Joanna Farley was introduced to urban planning through Hurricane Katrina, which made every New Orleanian question how our city came to be. She followed that interest to an undergraduate degree in Urban Studies from Columbia University, and then left cities behind and moved to a rural village in Mozambique as a Peace Corps Volunteer. She worked in international relief, supporting cash distribution programs for displaced populations, for which an understanding of urban spaces was increasingly important. She received her master’s in urban planning from NYU Wagner, where she completed a project on vacant property management in Jackson, Mississippi and an independent study on the challenges facing coastal Louisiana.
Joanna has been doing planning work in New Orleans since 2018, working with New Orleans’ Regional Transit Authority and the City Planning Commission. She’s interested in climate change adaptation and environmental planning, all things transit and housing, and the community engagement effort for each of those facets. Joanna loves everything about New Orleans but loves our music most. She is trying her darndest to learn to play some New Orleans-style piano.
What’s your favorite type of community engagement activity?
Collage making! I think it’s a wonderful way to introduce different elements of urban design and experiment with seeing the future of a space differently. I like making collages myself, and I think the outcomes are often beautiful in addition to being useful.
If you could work on a project anywhere in the world where would it be?
My favorite projects will always be those in my hometown of New Orleans. That said, I would love to work on a project in Mexico, Brazil or Mozambique.
If you had a superpower to make a bigger impact on communities/ cities/ or environments what superpower would you have?
My superpower would be an “undo” button for harmful decisions made in the past. I feel like a lot of the work in planning is mitigating or seeking to repair the negative impacts of past decisions. It would be delightful to get to just boop! undo! those, preventing the harm from ever happening in the first place.