Ann B. Daigle

Ann B. Daigle is an urban planner and designer specializing in humane approaches to community building. Her passion is the regeneration of historic neighborhoods into vibrant, beautiful and walkable places. She happily lives and works in the great City of New Orleans, Louisiana, where she is a community activist and serves as advisor to Smart Growth Bywater. Ann’s past posts include Manager of the New Orleans “Culture of Building” and Crafts Apprenticeship Programs for the Prince’s Foundation for Community Building, Urban Development Manager for the City of Ventura, CA, and Special Advisor to the Mississippi Development Authority for the post-Katrina Gulf Coast. She is also a partner in The Company Farm Pecan Grove & Market, a family-owned farm in North Louisiana. Her educational background is in Architecture, Communications and Social Psychology.

The Lean Business of Place-Based Enterprise

Within every community are two economies: one is locally generated, or “place-based,” and sustains assets at home, while the other operates remotely, extracts local value, and sends it elsewhere. Regeneration of a community depends on retaining and growing small, locally owned enterprises that simultaneously build cultural, social, built and financial capital. While big businesses dominate global markets, command the entrenched financial and banking powers and are incentivized by misguided government policy, emerging startups can disrupt the status quo and prove that local economies can compete successfully if they connect with their customer base and build capacity through local networks. The challenge for Lean Urbanism is to take charge at the association and neighborhood levels: to monitor, harness and replicate emerging local business successes and through bottom-up vigilance influence top-down policy to change not just the economic dynamics of a region, but strengthen its cultural, social and built landscape.

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Lean Opportunity Resides in Small Towns

At a time when we are re-connecting with our urban roots, a return to Small Town America may be the perfect anecdote for recouping a vast amount of discarded national wealth in infrastructure, natural resources and historic architecture while simultaneously building community in a Lean way, with Lean tools and tactics. Our rural and suburban landscape is home to a network of more than 25,000 small urban gems boasting hidden assets and opportunities — places that may be the best locations to pioneer trends in Lean living, entrepreneurial business and building.

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