The Mission

The Urban Conservancy is a New Orleans-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization catalyzing equitable policies and practices related to the urban built environment and the local economy through research, education, and advocacy.

A happy neighbor after participating in the Front Yard Initiative

The Urban Conservancy began as a plea for a serious discussion of the responsibilities of wise stewardship of New Orleans’ unique built environment.

One of the greatest resources that New Orleans possesses is the historic urban fabric of the city. This irreplaceable (but renewable) asset is the source of our unique culture, cuisine, music and celebrations.

But the urban fabric that nurtures and nourishes our culture and that has survived remarkably intact for several centuries cannot be taken for granted.

The proliferation 15 years ago of incompatible, auto-centric, suburban-style developments shoehorned into our dense urban grid is what gave birth to the Urban Conservancy.  Today our independent business alliance StayLocal continues to advocate for policies that give our local, independent businesses space to thrive and grow, particularly as New Orleans becomes an increasingly desirable place for deep-pocketed national chain retailers to set up shop.

StayLocal’s Neighborhood Guides

But the Urban Conservancy’s understanding of land use– “the wise stewardship of our built environment”– has become broader and deeper in the last decade.

New Orleans’ landscape is changing. The water surrounding us continues to mold not only our city’s topography, but also our economy, our society, and our identity. As we recognize that water is our greatest challenge but perhaps also our greatest natural asset, we are working with partners to devise systems (of thought, of engineering, of urban design) that wisely manage the water that falls on our sinking, flood-prone, coastal city.

The Urban Conservancy believes that maintaining the historic urban fabric of New Orleans is in the best interest of all New Orleanians, and that to do so requires solutions that acknowledge and respond to the intricate interplay between our built and natural environments.

Proud BASIN students after educating a room full of grownups on stormwater management

Today, the need for ongoing dialogue about the responsibilities of wise stewardship of New Orleans’ unique built environment is more important than ever.  It is our duty, as the current residents, to align our built and natural assets in ways that make our city stronger and safer for all its residents until such time as we pass it on to the next generation.