Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA)


Landscape Architecture

Document Type



This thesis explores what can happen when planners and designers allow local narratives to inspire and inform all stages of community planning and design processes. Specifically, this paper suggests how local narratives can contribute to the ongoing revitalization efforts underway in Old South Baton Rouge, a historically significant, low-income, African-American community in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. A personal narrative introduces the subject matter at hand. Thereafter, each chapter is preceded with a narrative interlude to add texture to the ideas presented herein. Chapter two underscores the theoretical and practical relationship between place, memory and development, particularly as this relationship applies to planning methods and development practices for low- income neighborhood revitalization projects. Old South Baton Rouge is introduced in chapter three as an example of a community that has the potential to undergo a revitalization that is founded on local narratives. In chapters four and five the public process components of two in-progress revitalization projects in Old South Baton Rouge are assessed in terms of how well they utilize local narratives and to comprehend the current roles and values of local narratives, public participation and historical context. Chapter six seeks to highlight the potential roles and potential values of these factors in revitalization projects by giving examples of designs and plans founded on local narratives and by proposing plans for Old South Baton Rouge based on existing local narratives. The conclusion asks planners to aim to define success in revitalization efforts within a given area not only by increased private and public investment and increased market values, but equally by the intangible: How many young children in distressed situations are afforded opportunities that help them achieve stability and success against the odds of their own personal circumstances? For the sake of longevity, and for the purpose of developing complex solutions for complex planning matters, this study suggests that revitalization efforts must balance market-driven and people-driven approaches. Utilizing local narratives in public participation is proposed as a means to that end, and therefore, to viable, rich, lasting solutions for complex planning issues faced in urban revitalization projects.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Suzanne L. Turner