Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Letter Crediting Me With Helping Bring The Urban Design Assistance Team To Dundalk

In 2001, an Urban Design Assistance Team came to Dundalk, Maryland.

Every year, a team of architects and designers choose one community in America to give a week’s worth of professional help to in planning a better future for the town. The community must show need and have potential.

The chosen community must provide the UDAT team members with transportation to and from the community. And while the team members are in the community, working on the UDAT project, the community must provide the team members with a good place to sleep, plenty to eat and a well equipped, comfortable work space.

During the week long UDAT visit, the team tours the entire community. They meet with local community groups and any other local residents, in order to gather input from the community on what good changes residents want to see happen, in their community.

At the end of the week, the team puts together an all encompassing 5-10-15-20-30 year plan for the revitalization of the hosting community.

I was instrumental in bringing the UDAT to my community of Dundalk, Maryland. I also worked with them through their one week visit and took some good photographs of the entire UDAT process. Some of those photos are on this web site.

From 1998 to 2003, I was a part time photography student at Dundalk Community College. The instructors and photo lab aides there really knew what they were doing; they helped me to become a damn good custom color photo printer, in the wet lab there. Because the of the lab's high standards, while I was on my way to becoming so good in the lab, I had to make numerous copies of all the prints I made. When working towards those high standards, it's hard to get a print’s color absolutely correct. Consequently, by the time that I ended up with enough color correct copies of each of my prints to satisfy myself, I had some extra prints which nobody but the lab personnel and I could tell were slightly off color.

All along during my time as a photo student I produced photographs of Dundalk. This is photogenic community, swear to it. Check out this entire blog and you’ll see a good cross section of those Dundalk photos.

During the summer of 2001, previous to the Urban Design Assistance Team coming to Dundalk I had some of those extra prints of my Dundalk photos sent to the team leader, Peter Batchelor.

The following letter he sent me explains what the effect those photos had on him.

A copy of the letter was published in our widely read local newspaper, the Dundalk Eagle.

Click on Peter Batchelor's letter to see it on a separate web page; then click on that image of the letter to enlarge it, so you can read it.

Here is the letter in text format.

College of Design, Room 308
North Carolina State University
Raleigh, NC 27695 - 7701

Regarding the photographic accomplishments of David Robert Crews, Dundalk, Maryland. During the year 20011 had the special privilege of working with David on the Dundalk Urban Design Assistance Team (UDAT) project. The UDAT process provides volunteer teams of skilled planning and design professionals to communities who can demonstrate a need, and is modeled on national and state teams of a similar nature. The Dundalk UDAT was conducted in the community's town center from October 31 to November 7 of that year.

Dundalk, a suburb of Baltimore, Maryland was planned under the leadership of Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. in 1918 using the principles of Garden City planning. Up to and including World War II Dundalk was a blue collar steel making and shipbuilding community. The bulk of heavy industry eventually moved away to other locations, and the waterfront currently functions as a warehousing and a container transshipment center. Recent economic trends indicate the need for public and private investment in order to reclaim both the original charm and livability of Dundalk's original design and its physical connection to Metropolitan Baltimore. In short, the town was in need of revitalization and my basic task was to assemble the most experienced team of design professionals to help the community with this goal.

At some point in the project I began to question the advisability of my conducting yet another design mission to an American community, especially in view of an approaching retirement. Then one day I saw the work of David Crews and all doubts in this matter disappeared. He is a talented and sensitive photographer, and his images of the Dundalk's folkways, with their gritty reality, revealed that David is a perceptive observer of the human condition and a true documentary photographer.

I have to credit David with providing me with an infusion of energy to continue with the project. His photographs of the people of the community at major celebrations and in daily life capture the soul of Dundalk's residents. His documentation of the character of Dundalk's citizens deserves greater recognition than he has received so far, and I am hoping the my support will bring a key figure to light in the world of photography.

Dundalk is a proud community with an impressive history of contributions to American society.

David Crews is one of its citizens capable of shaping the collective vision of the town, and to this end I believe he deserves recognition of his accomplishments.

Peter Batchelor, FAIA, FAICP
Professor of Architecture
Director, Urban Design Assistance Program

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