Current Leader

Libby Bland

Libby Bland
Location: Houston, Texas Cohort Start Year: 2020 Project Topic: Built Environment/Housing/Planning Populations Served: Adults (21-64 years), African-American/Black, Children and Families, Low-Income Communities, Older Adults (65+), Rural Communities, Urban Communities
Senior Planner and Urban Designer
Asakura Robinson

Libby’s passionate about understanding and building replicable affordable housing and supportive system models as part of a comprehensive strategy to stabilize families. She will be partnering with Project Row Houses in the Third Ward of Houston for this research. She will connect similar arts-based nonprofits that are also building and supporting housing in rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods.

STRATEGIC INITIATIVE: Community Gardens in Houston’s Third Ward
I am working with Project Row Houses to develop a pilot program for community gardens in the third ward neighborhood of Houston, Texas. This is a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood that has a 20-acre deficiency of green space for long-term residents. Developing parklets will provide safe gathering spaces for residents and their children, lower temperatures through increased tree coverage, and increased access to resources in more areas of the neighborhood. Our project will work directly with the House of Tiny Treasures, local artists, and other community organizations to ensure that the spaces and resources remain accessible to legacy Third Ward residents. We will also work with community partners like Urban Harvest to ensure the long-term maintenance of the demonstration garden. Our ultimate goal of this initial park is to develop a replicable method for developing pocket parks across the neighborhood.

Libby Viera-Bland, AICP, came to planning and design through a passion for understanding how the narratives of place differ based on whose voice is prioritized. In all of her work, she approaches issues at three different scales—the interpersonal level of speaking directly with people who are being immediately affected, the intracommunal level of understanding how this issue is affecting a community as a whole, and the institutional level to understand the system that is reinforcing the policies and deficiencies that have created the issue. Currently, she is a senior planner and urban designer at Asakura Robinson. She completed concurrent master’s degrees in architecture and city and regional planning with a focus on community and economic development at the University of Pennsylvania.