Over spring break, 2018 CIVITAS (the Latin word for cities) — UW Tacoma’s Urban Studies Club — headed to New Orleans for the fifth annual Urban Excursion.
Each year, UWT funds a trip to a city where Urban Studies students have the opportunity to apply course content to a real-life urban setting.
CIVITAS focused on a theme of resilient cities for this year’s Urban Excursion. After Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005, the city and its communities have had to recover and rebuild their homes and lives.
The members of CIVITAS went to New Orleans to understand Katrina’s impact on the city and how the city has displayed resilience.
On Wednesday March 21st, the group met with a Community Development Firm where they discussed how New Orleans East has recuperated after the damage of the hurricane and how they continue to push for more available resources in this area of the city.
Urban studies senior and vice president of CIVITAS, Rafael Regan, shares the impact goals of the annual excursion.
“The CIVITAS Urban Excursion helps to educate on issues which the Pacific Northwest does not have direct contact with in everyday life,” Regan said. “[This allows] Urban studies students to understand the many urban issues that plague different U.S. cities.”
Later in the week, CIVITAS gathered with a panel of community organizers and activists who are all affiliated with LINC New Orleans (listen, learn, love, link), a community organization dedicated to neighborhood change and community activism.
The panel and CIVITAS met to have a conversation regarding the efforts to grow and develop the communities and neighborhoods in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.
CIVITAS President Emily Casebear questioned the panel:
“In Tacoma we have a neighborhood called Hilltop which is historically lower income and predominantly African American. And lately we have seen the investment in this area and while it’s looking better, people are being pushed out. How were you able to come into a community and help invest without seeming like an outside person telling them what they need to do?”
Katy Williams, community organizer and member of LINC New Orleans, responded to Casebear’s question.
“Wherever you go to offer help you need to know the history, thorough history, from every perspective,” Williams said. ”You need to know Tacoma’s history in the big picture before you do anything. Unless you respect history it will repeat itself. Learning history, learning from others and learning from the people who are already doing it.”
The experiences and insight that CIVITAS members gathered while in New Orleans will be brought back to Tacoma where the urban studies department at UWT will work together to apply the insights to community building and revitalization in the Tacoma area.
CIVITAS will be presenting about the Urban Excursion in one of TURB 103’s course presentations during spring quarter 2018, where all UWT students are welcome to attend and listen.
To stay updated on the date of CIVITAS’s presentation
contact clubpresident, Emily Casebear at:
Alyssa majors in urban studies and community development. She is interested in and concerned about issues in Tacoma that impact the community. She is obsessed with all things chocolate and piggies.