Caretakers + Placemakers of New Orleans

Honor Award

Student Collaboration

New Orleans, Louisiana, United States
Omid Elhami; Georgia DeWitt, Student ASLA; Morgana Tetherow-Keller, Associate ASLA; Rachael Gautier, Associate ASLA;
Faculty Advisors: Monique Bassey, ASLA;
Louisiana State University

Exciting, innovative, impressive, artful, and engaging. Intentional project approach and awareness piece. Would love to know more about how it was received by members of the community. It is well presented and highlights less well-known valuable community assets.

- 2023 Awards Jury

Project Statement

The Caretakers + Placemakers of New Orleans is a zine project focused on the role that hope plays in the landscape architecture discipline. Impactful and inspirational themes came to light through from a series of interviews with community members that place hope and care at the forefront of their work: community, equity, access, resiliency - elements not readily available to all residents of the city. A family of zines – self–published, informational booklets – were made, and distributed across the city, based on these conversations to spark hope in the residents of New Orleans about the grassroots systems in place, as well as to inform them on the landscape architecture discipline, and its role in connecting community to the environment.

Project Narrative

The Caretakers + Placemakers of New Orleans is a zine project focused on the role that hope plays in the landscape architecture discipline. Hope is manifested through the action of care: caring for one another, for the landscape and for the city. New Orleans has a way of caring for its community like no other city, through a whole underground system of grassroots organizations working to provide a more resilient and equitable landscape. This project seeks to inform on the many ways in which landscape architectects have a hand in the conversations and actions of equity, access, and care through a series of interviews with organizations that prioritize hope and care in their work.

We reached out to multiple organizations to reflect the many different facets of the city that the landscape architecture discipline touches. These NGOs are involved in activities that directly relate to landscape architecture including stormwater management, green infrastructure training for BIPOC owned businesses, street art, aiding community development through redesigning physical spaces, providing scientific data related to the effects of climate change, designing physical spaces through design justice and community organizing, and planned community plantings of cypress trees in wetlands.

The interviews were then translated into a family of seven zines, each one featuring a different community member and their organization. Each visual element in the zines is derived from direct quotations from interviewees and reflects an important part of their organization. The format was chosen as zines are self-published and self-distributed, encouraging accessibility of information through tangible, relatable and shareable documents. The format provided six pages to introduce the featured organization, describe their process and impact, and inform on ways in which their work relates to landscape architecture.

“…which goes back to Landscape Architecture, the understanding that landscape design can make a significant difference for safety and protection, but also in relation to enjoyment.” – Arthur Johnson, CEO of Sustain the Nine

150 of the free zines were distributed in New Orleans neighborhoods where government care is lacking. With a goal sparking hope and trust in New Orleans residents, and boosting community morale, the zines were placed in coffee shops, bookstores, newspaper stands and bus stops. Raising awareness on grassroots efforts that are already in place may connect residents to helpful services, or provide ways to get involved and care for the city. The zines also have a QR code connected to them which allows for a broader digital distribution method.

Caretakers + Placemakers of New Orleans enhanced the conversations around caring for the city by weaving the layered issues into a focused collection of actions. These zines are a tool for New Orleans residents looking to get involved working for or volunteering at different impactful organizations. The zines could also be used as a marketing tool for the organizations to inform the public about what kind of work is being done. They can be used as a precedent or model for other students who want to explore caretaking in their own city. Lastly, the zines are a way of distributing, sharing, and highlighting the role of landscape architecture to the public.