In the past few months I have been contacted by people outside of New Orleans trying to figure out Neighborland and its business model as it begins to pop-up in their own cities. After reading Neighborland Is Not a Neighbor, respondents are confused as to why the original piece was retracted. I share that confusion, but the following post will hopefully address questions received from afar.

Other observers have asked Neighborland to reply to the criticisms made on Neighborland Is Not a Neighbor, however Neighborland contends that due to The Lens’ retraction the opinion is entirely without merit and should be ignored. Almost a free pass. Yet a recent article in the University of California’s Berkeley Planning Journal by Aaron Shapiro, “The Tactics That Be” highlights the challenges that remain for Tactical Urbanism practitioners, whether non-profit (as in the case of St. Claude Main Street) or private companies such as Neighborland as they approach the business of community engagement.

The first reason given by The Lens for the retraction was the assertion of Candy Chang’s role within the grant partnership. Additionally, Chang denied said partnership and insisted she/Civic Center were only “hired” by the local organization, despite both SCMS and Artplace’s reported emphasis on the importance of Chang’s partnership for the project. I address that here:

The second reason for the retraction was the suggestion that a “large portion” of the funding for the “Parkette Program” was devoted to parkettes. The below is an excerpt from St. Claude Main Street’s manager Michael T. Martin’s email correspondence with City Planning regarding  “a sizeable grant to build mini-parks, or, parkettes” and informs the participants that the meeting will be held “at Civic Center, our partners studio space”

It has also been pointed out that at the time of the retraction, The Lens’ webpage design was done by Chang’s company Civic Center.

In May 2013, St. Claude Main Street announced they will not be building any parkettes on St. Claude Avenue after all, and instead would build one pocket park on land owned by one of its board members, a resident of Virginia. The property boasts two realty company signs. The purported impact of the “temporary” is a key component of Tactical Urbanism, perhaps especially when a parcel slated for a community park is concurrently for sale (see update below).

So there you have it.

June 8 2012:

“I am the Manager at St. Claude Main Street and we have received a sizable grant to build mini-parks, or parkettes, along St. Claude Avenue….”

“…The building of these parks is reliant on re-allocating space (parking spaces, private property, and/or sidewalk space) into public park space in front of key businesses on the corridor. San Francisco and New York City both have programs that execute these types of developments and with this grant, New Orleans (and St. Claude Avenue specifically) has the opportunity to be a national leader in infill park design.”

June 25 2012:

“Just wanted to remind you about our meeting this Friday, June 29th at 1:30 PM. I’ve booked space for us at Civic Center, our partners studio space in the Bywater.”

Full report of the public records request:

Update: The property where the park will be built is no longer for sale. While there is a new realty sign on the property, it is for a third property down the block connected to the SCMS board member and not the vacant lot scheduled for the pocket park construction in the coming months.