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Varian Shrum

2015 Champions   |   Charlotte

Varian Shrum was born and raised in the DC area but migrated south to attend Wake Forest University. Seeds of urbanism were planted when a class for her Communication major unexpectedly covered the relationship between the built environment and Public Health, and she was hooked! That moment of inspiration set off a 5 year chain of events that led her to be a Planning & Neighborhood Development Consultant in Charlotte, North Carolina.

As an Emerging City Champion, Varian plans to address the lack of quality public space in her neighborhood by engaging the community in a crowdfunding campaign to bring temporary improvements to an empty lot.

When she’s not busy Instagramming adventures with her husband, Austin, she likes to run, eat local, and re-watch episodes of 30 Rock.

Project Summary: Creating a “neighborhood living room” at an underutilized development site in the heart of Charlotte, where people can gather and connect.

Neighborhood Living Room

A development site in the heart of Charlotte becomes a dynamic gathering place every Friday, but sits empty 164 hours per week. I will lead residents through the process of envisioning a “neighborhood living room,” then seed a crowdfunding campaign to enhance this underutilized space with temporary amenities like flexible furniture, bike racks, and WiFi. This project will engage a new generation of millennial Charlotteans and show them what is possible when they work together to implement lighter, quicker, cheaper solutions in their community.

More info here: