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Since PolicyLink wrote those words in , parks equity has become more widely understood as a core component of good city-building policies and practices.

Economic Freedom by the Numbers

During Infrastructure Week , we should celebrate that awareness but double down on our commitment to achieve more tangible results. The case for community parks and trails as drivers of economic growth and rising property values has been repeatedly and effectively made and signature projects such as the Atlanta Beltline and the New York High Line have shown how places can be revitalized through the smart activation of green space. But with the growth bonuses from parks have come sharp questions about who gets to live near them and enjoy their benefits, as gentrification and displacement concerns have become more urgent in many cities.

The essential role of parks in creating conditions that advance health and well-being has similarly been well documented. Children, youth, and adults of all ages need easy access to places to exercise, play, gather as a community and seek respite from the stress of daily life. Here too, though the equity challenges remain, as parks not favored by wealthy donors are often chronically underfunded, which undercuts operations and maintenance as well as acquisitions. Progress towards parks equity can be found in the arena of public policies, as local governments have explored new models for financing, from new twists on familiar taxes, bonds and fees, to new guidance for conservancies and public-private partnerships, to more innovative methods for capturing the value of adjacent development or establishing land trusts.

Each of these mechanisms can be assessed with respect to who bears the financial burden, who benefits, and who makes the decisions. Cities should adopt the more equitable paths to new funding and allocation of resources, and states and the federal government should encourage and incentivize the right choices with their bond and grant program. The most exciting frontier for parks equity might be at the level of individual projects where local organizations have built or revitalized parks in low-income communities by incorporating arts and cultural strategies into their approach.

For example, Zuni Pueblo, New Mexico, is a place of powerful cultural and spiritual resilience. The Zuni nation has survived hundreds of years of systematic oppression and disempowerment while maintaining cultural and linguistic integrity. In the past few years, the Zuni Youth Enrichment Project ZYEP has worked with partners to offer youth programs that emphasize the importance of Zuni language acquisition, traditional agriculture practices, Pueblo art forms, traditional songs and dances, culturally significant sites, oral storytelling, and connection to the elders.

These culturally enriching activities are designed to promote physical activity, improve nutrition, and provide a safe space where Zuni youth can connect to positive role models. The artists acted as mediators, organizers introducing staff to new community partners , designers who worked with the architects, and even builders who constructed parts of the park.

By forging new partnerships with artists and cultural producers, they worked with residents of the Strawberry Mansion area to illustrate their neighborhood history and opened up a previously unfamiliar historic house as a welcoming center for community performances and exhibits. The Conservancy became better equipped to tap into critical community voices to ensure that current and future planning and decision-making processes for new park investments are truly collaborative.

Green infrastructure projects have the potential to bring needed benefits to low-income communities — greener and healthier environments, better infrastructure to withstand extreme climate events, local jobs in the growing sustainability sector, and more. But too often, low-income people and people of color living in these places face increased displacement pressure once these investments come to their communities.

Green gentrification can seem like an inevitable outcome of investing in urban forests, parks, bioswales, and clean rivers in places that have faced decades of disinvestment and racist policies and practices.


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Join us tomorrow for a webinar by the Urban Waters Learning Network on addressing gentrification and displacement in green infrastructure projects. PolicyLink Senior Associate Chris Schildt will present on the drivers of displacement and what advocates for green infrastructure can do to promote investment without displacement. The first in a series hosted by the Urban Waters Learning Network , this webinar aims to frame the topics of gentrification and displacement as well as provide an example of the types of multi-sector partnerships that urban waters practitioners can create to ease displacement pressures.

Chris Schildt from PolicyLink will then address the following questions:. Exploring these topics further, Tony Defalco from Verde will share information about a multi-sector partnership called Living Cully.

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In the Cully neighborhood of Portland, Living Cully partners strive to balance environmental investments, equitable development and anti-displacement goals. This year, UWLN is digging deeper into a topic that has long been a concern of its members: the gentrification and displacement of people taking place in our urban communities, oftentimes following efforts to revitalize and reinvest in the places we call home.

UWLN will be addressing this topic in the coming months through this webinar series, blog posts, impact stories, and other resources. Learn more and register today! At PolicyLink, we know that smart, targeted, equitable investments in infrastructure can have a transformative impact on low-income communities and communities of color.

This week we will be posting a new blog each weekday exploring infrastructure equity. Infrastructure can provide transformative benefits to communities, but the story of infrastructure in the United States has often been devastating for Indigenous people, people of color, and low-income communities. From the transcontinental railroads that destroyed native lives and accelerated European occupation , to the demolition of entire communities in the mid th century spurred by urban renewal and freeway expansion , to the ongoing pattern of locating pollution generating infrastructure and industry in neighborhoods that are home to low-income people and people of color , to the persistent lack of investment that has left millions of people in urban and rural communities without safe drinking water, sidewalks, parks, or other critical infrastructure — for too many people, infrastructure has been an oppressive force.

A way to consolidate wealth and power for some while reinforcing racial and economic exclusion. Today, we have an opportunity to change this. Our infrastructure is in serious need of attention. Growing populations, resource-intensive development patterns, new technology requirements of a rapidly changing economy, and several decades of underinvestment have combined to create a huge backlog of infrastructure projects all over the country—in urban, suburban, and rural areas.

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This backlog combined with the clear evidence that our existing infrastructure is not serving the communities who will soon constitute the majority , and the growing impacts of climate change , creates an opportunity for us to step out of our past and radically reimagine how we plan for, build, and maintain our infrastructure systems. Over the next four days we will explore these recommendations further and will join our partners from around the country to reimagine infrastructure so that we can Build4Equity and BuildForTomorrow. As businesses across the nation vie to increase revenue and market share, they are seeking not only to retain customers but also to continually expand into new markets.

Much has been written about the demographic change engulfing the American market: by , a majority of people in the U. However, a majority of people of color in the United States suffer worse socio-economic outcomes in most aspects of their lives—health, education, career, access to financial services, or experiences with the criminal justice system—than their White counterparts.

If status quo remains, and a majority of corporate stakeholders such as customers, employees, and suppliers continue to experience racial inequities, then businesses will suffer from a less productive workforce, missed market segments and fewer suppliers from which to choose.

The research in the report highlights examples of companies that have gained competitive advantage by advancing racial equity. Our research led us to explore specific steps business leaders can take to future-proof their businesses by addressing these inequities. With support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, FSG and PolicyLink examined two industries where racial inequities are most severe—health care and financial services—to explore how companies in these sectors are advancing racial equity in ways that create business value.

Although these industries are vastly different, our research found 5 action-steps and 3 internal catalysts that are applicable to any industry and that must be adopted by business leaders who want to remain competitive. Here, we share examples from our research on the healthcare and financial services sectors in addition to highlighting opportunities for companies in other sectors. As the business world begins to adopt a racial equity point of view we are inspired by bold innovations that are emerging across sectors and markets. Companies must offer products or services that effectively meet the distinctive needs of markets of color.

To enable that, companies need to:. The same phenomenon of differential access to transportation could also affect companies in other industries. Amazon uses many factors to determine which ZIP codes are ripe for its same day service, including the distance to the nearest fulfillment center, local demand in an area, as well as the ability of various carrier partners to deliver up to pm every single day. The underlying algorithm, however, perhaps did not consider how communities of color historically lack equal access to transportation, and inadvertently, Amazon denied those ZIP codes same-day service.

Since the publication of the Bloomberg report, Amazon made a decision to expand the coverage. Companies should work to reverse the effects of structural racism by strengthening the external business context — thus enabling their future growth.

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To do that, companies must undertake the following steps:. Companies must also ensure that internal organizational conditions support this this work. Essential factors include:. Contact Us to join companies that are working with FSG and PolicyLink to find new business opportunities by advancing racial equity. During the convening, more than speakers will be sharing successful strategies that promote equitable development, bolster small businesses, encourage asset growth, remediate blight, make places healthier, weave the arts into community development, and more.

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If you have yet to register or make plans to go to the conference, advance registration ends April 9. If you are already planning on attending, here are the sessions you hope to join us for:. Engage in an interactive workshop facilitated by PolicyLink to learn from leaders of community-based organizations who found ways to disrupt mainstream organizational and community development processes to advance racial equity.

This workshop will feature new research from PolicyLink on innovative ways to achieve more equitable outcomes such as non-traditional partnerships, organizational shifts, and arts and cultural strategies.

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Monday April 15, pmpm. Lessons from the Great Recession and digital innovations have changed the financial services landscape dramatically over the past decade, leading to an experience that is safer and more seamless for consumers. Unfortunately, accessing the right financial tools is still not easy or affordable for low- and moderate-income LMI communities, especially those of color. What does the future of banking hold for LMI communities?