New urbanism, social equity, and the challenge of post-Katrina rebuilding in Mississippi
In October 2005, the Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) was enlisted to produce rebuilding plans for eleven towns along the Mississippi Gulf Coast that had been devastated by Hurricane Katrina. The plans they produced are microcosms of New Urbanist social doctrine: an accessible public realm, neighborhoods that are socially diverse, and walkable access to life’s daily needs-design principles that are essentially aimed at promoting social equity. This chapter examines the rhetoric and reality of the social equity goals of the New Urbanist plans for the Mississippi Gulf Coast region. While social equity goals are both implicitly and explicitly stated and visualized throughout the plans, the realization of social equity goals will require more than physical designs. Without the policy, institutional, programmatic, and process requirements that go along with the New Urbanists’ physical design proposals, the designs may lose their connection to social equity goals. Given the intensity of development pressure in the region, realization of social equity goals may require an unprecedented level of effort and commitment.