fellowship to develop a cohesive framework for her practice through research on sustainable community development models and resiliency planning principles in other marginalized communities around the world.

Scott Campbell, director of the Palmer Land Trust, works at the intersection of conservation, preservation, economics, and community development in southern Colorado—where radically juxtaposed trends of growth and decline are due to consumptive land use patterns and competition for scarce water resources.  His leadership resulted in the protection of 25,000 acres of natural and agricultural lands and launched 40,000 acres of conservation projects currently underway.  He is the author of award-winning conservation plans that outline pathways to halt destructive development practices, boost agricultural productivity, and guarantee reliable water supplies for farms and cities. Campbell will use his Fellowship to hone his understanding of the political, social, and market forces that shape conservation outcomes for more equitable natural resource allocation.

Shahira Fahmy, an architect from Cairo, has been hailed as one of the “architects building the Arab Future,” and has won international honors for her architectural work. Her real goal is assisting the public to retake ownership of her city. Within the current volatile political and social situation in Egypt, she sees in the pop-up resistance activities around Cairo an opportunity to achieve greater transparency and control. Her Fellowship will be an opportunity to better understand the new social, physical and political urban conditions and examine other cities for innovative prototypes and methods for dealing with volatile public space.             

As CEO of Pittsburgh Community Improvement Association in Atlanta, LaShawn Hoffman has helped vulnerable homeowners navigate the foreclosure crisis and recession and has spearheaded community improvement efforts in a state with no public policy to protect affordable housing. He has facilitated community-based planning to achieve conservation and growth that ensures neighborhood preservation and diversity. The Loeb year will give him a chance to narrow his formal training gap for greater understanding of community economic development and his own region so he can work toward sound public policy.

Andrew Howard, a Dallas-based urban planner with 14 years in transportation and land development planning, is co-founder of the Better Block project and a principal at Team Better Block consulting. Now being used in over 60 cities and 3 nations, the Better Block demonstrates how temporarily breaking zoning laws and street design standards on a single city block can build momentum for long-term financial, social and environmental change in cities. As a Loeb Fellow Howard will document the transformations inspired by the Better Block and motivate others to take leadership in their communities.

Maria Jaakkola, landscape architect, visual artist and head of Helsinki City Planning Department Environmental Office since 2008, is positioned to be a shaper of her city’s future. The Helsinki Master Plan under development is focused on increasing urban density to accommodate population growth. Jaakkola initiated a Green Areas Strategy to address issues with impact on livability: the balance between built and green, density limits, adaptation to climate change, healthy lifestyles and ecosystem services. She will use her Loeb year to teach and learn, expand professional networks and gather case studies with the potential to influence positive outcomes in Helsinki.

As a real estate developer and mortgage banker and now as director of UPSTATE, a Center for Design Research and Real Estate at Syracuse University School of Architecture, Marc Norman has dedicated his career to reducing inequality and promoting economic development and social justice. He has engaged financial, community planning and design professionals to create innovative strategies for everything from prison re-entry to storm water mitigation in order to reduce housing costs, expand access to education and employment and promote healthy communities. Norman will use his Loeb year to launch a Design Innovation Fund that supports smart, progressive, holistic approaches to a more equitable urban world.

As an urban designer for NYC when Hurricane Sandy hit, Thaddeus Pawlowski already had been working to shift the city’s storm focus from evacuation and shelter to building for greater resilience. He was uniquely situated to assist the city’s recovery as planning advisor in the NYC Mayor's Office of Housing Recovery Operations. Months earlier he had convened 80 respected architects to develop design principles for the flood zone and recommend zoning changes that were subsequently adopted. He collaborated on a playbook for deploying post-disaster temporary housing to facilitate consensus-based comprehensive planning. In the coming year, Pawlowski plans to document the lessons he learned, research models from other cities and craft recommendations for improvement.

Kolu Zigbi, program director for Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems at the Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation, has spent 13 years removing barriers to a more vibrant, equitable and sustainable food system. She has helped organizations and low-income communities throughout the US nurture ecological and urban farming, preserve land, develop innovative distribution systems, revitalize traditional food cultures and grow diverse leadership. Zigbi will use her Loeb Fellowship to explore food-oriented development that spans the rural-urban continuum and builds health and wealth within low-income communities internationally.

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