duany dance under the moonlight
I can honestly say that every morning I wake up with pretty much no idea of what my day holds. In addition to the everyday uncertainties of constant contact with New Orleans and New Orleanians, the shifting planning landscape ensures that by day’s end I often have an entirely different set of expectations than I had over my first sip of coffee. I’m starting to become neurotic about attending as many planning meetings as possible for fear that I may miss something huge.
Tonight my roommate made shrimp for dinner. I had gotten a few pounds of Louisiana shrimp at the White Boot Brigade Festival a couple of weekends ago, and we were starting to have a hankerin’ for some seafood. I mention this not because it is particularly significant to eat shrimp in New Orleans but because it illustrates why I was anxious to get home. It’s hard for a Louisiana girl to think of anything else when there’s shrimp on the stove.
Unfortunately, the shrimp had to wait because I am, as I mentioned, neurotic about missing planning meetings. I headed off to the Gentilly Civic Improvement Association‘s land use and zoning committee meeting, a weekly event that generally doesn’t include very much drama. The discussion generally centers around things like “design overlays,” with voices only starting to rise when people get to talking about the Army Corps of Engineers.
This week was different. As I sat there with my laptop and diet Coke, passively dreaming about the shrimp I was going eat, a vision appeared in the periphery. A tweed-clad silhouette with an cartoonish smile and a large document under his arm. It was Andres Duany.
Now for those of you who aren’t urban planners, I’ll start by saying that Duany is the closest thing the planning world has to a rock star. More accurately, he’s the closest thing we have to Ann Coulter. He presents a holistic worldview about ideal urban planning, but in the end his ideas only really work for rich communities. And most academics think he’s a pompous ass. So imagine our surprise when the man himself, the messiah of the new urbanity, walked in the room. Support my my neurotic meeting attendance. You never know what’ll happen.
This discussion – the shrimp and all – is my circuitous way of saying that the new GNOF/Rockefeller planning process is getting underway. I am assuming that Duany is here to interview with the GNOF people in response to their recent RFQ. In the coming weeks neighborhoods are going to be making a lot of decisions, and I’m assuming that many of them will be divisive. Will they stick with the planners they have or interview new planning teams? Will they buy in to the new unified planning process or oppose the non-transparent methods used to create its structure?
I’m still not sure where I stand on all of these issues. Maybe I’ll know by tomorrow night.