In commemoration of Pratt Center’s 50th anniversary, we’re proud to present a landmark issue of the Pratt Planning Papers from January 1967. The Pratt Planning Papers were a series of publications on progressive urban planning put out by the Pratt Department of City Planning in the 1960s and ’70s. Pratt Center compiled this issue, which featured two articles by Senator Robert F. Kennedy on the importance of community planning and urban renewal in light of the country’s accelerating urban blight and poverty challenges. It reflects on the community development movement in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, providing an early look at the innovative community programs and initiatives that partially grew out of the recommendations in Pratt Center’s first report two years earlier.
The issue also lays out Pratt Center’s then-nascent approach to community-driven urban planning, providing a fascinating snapshot of both the participatory philosophy and groundbreaking work that set the stage for decades of innovation and leadership in the community development field. Pratt Center founders George Raymond and Ron Shiffman reflect on Pratt Center’s earliest campaigns and victories, making the case for community development campaigns that link citywide advocacy, grassroots action, and technical assistance to local groups.
While our work’s focus and the city’s communities have changed dramatically since this publication, we are proud to say that to this day we continue to build on the participatory ideals and strategies at the heart of its articles.