As a planner and scholar, I focus on critically analyzing planning theory, processes, and practice to inform a reparative praxis. Before attending graduate school, I led intensive, research-based planning projects throughout Mississippi as the Lead Planner for Duvall Decker Architects, P. A. In this work, I developed innovative solutions to complex problems in ways that seek to improve communities’ environmental, economic, cultural, and social well-being.
In the early years of practice, I observed a psycho-socio-cultural phenomenon that altered the course of my career: In public meetings, people’s behavior many times bore the hallmarks of trauma. Now at the University of Southern California, studying urban planning and development, my research conceptualizes communal trauma as a place-based phenomenon impacting communities’ interactions with planners, planning, and policymakers. Moreover, these histories profoundly impact how communities experience and access healthy growth and communal wellness.
Realizing that the planning field needs a space to explore trauma, place, and spatial processes in ways that allow theory to inform practice and practice to inform theory, I started SaHA Planning Studio. This studio space aspires to impact lived experiences and produce healthy places through the collective exploration of reparative praxis, which integrates critical research and theories with liberating practices. I draw from my lived experiences as well as the lived experiences of my community as critical ways of knowing. In doing so, I hope to lead the planning field in defining a more ethical approach to planning that centers community care and thrives on community agency.