Monday, November 3, 2008

The Chicago - Manila Connection

Before the 1909 Plan of Chicago, architect and urban planner Daniel H. Burnham worked on the 1905 Plan of Manila, in the Philippines. DePaul University in Chicago, who started the planning of the 2009 centennial celebrations under the leadership of Susan Aaron and the Chaddick Institute for Metropolotan Development, is actually active also in Manila. In collaboration with Adamson University, another academic insitution guided by Vincentian and inspired by the values of St. Vincent de Paul, Dr. Marco Tavanti has been directing a DePaul University program in Manila focussing on partecipatory urban poverty assessments. This blog includes some of the analysis and findings related to our collaborative projects between DePaul University Chicago and Adamson University in Manila.

Meet Daniel H. Burnham

Daniel Hudson Burnham (1846 – 1912) was an American architect and urban planner. He directed the works for the World's Columbian Exposition in 1892 and designed several famous buildings in Chicago, New York City and Washington D.C. He is well-known and criticized for his neoclassical architectural style inspired by classic Greek and Roman constructions. His greatest contribution is, however, in urban planning which produced with Edward H. Bennett the ambitious 1909 Plan of Chicago, the results of previous urban planning projects in Cleveland, San Francisco, Washington, DC and Manila and Baguio in the Philippines. Burnham learned many lessons in the previous works, including the importance of promoting the vision through inspired and charismatic leadership and the persistent and collaborative works of key players in the private and public sector. The 1905 Plan for Manila included the layout of the city with the railroad system with the Paco Train Station, the shore road known today as Roxas Boulevard, the Philippines General Hospital, the Philippines Normal School, the Army and Navy Club and the Manila Hotel. The later reconstruction of the parks on the central area of Manila, including the Luneta's Broadwalk were all inspired by Burnham's original plan to make the city a beautiful and functional city. Like for the Chicago plan, where Burnham envisioned the city's publicly accessible lakefront, the Manila plan identified the Manila Bay and the parks surrounding Intramuros as sensitive areas and landscapes to be protected.

Daniel H. Burnham was clearly a visionary leader. His attributed quote "Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men's blood and probably will not themselves be realized" speaks of his human spirit and charismatic leadership. In spite his youth's failure to be admitted at Yale and Harvard University or in attempting a career in public life, Daniel H. Burnham found his talents in collaborations with colleagues for the emerging Chicago School of Architects and American skyscrapers. His connections and ability to steer consensus on his architectural projects and urban plans make of him an influential leader and the preeminent architect in America at the turn of the twentieth century. In spite the many critiques he received from the later Chicago school of architecture, Frank Lloyd Wright recognized Burnham for his "masterful use of the methods and men of his time" and as an "enthusiastic promoter" with a "powerful personality." His parents' Swedenborgian Church of New Jerusalem shaped Daniel's values of service to humanity.

Read the 1993 reprint of Daniel Hudson Burnham and Edward Herbert Bennett's Plan of Chicago (Princeton Architectural Press, 1993). To know more about Burnham read his biography by Thomas S. Hines' Burnham of Chicago: Architect and Planner (University of Chicago Press, 1979).

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Meet Vincent de Paul

Saint Vincent de Paul (1581 – 1660) was a French Catholic priest dedicated to serving the poor. He was born into a peasant family in Pouy in south-western France. He began his studies theology at University of Toulouse to escape poverty and provide for his family. He was ordained priest at 19, and continued his studies in Law for about 4 years. He moved to Paris in 1609 were, under the spiritual guidance of Cardinal Pierre de Berulle, founder of the Oratory, decided to enter at the service of the family of Philippe-Emmanuel de Gondi, a general of the French galleys. In 1617, at the request of Madame de Gondi, Vincent preached his first sermon of the mission to the poor in the church of Folleville. In the same year Vincent left the Gondi estates and traveled to Ch√Ętillon-les Dombes (eastern France), where he established the Confraternities of Charity, a group of lay women to provide organized material service to the poor. At the insistence of Madame de Gondi and with the Berulle’s influence, Vincent returned at the service of the Gondi and a couple of years later he became Chaplain-General of the Galleys in Paris. In that leadership role, Vincent was able to stop many abuses to the galley slaves. In 1625, at the age of 44, Vincent founded the Congregation of the Mission for the evangelization of the rural poor but with their motherhouse in Saint-Lazare, a large estate in Paris. In 1633, in collaboration with Louise de Marillac, Vincent co-founded the Daughters of Charity. This was the first religious group of women dedicated entirely to works of charity outside the cloister. Their mission was to accompany the Ladies of Paris in their most challenging services to the sick and the marginalized poor of Paris.

Vincent was a founder and a champion in organized charity for delivering quality and sustainable services to the poor and marginalized people of in the urban landscapes of Paris. Although his attention and leadership extended to the rural poor and the missions of other countries, his most influential response was given to the needs of extreme urban poverty in Paris. His genius in providing effective organizational model for serving the poor, along with his ability to provide the necessary resources to maintain those large infrastructures, were accompanied by his patience leadership to communicate with his followers and collaborators and superiors. He probably wrote more than 30,000 letters, managed a fairly large capital along with the estate of Saint Lazare, one of the largest land properties in Paris. He was a very innovative in sustaining the financial needs of his charity works by acquiring revenues from the transit taxes on his properties and a the incomes of a transportation company he owned. He was a very charismatic, collaborative and pragmatic leadership was driven by a clear vision and mission to serve the material and spiritual needs of the urban poor. His faith and spiritual worldview guided him to recognize the poorest of the poor with the same human and divine dignity of the wealthy French nobility.

Read more at Vincent on Leadership: The Hay Project, The Vincentian Center for Church and Society at St. John's University and The Vincentian Studies Institute at DePaul University