After a close competition, we are pleased to share the winning submission to this year’s Carolina Angles photo contest. Christy Fierros captured this image overlooking Tucson, Arizona, and shares her thoughts on its meaning below.
Christy’s winning photo will also be featured in Volume 48 of the Carolina Planning Journal, Urban Analytics, coming this spring. Thank you to everyone who participated, and congratulations to Christy!
The Catalina Mountains and ancient Saguaros witness an area in constant flux. After the Gadsden Purchase of 1854 annexed this area of Mexico into the United States, “The Old Pueblo” grew. While urban renewal schemes are well-known in many east-coast cities, few are recognized in the Southwest. In the 1960’s, Downtown (pictured), was targeted by the City in their “slum clearance” project. The nearly 400-acre area destroyed was multi-ethnic, but predominantly Chicanx and had walkable neighborhoods with adobe homes, small grocers, and shops—exactly the mix of uses that millions of dollars are being spent to emulate today.
As more people move to Tucson for its affordability, arid climate, and economic opportunities, the city grapples with improving its transportation systems. Tucson recently acquired federal funds to implement equitable Transit-Oriented Development (eTOD). A Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system is proposed from this funding with a route crossing through areas of south Tucson where the median household income is $32K and rents are rapidly rising. While an improved public transit system and more dense development is badly needed, the BRT system represents a new spatial conflict for Tucson’s working-class who more often than not, bear the burden of land use decisions while others reap the benefits.
Many new, mixed-use and transit-oriented developments in the city core cater to higher income folks, university students, and tourists. The BRT project and new developments surrounding historic barrios look like gentrification to many communities in South Tucson. Mi Barrio No Se Vende (“My Neighborhood Is Not For Sale”) yard signs are scattered throughout. While the eTOD funding promises to expand affordable housing to prevent displacement, many hope history doesn’t repeat and the project funding stays true to its name.
Christy Fierros is a first-generation master’s student in the Department of City and Regional Planning specializing in Land Use and Environmental planning. She received a dual bachelor’s degree from the University of Arizona in Environmental Studies and Geography. She is passionate about making environmental injustices nonexistent and planning practices rooted in repair and respect. Hiking, bird watching, gardening, or looking at trees are just a few things that replenish her after a long day at the computer.
Looking for another opportunity to share your work? Submit to the CPJ Cover Photo contest!
The Carolina Planning Journal is now accepting submissions for the cover photo of this year’s journal, and we’d love to feature your image! Submissions should be related to this year’s journal theme, Urban Analytics: Capabilities and Critiques. Examples of previous cover images can be found at the journal’s online repository. If your photo is selected for the cover, you will receive $100 for the rights to use it in the journal as well as photo attribution.
To enter submit your high-resolution (min. 300 dpi) photo to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject “CPJ Cover Photo Submission,” along with a brief explanation of how your image relates to the journal’s theme. Contact the Journal with any further questions.
Your 2022-23 Editors:
LANCE GLOSS | Editor-in-Chief & JO KWON | Managing Editor
Lance is a second-generation urban planner with a passion for economic development strategies that center natural resource conservation and community uplift. He served as Managing Editor of the Urban Journal at Brown University, Section Editor at the College Hill Independent, and Senior Planner for the City of Grand Junction. Hailing from sunny Colorado, he earned his BA in Urban Studies at Brown and will earn his Master’s in City and Regional Planning in 2023. Jo (Joungwon) is a fourth-year Ph.D. student in City and Regional Planning with an interest in using visuals in environmental planning. She has been a part of CPJ since 2019. With a background in Statistics and English Literature, she received her M.A. in Computational Media at Duke University.