Khaliff Davis (MCRP '15) Explores Links Between Tactical Urbanism and Community Development in his Option Paper

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Summary Sentence:

Khaliff Davis remembers his time at Georgia Tech, and the research he completed as a planning graduate student.

Full Summary:

Khaliff Davis remembers his time at Georgia Tech, and the research he completed as a planning graduate student.

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Khaliff Davis, an alumnus of the Georgia Tech School of City and Regional Planning, explored the links between tactical urbanism and community development in his option paper, written while he was a second year in our MCRP program. We asked him a few questions about his paper, his life after graduate school, and his time at Tech!


What was your option  paper about?

My option paper explores how the public sector can leverage tactical urbanism—i.e. a series of small, low-cost placemaking improvements—as a viable tool within the broader toolbox of community development. Generally, government resources have favored intensive “brick and mortar” development. My paper provides a justification for government to support a greater variety of small scale, inclusive development approaches to better meet the values of the public.


Why did you pick that topic?

I was fascinated by the global do-it-yourself movement spurred by the devastating effects of the recent economic downturn. I was also inspired by the community driven interventions I observed during my time studying in Brazil—an opportunity leveraged through a partnership with Georgia Tech and the University of Florida. I began questioning the extent of the public sector’s role in supporting the smart, earnest placemaking I observed everywhere around me. My option paper topic was essentially an argument to increase the level of government support for these community led initiatives, which I felt was low in some jurisdictions and non-existent in others.


Talk a little bit about your relationship with your advisor.

One can imagine the lack of precedent for the research I proposed. It proved difficult to define the methods and locate the relevant literature to address my topic successfully. Dan Immergluck helped to form my initial scope of work into a coherent plan of action and suggested the relevant literature I needed to produce quality work. To me, conducting research is a painstakingly beautiful process, Dan allowed enough flexibility to make a mistake, learn from it, and then, do better.


What are you up to these days? Is your research related to what you are doing now?

I’m currently based in Washington D.C. working in the social impact investment sector. I get to travel across the country to deploy creative, mission-driven capital to community projects that encourage equitable, inclusive development. While not directly related to my research, I often engage with community stakeholders committed to creating a brighter future on their terms. On a more direct note, I have begun initial conversations with the DC Office of Planning and District Department of Transportation to encourage a study and update of the current city required public space permits for street performance art.


What are a few of the things you enjoyed most about the program here?

At Tech, I had the freedom to pursue my interests full stop. The school resources (and city!) provided me with the opportunity to grow as a scholar and professional. I also recently visited the “Georgia Tech of the North” on business, and I must say, the people at Tech are much better!


Read Khaliff's paper here!

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School of City & Regional Planning

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  • Created By: Jessie Brandon
  • Workflow Status: Published
  • Created On: Dec 9, 2016 - 12:21pm
  • Last Updated: Dec 9, 2016 - 2:35pm