Kami Pothukuchi, Ph. D.
Kami Pothukuchi is associate professor and chair of the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at Wayne State University. She is the founding director of SEED Wayne, a campus-community collaborative dedicated to building student leadership on sustainable food systems at WSU.
Her action research examines how interventions in community food systems may advance goals in public health, economic development, social justice, and sustainability.
Dr. Pothukuchi’s research and professional activities have helped create the sub-field of food planning within the broader field of urban planning. She has published papers on a variety of topics including access to vacant land for urban agriculture, attracting supermarkets to under-served neighborhoods, assessing community food systems, food system planning and policy-making, and university leadership in sustainable food systems.
Dr. Pothukuchi is a member of the city of Detroit’s Urban Agriculture Work Group, a co-founder and past member of the Detroit Food Policy Council (2009-2014). She also served on the boards of several local and national organizations, and was a co-convenor of the Food Planning Interest Group of the American Planning Association from 2005 to 2014. She has been a member of ACSP for more than a decade and serves as the chair for the “Planning, Education and Pedagogy” track for the ACSP Annual Conference.
Here’s more from our conversation with Dr. Pothukuchi:
Q: What's your favorite project you’ve worked on?
Q: What future goals do you have in your field?
A: Current: educating communities about land access for urban agriculture; building/empowering community capacity for food systems planning.
Q: How has planning school changed your daily habits?
A: I am more mindful of the environmental impact of my daily life: I live in an old house within walking distance of amenities to downtown, but also commute to work by car in a transit-poor region. My community engagement is more informed by justice/empowerment issues.
Q: What did you want to be when you were growing up?
A: It changed daily, but I wanted to combine creative and technical work in a field that had public impact, and I believe that planning allows this.
Q: How many different cities have you lived in and which was your favorite?
A: I liked aspects of all of the five cities in which I lived, but I especially loved living in Bengaluru, India, because it facilitated great personal and professional growth at an important moment in my life.
Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
A: I would like to travel to all of the major cities in the world--especially in East and Southeast Asia and Latin America. I'm a city gal and love exploring cities!
Q: What is the title of the last book you read? What did you learn from it?
A: Re-read Tom Lyson's Civic Agriculture. Small businesses are central to a vibrant community and need actively to be supported in planning!
Q: What’s your favorite color and how would you creatively incorporate it into a planning project?
A: I love fall colors and think that four-season places should incorporate landscapes with a view to these palettes!