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AYSHA COHEN

Aysha is a Planner at Nspiregreen and a contributing author of several Urban Land Institute (ULI) publications on active transportation, stormwater management, corridor redevelopment and affordable housing. Prior to Nspiregreen, Aysha conducted research with the Fulbright Eco-Leadership program in Canada, the Victoria Transport Policy Institute in Istanbul and the UCLA Institute for Transportation Studies (ITS) in Los Angeles. Her research for the District Department of Transportation (DDOT), “Equity in Motion: Bikeshare in Low-Income Communities”, used geospatial statistics to prioritize station-level improvements for Capital Bikeshare in high poverty areas of Washington, DC. She is a co-founder of the “Olive Tree Initiative: Armenia-Turkey”, an interdisciplinary conflict resolution group. She earned her Masters of Urban & Regional Planning (MURP) at UCLA and speaks Spanish, Turkish and English.

 I became a planner/ engineer because…  I grew between the ancient metropolis of Istanbul, Turkey and the sprawling Los Angeles area suburb of Thousand Oaks, California. Every year, my Turkish, German and American relatives would regale me with colorful stories of their youth. The Frankfurt, Germany of my mother's past had evergreen forests fading to yellow along the autobahn, a Rhine River filled with floating dead fish and children playing in vacant lots filled with rumble. The Los Angeles, California of our neighbors' youth was surrounded by orchards and the remnants of a 1,000+ mile streetcar system. The culture shock I got navigating these perennial family visits always struck me, but it wasn't until I took an Environmental Psychology course 11 years ago that I learned about the urban planning, design and engineering principles that governed the inner workings of my family's hometowns. 

 What would be her dream project?  My dream project would be working on the pedestrianization of Istanbul's Historic Peninsula, a UNESCO heritage site, following the recommendations of Jan Gehl's meticulous 2014 Public Space, Public Life study. While 295 city streets and 9 municipal islands are ostensibly car-free or car-light, research shows harmful particulate matter from automobiles still contaminates the air. As a child, this historic peninsula was the scene of some of my fondest memories. As an adult, I have seen Istanbul's public spaces bring together Turkey's diverse feminist, LGBT, refugee, minority, environmentalist and artistic communities.   

 If I weren't a planner/ engineer…  I would be a community historian. I love looking through archival photos, records and videos, and visually telling stories of through language, music, art, and dance. My inspiration would be the creative films and study guides of Centropa Films, who presented the oral histories of Turkish-Jewish families alongside me at a conference in Istanbul in 2015. 

 EDUCATION 
Masters of Urban and Regional Planning (MURP) – UCLA
Study Abroad - Universitat de Barcelona

Bachelors of Psychology & Social Behavior (BA) - UC Irvine

 

 AFFILIATIONS 
Young Professionals in Transportation (YPT)
Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals (APBP)

 Favorite Things To Do 
Dancing (Brazilian partner dances & Turkish folk), hiking, martial arts (I have my Black Belt in Hapkido), paper crafts, bicycling and cooking

1012 14th Street NW, Suite 915 | Washington, DC 20005

Tel: 202-793-5600 | Fax: 888-347-2417

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