August: Urban Revitalization
This August, ABNY is spotlighting Young Professionals improving New York through their work in urban revitalization. Congratulations to our August Spotlights, Yuri Chang, Karp Strategies, and Evan Sweet, Meatpacking District Management Association (Meatpacking BID)!
I became an urban planner by way of curiosity and exploration. I wasn’t aware of urban planning as a field until after I finished my undergraduate studies, but subconsciously I was inching my way to this profession all along. Urban planning is an exciting intersection of high-level public policies and on-the-ground realities of how neighborhoods function – and I came to realize that this is the “sweet spot” for the work that I truly enjoy. My previous background in workforce development, communications, and economic development all contribute to my work as an urban planner today.
I am proud of not being afraid to move at my own timeline. There are expectations that we put on ourselves to reach certain milestones by certain ages. While professional goals are certainly important, I appreciate that I gave myself permission to try out different fields, make time for travel, and figure out what makes me tick.
I’m also proud of serving as a youth mentor and ambassador for AAPI women. I try to seek these opportunities and make myself available to anyone who has questions about my career path because it’s so important to pay it forward.
Embracing change and being open. Urban planning consulting really suits my generalist (and Gemini) tendencies, and I enjoy how dynamic the work can be. During my time at Karp Strategies, I’ve worked on projects related to climate change resiliency, COVID-19 small businesses support, and urban design to promote mental health, among other topic areas.
Also, not being afraid to ask for help. There are lots of smart, talented, and kind people who are happy to answer career-related questions and serve as mentors – you just have to reach out!
My family put roots in New York when they came to the United States in the 1970’s. I love to revisit the different places where my parents and grandparents lived and operated their small businesses. From Greenpoint, Williamsburg, and Bushwick in Brooklyn to Steinway, East Elmhurst, and Jackson Heights in Queens – I feel a deep sense of pride and history when I visit these neighborhoods.
Evan R. Sweet, AICP
I left New York City to attend college in Lexington, Kentucky. Traveling so far away from home to a totally new community pushed me to be independent and resilient. I learned that I did not know everything, and that everyone I met had something to teach me. In Kentucky I jumped at every opportunity presented to me, and had the opportunity to grow in ways I never would have if I had stated in New York. Even now, back in New York City, I still listen to those lessons and approach life through those experiences.
Recently, I am most proud of my work developing the Meatpacking District’s Pedestrian Oriented District (POD) plan. This program focuses on prioritizing people in urban space and places them at the center of the neighborhood’s economic revitalization. Following the mantra that good public space is good for business, we have been able to transform the Meatpacking District and provide New Yorkers and visitors with world-class experiences including the first annual L.E.A.F Festival of Flowers.
I think anyone working in economic development needs to always remember the community they are a part of and to hold that community at the center of their work.
At a young age I memorized the New York City subway map and could tell you how to get anywhere in the City. I realized I was a New Yorker when two lost tourists decided to trust the 6-year-old directing them to MoMA.