Institute for Environmental Negotiation

Empowering communities to create shared solutions

IEN Announces Launch of "Transforming Community Spaces"

 Charlottesville, VA — The University of Virginia’s (UVA) Institute for Environmental Negotiation (IEN) is proud to announce the launch of Transforming Community Spaces: Bending the Arc of Memory Toward Healing and Justice. This IEN-led initiative will launch in conjunction with UVA’s Center for Cultural Landscapes symposium Race and Public Space: Commemorative Practices in the American South on March 24-25, 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Transforming Community Spaces (TCS) will support the many communities and institutions across the nation facing challenges in telling more complete histories by providing best practices for consensus building, public history, public design, and community engagement. TCS begins on March 24 with the convening of a national Advisory Committee of designers, historians and mediators. The group will offer advice to IEN as it develops guidance for communities and institutions seeking to tell more complete histories and change their narratives around issues of race and other types of identity. The IEN initiative is sponsored by UVA’s School of Architecture and Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy, and project partners include The Cultural Landscape Foundation, the National Preservation Institute, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

The CCL-led symposium begins later that same evening and continues into March 25. With dynamic and provocative speakers who bring deep knowledge on these topics, the symposium aims to generate vibrant discussion about the "21st century crisis” of how problematic community narratives are maintained, changed or erased through histories, stories, and memories in public spaces and representations. Ideas and discussion at the symposium will feed into development of the guidance, which will be tested with pilot projects in different parts of the country before it is finalized and widely disseminated.  

The two-day symposium is sponsored by the UVA School of Architecture Sara Shallenberger Brown Cultural Landscapes & Sites Initiative, and supported by the BNSF Railway. All events are free and open to the public, but registration is requested. You can find more information and the symposium schedule here

The goals of these two initiatives are synergistic in seeking to initiate and support intentional, candid and inclusive dialogue about how communities may approach historical commemoration issues that stir passions and conflict. The initiatives address a resurgence in debates about the impacts of public parks, monuments, and other sites identified with slavery, colonialism and more recent contested histories.

The CCL and IEN are working closely in both funding and execution of these initiatives: IEN is supporting CCL’s symposium in design and facilitation, and CCL is supporting IEN’s initiative in design and serving on the Advisory Committee.

The Institute for Environmental Negotiation (IEN) has over 35 years’ experience bringing the tools of facilitation and mediation to bear on complex social and environmental issues. With a belief that robust community engagement yields long-term resilience, IEN helps ensure that communities are sustained ecologically, socially and economically.  Since 2007 IEN has facilitated a project known as UCARE (University & Community Action for Racial Equity), which convenes faculty, staff and students alongside community members to examine the University’s history, present day obligations and future possibilities in relation to its legacy of slavery.

The Center for Cultural Landscapes produces research and creates new models of innovative cultural landscape stewardship in the region, the nation and around the globe. Its work focuses on increasing awareness of the historical and ecological value of cultural landscapes through innovative scholarly research, site documentation and fieldwork, planning, preservation, management, and design.


TCS Project Sponsors

UVA School of Architecture

UVA Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy


Symposium Sponsors

UVA School of Architecture Sara Shallenberger Brown Cultural Landscapes & Sites Initiative

BNSF Railway


TCS Project Partners