UrbanPlan Newsletter: Smith Gee Studio is Leading the Way in Affecting Change
In always striving to be our best selves in who we are and what we do...
January 12, 2023
At the foundation of every successful initiative is a guiding force focused on achieving the main objective. With UrbanPlan, it is the phenomenal group of ULI Nashville members who serve as the UrbanPlan steering committee. The steering committee is focused on establishing and scaling UrbanPlan to educate the Nashville community on the fundamentals of development. The 17-member strong team is also united by a desire to affect positive change in their communities, specifically in lives of youth.
Co-chairs Tara Myers of ESa and Dave Powell of HASTINGS Architecture have, throughout their careers dedicated time to causes that impact the lives of young people. In UrbanPlan, they see an opportunity to continue that commitment in a manner that supports the growth of a more diverse community of real estate and land use professionals in Nashville.
“Our industry suffers from a lack of racial and ethnic diversity, especially in the Nashville region,” Powell acknowledges. “This appears to be a ‘pipeline’ problem – getting high school students interested in pursuing architecture, planning, etc. at university. UrbanPlan is an excellent way to expose students to the profound impact planning and design has on neighborhoods and communities. I am excited to play a role in sharing this opportunity with students, hopefully encouraging some to pursue a career in design, planning, or other related professions.”
In speaking of her time working with youth-oriented organizations in Nashville, Myers notes the aspects of UrbanPlan that initially caught her interest, “I have spent the past several years volunteering for both ULI and in MNPS high schools through a business partnership with the Academies of Nashville. When I discovered UrbanPlan, I was moved by the power of the materials ULI has created and the potential impact the program can have in our schools. I am excited to see how we can use UP to create connections between students and Nashville’s development community.”
ULI Nashville introduced UrbanPlan with high school and college/university participants first. In January 2023 ULI Nashville will begin engaging community groups and similarly aligned organizations. The steering committee is currently offering support on the shift required to guide adults through the interactive exercise. Stacy Deru, Client Development Director at Engineered Advisory, and a steering committee member, is an experienced leader of guiding adults through the UrbanPlan exercise. Prior to relocating to Nashville, Deru was an UrbanPlan supporter and volunteer working almost exclusively with adult participants. Remarking on the difference between students and adults she notes that adults are “able to network and engage with peers as well as professionals from different walks of life and see the process through their eyes in a friendly, team-oriented environment,” and that “students are almost easier to lead through the process as they do not have pre-conceived ideas about how things should be and don’t bring biases to the table regarding green space, city council, other contributors to projects who are separate from their own vantage point.”
Matt Anderson, P.E. Director of Real Estate Services at AL. Neyer also serves on the UrbanPLan steering committee and brings multiple years of experience as an UrbanPlan volunteer and supporter in other ULI District Councils. Recently he and Deru completed certification, becoming Nashville’s first two UrbanPlan Workshop Instructors.
Ensuring the success of Nashville’s launch of UrbanPlan has required leadership strong in both strategy and execution. The volunteer members who comprise the steering committee are harnessing UrbanPlan to guide Nashville to a new, more diverse and equitable experience in real estate land development.
2023 UrbanPlan Steering Committee
Hawkins Partners, Inc.
Centric Architecture (Sponsor)
Smith Gee Studio (Sponsor)
Tara Myers (Co-Chair)
David Powell (Co-Chair)
Metro Nashville Planning Department
Studio Eight Design
Clarksville Montgomery County Regional Planning Commission
True North Consulting
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