Jasmine Forbes, City & Regional Planner

How long have you been in the Baltimore/DC area? I was born and raised in Baltimore City and haven’t lived anywhere else. I live in the Lauraville community in Northeast Baltimore.

How did you get into design? I have always had a passion for art and design. I went to the Baltimore School for the Arts and studied visual arts. When I was in high school, I thought about doing architecture, but the college that I went to didn’t have a architecture major or any program related to architecture. In my freshman year at Frostburg State University, I was trying to figure out what career I wanted to do that included some aspect of design. One of required classes that I had to take in my freshman year was a geography class about the movement of people in the world and I found the class very interesting. I had a conversion with my professor after the class and he told me that I should looked into the Urban and Regional Planning major. I had looked at the required classes for the major and decided to take more planning related classes. When I went home over winter break, I did some research about planning and was fascinated by urban development and urban design. Once I graduated from Frostburg with an Urban and Regional Planning degree, I went to Morgan State University to a get masters degree in City and Regional Planning.

How did you first get involved with NDC? When I started graduate school, I was trying to find an internship that could provide me with experience in the planning field and working with the community. I found NDC while looking online and looked at a list of projects that needed volunteers, and thought that volunteering might be interesting thing to try. The first project that I volunteered for was the Highlandtown Schoolyard project and then I was asked to volunteer on the North Avenue Streetscape Plan.

What motivates you to volunteer with NDC? As a planner in Gaithersburg I do not work on many projects within the community. NDC provided me with an opportunity to work on a project with community stakeholders and taught me a different perspective in community involvement and how to interact with community members. I’ve always believed that to have a better understanding of where you are working you need to go to those communities and talk with the residents.

What do you find most rewarding about your work with NDC? I just love volunteering and working with community members. It feels good to know that I am making a difference in the community.

What is inspiring your work now? Just not knowing what’s going to happen next. I feel like there’s always new surprises when I go into work. Things pop up and you’re like, “Oh, I didn’t think about that,” or “I didn’t know that was an issue,” and it makes you think more, and that’s how you learn—especially in the planning field.

Has working with NDC changed the way you practice design? While volunteering with NDC, it made think about more about design and how people interact in public space. When I review plans at work, I make sure that site plans are in conformance with City Code and site plan requirements. NDC provided me with an opportunity to work with other architects, landscape architects, engineers and planners. This opportunity taught me how others think about space and design.