Raze, Rebuild, Repeat: Champlain College Students Investigate the Impact of Urban Renewal in Burlington, 1963-2023

Local History Exhibition and Event

November 30, 2023 at 6:30 p.m.

Please RSVP here. RSVPs are required by November 15th, 2023.

In 1963 the residents of Burlington voted to approve an urban renewal project that reshaped the downtown area culturally and economically. As a result of the vote, the residential neighborhood previously known as “Little Italy” was demolished and replaced with retail spaces, offices, and other urban amenities. This economic redevelopment still resonates within Burlington’s culture and deeply impacts the people within the city. With funding from the Council of Independent Colleges, given through the Public Good Grant, Champlain College students and Preservation Burlington were given the time to investigate how. Join us during Champlain’s 10th annual Local History Event on November 30 at 6:30 to follow our students through their creative investigation in answering the question; how has urban renewal impacted the city of Burlington? 

In the classroom, Dr. Jonathan Banfill and his students in Urban Sonic Placemaking class, led the charge in the study of sound and how sounds in Burlington have changed alongside urban development. The album review, written by members in the class, explains the outcomes of the project best, “Burlington Sonic Hauntologies is an album that encapsulates the spirit of a city undergoing constant change. Through a kaleidoscope of sonic forms, the album weaves together a rich tapestry of soundscapes, field recordings, spoken word, historical artifacts, and musical experimentation. The result is a hauntingly beautiful and deeply evocative journey that transports the listener through the many dimensions of Burlington, Vermont and the history of Urban Renewal”.  

Jordan Douglas and his photography students captured moments in Burlington which express the physical changes caused by urban development. Along with the soundtrack of Burlington Sonic Hauntologies, a collection of these photos will be on display in the Champlain Art Gallery the entire month of November.  

With assistance from our special collections librarian and mentorship from Dr. Van Dora Williams, lead student researcher Lily Sakaniwa ‘23, produced a two part podcast that highlighted the impacts of urban development in the City of Burlington. The podcast, “Outside the Fence”, is a two part interview with Monica Farrington, a lifelong resident of Burlington and focuses on the relocation process of residents and where the city of Burlington failed them. Dive deeper into the research Sakaniwa conducted and listen to her entire interview with Monica on Soundcloud.  

Sakaniwa continues to tell the story of “Little Italy ” through a camera lens. With the help of the grant, she put her production skills to work in developing the documentary, “Razing for Progress: The Story of Urban Renewal in Vermont”. The documentary focuses on the humanitarian effects of demolishing “Little Italy” and exposes the experience of Burlington residents who used to call it home. “Razing for Progress” will be screened at the Local History Event on November 30 at Champlain’s Center For Communication and Creative Media building. 

This showcase event is made possible by a generous donation from Pat Robins and Lisa Schamberg. Watercolors of historic locations in Little Italy by local artist Amanda Amend will also be featured.

Please RSVP here. RSVPs are required by November 15th, 2023.