Arts & Crafts: A Forgotten Legacy of Richard Ely

Article authored by:

Ron Thomas, FAICP

Ron Thomas has been a Lambda Alpha member for nearly 20 years. First in Chicago where he served as executive director of the regional planning agency, Northeast Illinois Planning Commission and then in Atlanta from 2010 when he relocated to Athens, GA to serve on faculty at the College of Environment and was chair of the Oconee Rivers Planning Commission from 2011-16. For 20 years he directed his planning firm located in Washington DC; and then became an associated principal with Jones and Jones in Seattle. He continues as a practicing consultant urban planner and is a Fellow of the American Institute of Certified Planners. He has edited the APA Regional Planning Journal and is working on a book on Arts & Crafts era planning, a subject of personal interest for over 40 years. In 2007 the Ely Chapter of LAI awarded him their Harry Chaddick Distinguished Public Service Award.

A current exhibit at the Isabel Gardener Museum in Boston is entitled “When Big Plans Could Change the World”. We hope this two-part series will be a useful resource that frames the other pole of early 20th century urban planning and development. We might title it “When Small Plans Were Creating the World”. It's a legacy that seeks a sustainable, livable future of communities for all and work of innovators like Ely made realistic and practical.

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