Jeewasmi Thapa exploring best practices to achieve meaningful impact in communities.
Downtown Bryan. It is a Texas Main Street gem and a success story of good planning that revitalized a declining downtown to a bustling and vibrant community hub, and it’s walkable!
What was your first interaction with a school-community partnership project?
My first high impact service-learning project was the Liberty County Strategic Plan 2015, working as a Texas Target Communities student. Liberty County was facing development pressure from growing Houston, while also dealing with repeated flooding. We worked with the community to create a guidebook to promote resilience by guiding growth and managing the development. The strategic plan received the Current Planning Award from the American Planning Association Texas Chapter in 2017 and the Silver National Planning Achievement Award for Resilience Planning from the American Planning Association in 2019. The opportunity to collaborate and co-learn with a community that welcomed us to their homes, and then see our work embraced by the community, was one of the most rewarding experiences I had as a graduate student. In many ways, this project has influenced the course of my career.
How did you first learn about EPIC-N?
I learned about the EPIC-N through our Associate Director, Jaimie Masterson, who has been actively involved in the network for a while now. Through her leadership, Texas A&M University hosted the conference in 2017, which was the first time I got a chance to engage with other programs in the network.
What are some of the top priorities you are working on this year?
My top priority is going to be our current projects, but we also want to continue improving and expanding our program. Some things on the list are
- Prioritize research, evaluation, communication and documentation of our processes this year.
- Continue exploring best practices and strategies to enhance our engagement process to achieve meaningful impact in communities.
- Assess the impacts of our work and share the stories of our community and university partners.
- Promote our program to expand the network of interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary university partners.
- Continue gathering, organizing, and documenting our processes.
In what ways are you looking to engage, or work with others, either from within the EPIC-Network, or in general?
I am interested in engaging with other university programs in the network to learn about their success stories and many different ways they are partnering with communities to foster sustainable and resilient places.
Why do you think the EPIC-Network is important?
EPIC-N brings institutions and communities together to engage in peer-to-peer learning for more impactful and effective partnerships. I believe EPIC-N has the potential to catalyze collaboration between universities across the network to pursue new projects and researcher endeavors.
What is your favorite part of the EPIC-Network
Access to network resources and the opportunity to share stories, ideas, and best practices.
What are you hoping attendees will take with them after attending your presentation?
During my “Rockport Strong” session I hope participants will learn more about how, in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, the City of Rockport partnered with the Texas Target Communities (TxTC) program to update the city’s comprehensive plan mindful of the challenges and issues of recovery and to provide a unique service-learning opportunity for students. The session will provide an overview of the TxTC community engagement process and discuss the multiple interdisciplinary partnerships formed, and the outcome of the partnerships.
Jeewasmi Thapa works with under-served communities to plan for resilience. As a program coordinator, she manages Texas Target Communities projects and serves as a liaison between community partners and the university. She designs community engagement workshops on visioning, goal setting and needs assessments. Jeewasmi is responsible for developing and presenting planning studies and reports. She also supervises interns and guides students to explore planning principles and best practices to create place-based strategies that fit the local context.
Ms. Thapa is a certified planner and serves as a planning ambassador for the American Planning Association. She received her Master of Urban Planning from the Texas A&M University, along with a certificate in Environmental Hazard Management and a certificate in Sustainable Urbanism. She also has a bachelor‘s degree in Architecture and has worked as an architect in her hometown, Kathmandu, Nepal. Her areas of interest include community engagement, environmental planning, economic development, hazard mitigation, and disaster recovery.