Boats are seen tossed around after Hurricane Harvey passed through on August 26, 2017 in Rockport, Texas. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
By Brandon Webb, Texas A&M University Office of the Provost
When Hurricane Harvey lined up to maul the Texas coast one year ago, the massive storm drew a bullseye on Rockport, Texas. It laid waste to the community, one many consider a jewel of the Gulf coast. Closer to Galveston, residents of Hitchcock, Texas saw their tranquil town thrown around like the storm had put it through a spin cycle.
Smaller communities along the coast often lack the resources to zoom out from a catastrophe and do the kind of long-range land use planning and recovery that restores their sense of being and charm, but a program at Texas A&M University aims to help.
The Texas Target Communities (TTC) program brings hundreds students from across Texas A&M together under the leadership of Associate Professor of Practice John Cooper and Associate Director Jaimie Hicks Masterson.
Cooper, who also serves as assistant vice president for public partnership and outreach in the Office of the Provost at Texas A&M, works with Masterson and Texas A&M faculty to guide student-driven TTC projects that develop growth and development plans for rural counties, small towns and under-served communities around the state. The TTC brings the fearless imagination and limitless creativity of faculty and students to bear on big problems, including how to craft plans based on a 20- to 30-year vision for enhanced growth, development and innovation for targeted cities.
The Texas towns of Rockport and Hitchcock were selected by TTC as Community Partners for 2018-2019, and faculty, staff and students at Texas A&M are already hard at work assisting city leaders in the long-range planning to reimagine and rebuild. The process is community-focused and creates a vision for the future of the cities, along with specific goals and priorities for land use and strategic growth.
The end result is a customized strategy for a return to the “towns that were,” only better–better prepared to weather the next big event and better prepared to offer residents and guests the kind of coastal charms unique to Rockport and Hitchcock.
About Texas Target Communities
Founded in 1980, Texas Target Communities is a service learning program and university-wide community engagement initiative of the Provost’s Public Partnership & Outreach Office and the College of Architecture at Texas A&M University. The program provides opportunities for faculty and students to work alongside local governments and community stakeholders to assist small, under-served communities in creating sustainable futures throughout Texas.
TTC’s work would not be possible without the Department of Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning and the Texas A&M Institute for Sustainable Communities. Other collaborating programs and agencies include the Texas Sea Grant Community Resilience Collaborative, the Texas Rural Leadership Program, the Texas A&M Center for Heritage Conservation, Texas A&M University at Galveston, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, Texas Chapter of the American Planning Association and the American Planning Association.
Media contact: Brandon Webb, 979-458-3012, firstname.lastname@example.org