Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Local activist awarded prestigious 2009 Jane Jacobs Medal

The Rockfeller Foundation announced today that the recipients of the 2009 Jane Jacobs Medal are Richard Kahan and Damaris Reyes. The medal, which is administered by the Municipal Art Society of New York (MAS), was created in 2007 to honor the author and activist who died in April 2006. It is awarded annually to two New Yorkers whose work creates new ways of seeing and understanding the city.

Founder and CEO of the Urban Assembly, Richard Kahan is a former President of the New York State Urban Development Corporation and former Chairman of the Battery Park City Authority. Since 1999, the Urban Assembly has created, and now manages, 22 public secondary schools located, by design, in many of the lowest income neighborhoods in New York. Mr. Kahan will receive the 2009 Jane Jacobs Medal for Lifetime Leadership.

Damaris Reyes, Executive Director of Good Old Lower East Side (GOLES), will receive the 2009 Jane Jacobs Medal for New Ideas and Activism. She began her work with GOLES as a grassroots community organizer before assuming her current role in 2005. Through an approach Reyes describes as holistic, GOLES has been pivotal in strengthening the community and preserving the character of the Lower East Side. Both medals come with an award of $100,000.

To read more about the work of the 2009 recipients, click here.

Previous years' recipients include Peggy Shepard, executive director and co-founder of West Harlem Environmental Action, Inc. (WE ACT), and Alexie Torres-Fleming, founder of Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice (YMPJ) in 2008; and Barry Benepe of New York City?s Greenmarket program and Omar Freilla of Greenworker Cooperatives in the Bronx in 2007.

The Rockefeller Foundation made a grant to Jane Jacobs in the 1950s for the research and writing of the book The Life and Death of Great American Cities. More than fifty years later, this work remains one of the most influential books ever written on urban design.

The 2009 Jane Jacobs Medal Jury was chaired by Dr. Judith Rodin, President of the Rockefeller Foundation, and comprised Rockefeller Foundation trustee David Rockefeller, Jr., Dean of New York University's Tisch School for the Arts Mary Schmidt Campbell, and The New Yorker architecture critic Paul Goldberger.

For more information about the award and past year's recipients, visit www.mas.org/jane-jacobs-medal.


Congratulations to Damaris for her important work in the community. Visit GOLES: http://www.goles.org

*Recent image of Damaris Reyes and Carlos Garcia courtesy of The Villager

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