Voorhees Center for Civic Engagement announces fall “Rethinking the City” lecture series—Leigh Graham, September 30

September 26, 2013

The Bloustein School’s Ralph W. Voorhees Center for Civic Engagement has announced its fall 2013 lecture series, Rethinking the City, which seeks to promote how people and communities can shape the life and future of our cities in the face of today’s challenges and opportunities. The lunchtime lectures will begin at 12:45 p.m. and will be held in Room 113 of the Bloustein School’s Civic Square Building, 33 Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick, N.J.


The series’ first event will be held on Monday, September 30. Leigh Graham, a professor in the master of public administration program at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY, will present “Planning Treme: The Community Development Field in a Post-Katrina World.” A network of community development organizations in post-Katrina New Orleans saw their unprecedented efforts to equitably redevelop the city as seeding a renewed social movement for economic and racial justice that would result in the self-determination of local low-income communities of color. Yet chronic tension between the community development field’s enduring movement aims and its institutionalized practices emphasizing housing production seriously constrained the Network’s efforts. Specifically, three mechanisms of institutionalization stratify the field and constrain its movement aims: a) the marketization of community development, b) the reformation of poverty, and c) the radicalization of community organizing repertoires.In New Orleans, organizational collaboration broke apart over two competing strategies that reflect the field’s persistent dichotomy between development- and organizing-led approaches. This unanticipated polarization proved instructive. Economic human rights and equitable development activism has grown out of the network and the Gulf Coast. This suggests possibilities for movement renewal in the institutionalized community development field, particularly by re-appropriating the mechanisms of marketization, poverty reform, and the radicalization of community organizing.

Leigh Graham joined the John Jay faculty in the fall of 2012. Previously, she was a member of the urban policy program at The New School for Social Research. Her scholarship focuses on organizational, strategic and cultural conflict in urban development and during periods of crisis and change  including after disasters.  Her work has been published in Housing Policy DebateEconomic Development QuarterlyIndustrial & Corporate ChangeSolutions, and on the Poverty in America blog (now Economic Justice) at Change.org. Graham spent five years as a consultant on housing and neighborhood recovery in the post-Hurricane Katrina Gulf Coast. She has also advised non-profit clients on economic development issues and political advocacy efforts. Her clients have included The Ford Foundation, The Louisiana Disaster Recovery Foundation, Alternatives for Community & Environment in Roxbury, MA, and the Women’s Dignity Project in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

Graham also lead a technical assistance program for small businesses in Lower Manhattan after September 11th and was the Subject Matter Expert on small business recovery for the 9/11 United Services Group. Professor Graham has a Ph.D. in Urban Studies and Planning from MIT, an MBA from NYU, and a BA in Sociology from Brandeis University.

Additional RWV lunchtime lectures this fall include:

Monday, October 21: Transcultural Community Building: The Road Less Traveled
Caitlin Cahill, Pratt Institute

Monday, November 11: The Body and Food Insecurity: Visceral Methods with Internally Displaced Women in Columbia
by Elizabeth L. Sweet and Allison Hayes-Conroy, Temple University

Monday, December 9: Inclusionary Zoning and Exclusionary Development: The Politics of Affordable Housing in Greenpoint-Williamsburg
by Filip Stabrowski, Hunter College


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