The Yolanda Garcia Community Planner Award (YGCP) acknowledges the hard-working leaders of grassroots, community-based planning. The award was created to commemorate Yolanda Garcia, a community activist in the South Bronx (seen at work in the photo at left). Under Garcia’s leadership, the residents of Melrose challenged the city, created an alternative to an urban renewal plan, and transformed a neighborhood. The organization created by Garcia, We Stay/Nos Quedamos, is bringing that community’s vision to life through planning, design, construction, and programming.

In 2007, the Municipal Art Society (MAS) presented the second annual YGCP award to Elizabeth Yeampierre for her work with the United Puerto Rican Organization of Sunset Park (UPROSE), which has engaged local residents, particularly youth, in multiple community planning and environmental justice initiatives along the Sunset Park waterfront in Brooklyn.  Last year’s winner was Jeanne DuPont, Executive Director of the Rockaway Waterfront Alliance. The award recognized her work engaging a diverse community and local youth in open space and environmental issues on the barrier island of Far Rockaway, Queens.

MAS will accept nominations online for the 2009 YGCP award now through May 29.  For a printed copy of the nomination form, please contact us.

Award criteria and more information after the jump.

Award Criteria

The MAS Planning Center is once again seeking to present the YGCP award to a community planner who embodies the spirit of the work of Garcia and Nos Quedamos. The award will be presented to an individual who has demonstrated his or her ability to overcome the many obstacles to grassroots, community-based planning and has succeeded in bringing neighborhood need and vision into New York City’s planning process. The award recipient must:

·          Work on a placed-based community plan aimed at addressing local needs, limiting displacement, and improving the overall quality of life for neighborhood residents;

·          Be a self-taught planner (with no formal academic or professional training as a planner);

·          Work in a low- to moderate-income community within NYC’s five boroughs;

·          Use an inclusive, community-driven approach that values participation and the use of local knowledge;

·          Have a proactive approach to planning focusing not only on advocacy, but the actual creation and implementation of a community-based plan.

Nominations are to be submitted as essays, not to exceed 500 words, by a person familiar with the nominee’s work. Please visit this site to fill out the online nomination form.

Nominations will be reviewed by the YGCP award selection committee. Past members have included Nos Quedamos Executive Director Yolanda Gonzalez, City Planning Commissioner Karen Philips, Hunter College Professor Tom Angotti, Pratt Center for Community Development Director Emeritus Ron Shiffman, Good Old Lower East Side Executive Director Damaris Reyes, and others.

The recipient will be honored at the Municipal Art Society’s annual meeting in summer 2009.