Friday, May 22, 2009


Burnham Meets Vincent Conference Summary

DePaul University’s School of Public Service and Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development’s April 9, 2009 conference, Daniel Burnham Meets Saint Vincent DePaul, facilitated discussion on community engagement in the context of poverty reduction and urban development. Panelists with a broad range of expertise linked the values of Saint Vincent DePaul and Daniel Burnham to address the question, “How can we turn our values into action through our commitment to poverty reduction on the occasion of the centennial celebrations for the Plan of Chicago and Burnham Plans of Manila and Baguio in the Philippines?” Panelists and participants continued an ongoing dialogue between DePaul and its Vincentian partner, Adamson University in Manila, Philippines.


Welcome and conference introduction: Elizabeth Wilp, DePaul University Burnham Centennial Project

  • Introduction to conference and welcome to faculty and students from DePaul, Loyola, University of Chicago and participants of many disciplines from urban planners and historians to academics and many others.
  • Description of architectural competition – competition of Adamson architectural students - Who was Daniel Burnham, who was Saint Vincent DePaul, and what can we learn from them today on engagement for urban renewal and poverty reduction?

Public Service and City Leadership: J. Patrick Murphy, C.M., Director School of Public Service

J. Patrick Murphy opened the conference by asking the participants, who was Saint Vincent de Paul?

  • He was a man who saw the divine through the eyes of the poor.
  • Vincent had an innate gift for developing relationships that usually turned into friendships; he had a gift of awakening friendly feelings in others.
  • Vincent was a man of action, an organizer, a manager and champion of service.
  • Vincent was responsible for a tremendous outpouring of charitable care for people in 17th century France. He organized the Ladies of Charity and established the first program for priesthood candidates. Ultimately, Vincent changed the face of the church and how the community viewed the poor.

Burnham Meets Vincent Panel Discussion

Discussion Moderator: Marco Tavanti, Ph.D., Director, DePaul University Manila Program

  • Dr. Tavanti created dialogue between the conference panelists and participants on the shared visions and values of Vincent and Burnham and what it means today.
  • Dr. Tavanti addressed the contradiction and dichotomy between an imperialistic approach and community engagement approach.

Burnham in Chicago: Joe Schwieterman, Ph.D., Director, DePaul University Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development

Dr. Schwieterman described Chicago and the many centennial celebrations in the next year.

  • The celebrations are accompanied by a great civic pride.
  • As an urban planner, Burnham gave us a literacy and ability to talk about a region collectively; he created a platform for discussion across all disciplines.
  • Vincent promoted helping people with basic needs, Burnham believed cities needed to go beyond basic needs and inspire citizens.

Burnham Ideals: Karen Feil, Swedenborg Library

Ms. Feil discussed the role of Swedenborgian values in Daniel Burnham’s life.

  • She shared a few observations by Dr. Kristen Schaffer from her recent research on the original draft of the Plan of Chicago that demonstrate Burnham’s faith-based values found in that document.
  • Burnham was raised in a Swedeborgian home and practiced his faith throughout his life, including conducted private services with his family and friends from his home in Evanston.
  • A few of the Swedenborgian values evident in Burnham’s life:
    • Faith in Divine Providence – Burnham was known for his fortitude in leading himself and others through challenges, such as those he experienced as director of the World’s Columbia Exposition. The life of use – Burnham’s end purpose and joy of work is usefulness to society.
    • Partnership status of women – Burnham’s draft plan advocates meaningful work for women, and childcare for mothers among other services.
    • The life of faith, charity and good works – Burnham gave generously, volunteered his work on the Plan, and worked to support institutions of service.

Vincent in Paris: Alex Papadopoulos, Ph.D., Vincentian Scholar and Chair DePaul Geography Department

As background for Vincent’s life in Paris, Dr. Papadopoulos contextualizes the geopolitics of Europe.

  • Vincent was born into a dismal time, France was emerging from decades of war.
  • Vincent entered into aristocratic service, he was fully aware the state wasn’t cohesive and there was a danger to cohesion of religion.
  • Vincent left aristocratic service and resurrected Catholicism in the French periphery by providing services for the poor. He was then able to mobilize female and aristocratic labor and capital which expanded far beyond the French periphery.
  • Ultimately Vincent’s work transformed the church by creating a cadre of priests and created new ways to organize charity. His work also transformed the French state, as his missions provided services that supplanted the state.

Burnham in Manila: Willi Buhay, Filipino American Historical Society of Chicago

Mr. Buhay shared his international perspective as a child in Manila and later, an adult in Chicago.

  • Willi illustrated how Burnham crossed his path in his old and new home, Manila and Chicago, when he describes his father’s favorite boulevard. Later that boulevard would serve as a model for Chicago’s Lakeshore Drive.
  • Burnham’s name will not be forgotten in the Philippines, it is still present in different buildings and parks.
  • Willi has seen landmarks give way to new buildings and people forgetting the importance of art and culture; but he believes no matter how much a great man’s vision faces destruction or corruption, he will prevail.

Burnham in Baguio: Rachel Bohlmann, PhD. American Historian, Newberry Library

Dr. Bohlmann provided the context of the Philippines at the time Burnham developed his plans of Manila and Baguio.

  • Manila and Baguio presented American leaders with opportunities to effect progressive reforms and at the same time, they were cities in which Americans could and did express US imperial identity and authority in the Philippines.
  • Burnham was commissioned by the United States government and reported to the war department. Unlike the 2009 commemoration of Burnham’s Plan of Chicago, the Plan of Manila and Baguio were not grassroots movements, but a top-down attempt by the US government to re-shape Manila and create a new city, Baguio.
  • When Burnham arrived in the Philippines in 1904, there was continued war against American imperialism.
  • Burnham believed in the US’s imperialist project and wanted to create infrastructure for the Philippines to work better.
  • Eventually, Filipinos appropriated Burnham’s plan as a means to argue for their independence.
  • The Newberry Library will be hosting Plans of Manila and Baguio City Exhibit June 1, 2009 to July 15, 2009.

University in the City Panel Discussion

Vincent in Manila: Liezl Alcantara, Ph.D., Candidate Community Psychology, DePaul University

Ms. Alcantara described her time in Manila studying participatory poverty reduction research, as well as the impact it had on her as a Filipino American.

  • Liezl strives to be a Vincentian in action, a process of spiritual growth
    • The way of appreciation: compassion
    • The way of dialogue: struggle – humility, dignity and voice
    • The way of solidarity: bound liberation

Vincent in Chicago: Howard Rosing, Ph.D., Director of the Steans Center for Community Based Service Learning and Service Studies

Howard describes a new urban imperialism – gentrification.

  • An expansion of cities that does not take a community’s people into consideration.
  • The new urban imperialism is the context which we must currently work and it is inherently political.
  • The Steans Center works with DePaul students to engage them with community based organizations that are directly linked to their course work. The effort is to build socially engaged learning, linked to an agenda and truly have an impact on students and organizations
  • Vincent meets Burnham in Chicago – poverty reduction and new urban imperialism meet. What would a DePaul “plan” look like? The purpose of DePaul University is to work with the community and be of service to them. We need to act in ways that are sensitive to the communities around us.

A Call to Serve and Transform: Charles Strain, Ph.D., Professor of Religious Studies

Dr. Strain opened his discussion with a summary of what he learned from the conference, “Burnham was somewhat of a liberal imperialist – which is not an oxymoron.”

  • Charles described the Vincentian philosophy behind Adamson University’s education:
    • Of the poor – provides the poor accessibility to education.
    • From the poor – perspective taken from where the poor stand.
    • With the poor – work in solidarity with those who have less.
    • For the poor - education is transformational and promotes advocacy and students are oriented to have preferential treatment of the poor.
  • He explained that the conference had brought him to some wonderful “what if” reflective questions:
    • What if the Olympic village was, in part, designed by people on the South Side of Chicago?
    • What if the Filipino government invited Americans to move its embassy and build something more modest? What if an Adamson University architectural student re-designed it?
    • What if DePaul took Adamson University’s philosophy to heart and it became a core concept as it designed its curriculum?
    • What if DePaul and Adamson truly entered into global solidarity in collaboration with faculty and student exchanges?

Big Plans Less Poverty Award Announcement:

Liz Wilp and Willi Buhay announced the winners of the Manila Urban Poverty Reduction Student Competition.

Project Team: Quiapo I

Fourth Year Architecture students Adamson University

Alessandro Trinidad - Team Leader – Coming to Chicago in June 2009

Jillian Marc Alvarez

Jenneline Quinto

Finally, participants informally discussed: Who was Daniel Burnham, who was Saint Vincent DePaul, and what can we learn from them today on engagement for urban renewal and poverty reduction?


3 comments:

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