Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Smart Growth Summit set for August

Some important questions to consider: Are Louisiana communities building in a way that will work for the future? Can better planning help us solve our transportation problems? Is there a connection between planning and health?

If you're interested in finding some answers to these questions, you'll want to attend “Livable Louisiana: A Summit on Smart Growth,” August 14-15 in the Manship Theatre at the Shaw Center for the Arts in Baton Rouge. The Summit will feature discussions and presentations by national and local "Smart Growth" experts on topics such as green building construction, the relationship between public health and planning, sustainable landscape design, innovative transportation solutions, and how to design safer, more pedestrian-friendly communities. There will also be a progress report on Louisiana Speaks.

To find out more,visit the Summit homepage.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Advocate Editorial Supports Commuter Rail Concept

The funding and building of critical transportation infrastructure is one of the Top 10 Louisiana Speaks Priorities for 2008. In particular, the plan supports "Regional transit projects with recovery and evacuation value, such as commuter rail from New Orleans to Baton Rouge."

Apparently, othere agree with the plan's priorities. This recent editorial from The Advocate offers a persuasive argument for continuing to develop a plan for commuter rail between New Orleans and Baton Rouge.

What do you think? How can this vision be realized? Feel free to leave a comment here or, if you agree with the editorial, send a Letter to the Editor (and don't forget to mention your support for the Louisiana Speaks Regional Plan).

Another Major Award for the Louisiana Speaks Plan

The groundbreaking Louisiana Speaks Regional Plan continues to earn national acclaim. The plan was recently named winner of a prestigious Charter Award by the Congress for the New Urbanism, earning honors in the "The Region: Metropolis, City and Town Scale" category.

The annual Charter Awards honor the best of New Urbanism. The Congress of New Urbanism will present the Charter Awards on April 5, in conjunction with the 16th Congress for the New Urbanism in Austin, Texas. The 14 winning professional submissions and one student/faculty submission were chosen by a seven-member jury of leading urbanists, including Andrés Duany, who served as chair. The awarded projects are found in the U.S. and four other countries: the Bahamas, India, Saudi Arabia, and Scotland. Duany and other jurors said winning projects demonstrated excellence, often in the face of difficult contexts or other challenges requiring ingenuity to overcome. Find out more here.

Office of State Planning Task Force Releases Report

The task force charged with studying and making recommendations for the creation of a comprehensive Office of State Planning released its report to the Louisiana Legislature on February 19.

The Louisiana Legislature established the task force during the 2007 Regular Session. The creation of a group to make recommendations on this issue was a 2007 legislative priority of the Louisiana Recovery Authority (LRA). The establishment of a coordinated State Office of Planning is a 2008 priority of Louisiana Speaks.

Among the report's recommendations are:

  • The state planning office should be located within the executive branch and include oversight by a planning commission.
  • The office should serve as a central repository for data and plans; provide technical support, including monitoring of local plan implementation and providing education and information about best practices; administer incentive and program funding to assist local governments and coordinate state planning efforts.
  • The LRA should serve as an interim location for the housing and development of the Office of State Planning, with the LRA conducting a statewide capacity assessment and adjusting its staffing and budget to perform additional planning implementation activities
To download a copy of the report, click here. Do you support the Task Force recommendations? Let us know what you think. Post a comment or e-mail us.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Louisiana Speaks Documentary Nominated for an Emmy

'Our Voice, Our Plan, Our Future' up for Service Program Award at 2007 Suncoast Regional Emmy Awards

The hour-long documentary "Louisiana Speaks: Our Voice, Our Plan, Our Future," produced by Louisiana Speaks and Louisiana Public Broadcasting (LPB) has been nominated for an Emmy award by the Suncoast Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. The Suncoast Chapter will announce its awards December 1 at a ceremony in Kissimmee, Florida.
Hosted by Louisiana-born actress, Lynn Whitfield, the program was broadcast during the months of January and February on public television stations across Louisiana, in Atlanta, Dallas and Houston and also online. The program, which was made possible in part by a generous grant from the Fannie Mae Foundation, informed viewers about a range of issues, including community growth, transportation, coastal protection and economic development and was one arm of the major public outreach campaign to engage citizens across South Louisiana on their views about the region's future. The unprecedented response to this outreach campaign included more than 27,000 Louisianans voicing their opinions, which formed the basis of the Louisiana Speaks Regional Plan.

* To view the documentary, click here.

Louisiana Speaks' Emmy nomination is the latest in a series of honors. In September, the Louisiana Chapter of the American Planning Association awarded the Louisiana Speaks Regional Plan with its "Current Topic Award," the Louisiana Speaks Planning Toolkit with its "Outstanding Planning Award for a project, program or tool" and the Louisiana Speaks Pattern Book with its "Public Education Award." In May, the Congress for New Urbanism also awarded the Louisiana Speaks Pattern Book its 2007 Charter Award, an annual prize honoring projects around the world that promote walkable, neighborhood development as an alternative to urban sprawl. And in March, editors of the online planning network,, named as one of the top ten best planning, design and development websites in the country. The website is managed by the Center for Planning Excellence (CPEX) and powered by Knowledgeplex due to a generous grant from the Fannie Mae Foundation.

"Louisiana Speaks: Our Voice, Our Plan, Our Future," is one of three nominees in the Service Program category. The Suncoast Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences is a nonprofit Florida corporation dedicated to excellence in television. It offers annual Emmy Awards called The Suncoast Regional Emmy Awards to television markets in the entire State of Florida, Alexandria, Baton Rouge, Lafayette, Lake Charles and New Orleans, Louisiana, Mobile, Alabama, Thomasville, Georgia and Puerto Rico. For more information, visit

Friday, October 12, 2007

LRA Board Endorses Louisiana Speaks Goals for 2008

NEW ORLEANS (October 11, 2007) - The Louisiana Recovery Authority's (LRA) Board of Directors today endorsed ten Louisiana Speaks priorities for the next year at its October meeting in New Orleans, including establishing a state office of planning and funding and building transportation infrastructure critical to Louisiana's recovery.
The Louisiana Speaks Regional Plan for South Louisiana, which the LRA board adopted at its May 2007 meeting, details more than 100 action items to support the plan's three broad goals of recovering sustainably, growing smarter and thinking regionally.
"We have much work before us, but this endorsement sets a clear course for our long-term planning efforts in the coming year," said Donna Fraiche, chair of the LRA's Long Term Community Planning Task Force. "Setting priorities for Louisiana Speaks is where the rubber meets the road in terms of implementation and our plans become reality. Our recovery over the next generation depends on this process moving immediately forward. We must avoid missteps by getting this right while we have the opportunity."
Louisiana Speaks is a long-term planning initiative of the LRA which was created in the wake of the destruction caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Spanning parishes from the Texas to Mississippi border (including the Houma/Thibodaux, New Orleans, North Shore, Baton Rouge, Lafayette, Lake Charles, St. Bernard and Plaquemines areas), the Louisiana Speaks Regional Plan provides a broad strategic framework and priorities for land use, transportation, community growth and economic development in South Louisiana.
The Louisiana Speaks team has already taken action on key elements of the regional vision by working to coordinate the implementation of the regional plan with the state's coastal protection and restoration plans and supporting Local Recovery Plans.
In addition, many of the Louisiana Speaks priorities are already in place. The Louisiana Speaks leadership established a separate, nonprofit group to support this initiative. The Louisiana Legislature established the study group to recommend how Louisiana will create a statewide planning office consistent with the Louisiana Speaks Regional Vision.
"After months of planning, it is exciting to see recommendations of the plan taking shape," said Sean Reilly, chair of the LRA's State and Local Legislative Task Force. "Establishing a separate leadership organization and a state office of planning will ensure that the voices of thousands of citizens that formed Louisiana Speaks will continue to influence the state's future."
Critical transportation projects detailed in the Louisiana Speaks Regional Plan include regional transit projects that offer a high recovery and evacuation value while also providing economic development potential, such as a commuter rail that travels between New Orleans and Baton Rouge and the expansion of several highways.
The Plan also calls for the creation of model development code that would serve as a body of zoning and development principles. The Center for Planning Excellence (CPEX) and Louisiana Economic Development (LED) are developing this free resource which will be made available in late 2008.
In addition, the LRA works with the Louisiana Land Trust, formerly called the Road Home Corporation, to establish policies consistent with the Louisiana Speaks' priorities for community rebuilding and risk management to ensure the safer, stronger, smarter development of properties the Louisiana Land Trust acquires.
The Plan incorporates the 2008 priorities for the establishment of a state coastal land trust. The Louisiana Legislature directed the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to study this issue. Private resources exist for this coastal land trust and an additional effort to establish a separate Conservation and Mitigation Trust Fund is still needed.
The 2008 priorities also call for locating schools and medical facilities to improve neighborhoods and spur development, which the state is working to address through $41.5 million in funds appropriated for neighborhood primary health care clinics in the affected areas, coupled with $100 million in federal funds targeted for community clinics for the hardest-hit parishes. In addition, the Recovery School District (RSD) is working on its master plan of where to locate schools.
More than 27,000 Louisianans expressed their visions for recovery and rebuilding through the Louisiana Speaks process, constituting the foundation and validation for the plan, making Louisiana Speaks the most robust survey of its kind in American history.
The ten priorities the LRA board endorsed Thursday include:1. Establish an Office of State Planning and an Independent Louisiana Speaks Leadership Group.2. Fund and build recovery-critical transportation infrastructure.3. Create a Louisiana Location Index.4. Create model development and zoning codes.5. Use the Louisiana Speaks Regional Plan to guide the Louisiana Land Trust, formerly known as the Road Home Corporation.6. Focus public investment into developed areas and centers and identify and clear obstacles to infill development.7. Establish a state trust fund to revitalize communities.8. Establish a state trust fund to acquire high-risk or environmentally sensitive land.9. Locate and design schools and medical facilities to create better neighborhoods and spur community development.10. Build greener.
Visit for more information about the Louisiana Speaks 2008 priorities.

Monday, October 1, 2007

The Latest LA Speaks News: New Websites, Lafayette Embraces the Regional Plan, and Champions Promote Louisiana nationwide

Louisiana Speaks increases online presence.

As we implement the Louisiana Speaks Regional Plan and 2008 Priorities, we are making an effort to increase our online presence. We have created additional online resources to familiarize people with the Regional Plan and have begun to host online discussion forums that people may utilize to participate in the effort to create a safer, stronger and smarter Louisiana.
Since we are at the point "where the rubber hits the road," it has become essential that Louisiana Speaks has a robust base of support. The expansion of our 'online' community of supporters is particularly important in this age of modern communication. Recently, we created a group on Facebook (you must join Facebook to see the group profile), and a profile on MySpace. Facebook and Myspace are interactive, social networking websites, particularly popular with college-age individuals and young professionals. We have also developed a blog at Additionally, now Louisiana Speaks even has an entry on Wikipedia, so people can find out about the process and plan on the world's biggest free-content online encyclopedia! Check it out:

Lafayette City-Parish Planning Commission Adopts LA Speaks Regional Plan.

On Monday, September 24, the Lafayette City-Parish Planning Commission formally adopted the Louisiana Speaks Regional Plan. According to Mike Hollier, Lafayette's Planning Manager, "As an adopted component of the Lafayette Parish Comprehensive Plan: Lafayette IN a Century (LINC), the South Louisiana Regional Plan will not be altered. Henceforth, any changes to LINC would have to conform to the Louisiana Speaks Regional Plan."

LA Speaks Champion and TIME magazine join forces to promote Presidential Debate in New Orleans.

The proposal for a Presidential debate in New Orleans being promoted by Louisiana Speaks Champion Anne Milling, founder of the non-partisan group Women of the Storm, has been strongly endorsed by TIME magazine, including a statement from editor Rick Stengel. Stengel is asking TIME's readers to join him in supporting a presidential debate in New Orleans by sending in comments to TIME plans to forward the letters to the Commission on Presidential Debates.
Click here to read details, endorsement letters and the debate proposal itself.
Click here to read editorial endorsements from New York Times, Boston Globe, Washington Post, and USA Today.
Click here to read an endorsement letter signed by all six U.S. Senators who are presidential candidates.Please inform your friends and family about this effort. The more people who participate, the better! Site selection will be announced at the end of October.

Chet Morrison, Louisiana Speaks Champion and LRA board member, responds to legislative approval of WRDA Bill and encourages President Bush to sign.

Louisiana Recovery Authority (LRA) Board member and Louisiana Speaks Champion Chet Morrison has issued a statement in response to the U.S. Senate's vote to approve the Water Resources Development Act of 2007 (WRDA) earlier this week. Click here to read it. The U.S. House of Representatives previously passed similar legislation. WRDA now awaits President George W. Bush's signature to become law.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Lousiana Speaks plan hits grand slam at Louisana APA Awards

The Louisiana Chapter of the American Planning Association (APA) honored Louisiana Speaks with four distinguished awards that were announced at its annual conference in New Orleans today.
Donna Fraiche, the chair of the Louisiana Recovery Authority's (LRA) Long Term Community Planning Task Force, received the APA's Distinguished Leadership Award for a Citizen Planner for her work with the LRA's planning task force and Louisiana Speaks. The APA also honored the Louisiana Speaks Regional Plan with its Current Topic Award. The Louisiana Speaks Pattern Book received the APA's Public Education Award, and the Louisiana Speaks Planning Toolkit received the APA's Outstanding Planning Award for a project, program or tool.
"Louisiana Speaks and local planning efforts empowered Louisianians to speak up about the direction of their communities and the region, making us all citizen planners," Fraiche said. "I am humbled to be honored as part of this effort and I know I speak for the thousands of 'citizen planners' across the state when I say that this hard work should not sit on the shelf gathering dust as an effort in centralized planning. With the continued support of our partners at the APA and the Center for Planning Excellence, I am confident we will see the recommendations of Louisiana Speaks implemented in the years to come."