Kenneth Reardon: Making Waves Along the Mississippi: The South Memphis Revitalization Action Project (aka SoMeRAP)

Ken Reardon is a professor and director of the M.S. in Urban Planning and Community Development program at the University of Massachusetts–Boston where he pursues research, teaching, and outreach in support of resident-led revitalization in economically distressed communities. Reardon received his B.A. in sociology from University of Massachusetts–Amherst, master of urban planning degree from Hunter College (CUNY), and Ph.D. in city and regional planning from Cornell AAP. He has served as a tenured planning faculty member at the University of Illinois, Cornell, the University of Memphis, and the University of Massachusetts. Social Policy Press published his newest book, Building Bridges: Community and University Partnerships in East St. Louis, in August. Reardon has received the AICP President's Award, Dale Prize for Excellence in Urban Planning, and Lynton Award for Engaged Scholarship in recognition of his community planning efforts in underserved communities.

Abstract:

In the fall of 2007, Reverend Kenneth Robinson, pastor of the St. Andrew's AME Church in South Memphis, invited University of Memphis (U of M) planners to collaborate with his congregation in devising a comprehensive development plan to reverse the decline of this historic African American neighborhood. Using a highly participatory planning approach, U of M planners engaged a broad cross-section of the community in forging a plan that overcame significant municipal government opposition to successfully implement transformative child development, food security, and open space improvement projects in the community. These outcomes improved local conditions while challenging the city's historic "top-down" approach to planning.