Housing and Homelessness
Friday November 18
The arts are not simply a mirror of society. Rather, they are a driving force behind many social transformations. The arts communicate ideology and mobilize people all along the political spectrum. They foster solidarity around shared purposes, values, and identities and provide elements of aesthetic pleasure that can inspire creative responses to fear, oppression, and exploitation. The arts are also tactical interventions in their own right, providing a method for critique and resistance.
How can the arts be married with digital technologies to tell new stories of anti-racism? In this session, the co-presenters ask attendees to experience two new narratives constructed using 360° video cameras. This relatively new technology enables creators to capture an experience and invite audiences into them virtually, almost as bystanders. The two narratives at the heart of this session concern firsthand accounts of racial microaggressions. They demonstrate how new technologies can be a creative, expressive tool for learning about and working through racial microaggressions.
The session offers the opportunity to view the videos with VR headsets. As the videos were the products of a new course, Rehearsals in Anti-racism, the course designer and student creatives share the impetus behind the projects. They discuss the key concepts guiding their creative practice, and invite attendees to participate in a critical dialogue about the promises and perils of racial storytelling, reflection, and learning with new technologies. Special attention is given to how VR can help with healing after a racial event, but also risks retraumatizing visitors to virtual spaces.
Our current economic system is unsustainable—for our neighborhoods, our cities, and our planet. What would it look like to live in a world that valued regeneration and cooperation? What would it take to transform the current economy into one rooted in racial, economic, gender, and environmental justice? Share and learn with organizers who are creating community land trusts, worker-owned businesses, financial cooperatives, and public banks to give Black and brown communities shared ownership and control of land, housing, jobs, and finance. Participants will identify systems of extraction in our current economy and examine how those systems operate at neighborhood and citywide levels, and beyond. This provides a foundation for breakout groups where participants envision what a new economy could and should look like in their community, and how to get there.
Saturday November 19
Deeply-entrenched toxic narratives such as scarcity, individualism, and the inevitability of inequality, are serious obstacles in the fight for land, housing, and racial justice. Five years ago, advocates and organizers from 16 racial and housing justice groups came together with renowned artists from all over the country to identify and deconstruct these harmful narratives, while creating visionary alternatives. Join members of our groundbreaking BIPOC-led collective, Rise-Home Stories, to learn how we created a body of award-winning multimedia projects that advance new narratives of abundance and collective action to support grassroots organizing.
-Alejandria Fights Back! / ¡La Lucha de Alejandria! - a bilingual, illustrated children’s book whose 9-year-old Afro-Latinx heroine fights evictions on her block.
-Dot’s Home - a time-travel video game that allows players to experience racist housing policies over decades, through the eyes of one Black family living in Detroit.
-But Next Time - a podcast lifting up community-led responses to climate-fueled disasters.
-MINE - The pilot of an animated web series set in a future utopia fueled by sentient water, whose protagonist is Blaze, a non-binary Black teenager.
-StealEstate - an interactive web experience featuring audio storytelling and dynamic illustration that makes the case against the financialization of housing.
In our breakout session, you’ll hear how advocates became storytellers and artists became advocates as they shared creative decision-making power. You’ll also learn how you can use this media to support your own organizing and narrative work. We’ll help you identify harmful narratives that affect your social justice work and brainstorm visionary alternatives.
From redlining to urban renewal to highway construction, which segregated and displaced communities of color, we know racism is baked into the places we live. This shows up as race- and place-based disparities in our built and natural environments. With deep knowledge and practice, urban planner and DEI consultant Ebony Walden will team up with activist and urban agriculture expert Duron Chavis to share their recent projects that highlight place-based narrative change, thought leadership, and solutions focused on dismantling racism and reimagining their city, Richmond, Virginia. Duron will discuss his recent video series, Black Space Matters, where he highlights the voices of Black leaders and their work for community change as well as display his work on urban greening projects and the development of the Bensley agri-hood – a planned community that builds affordable housing around urban agriculture for and lead by POC. Ebony will highlight the narrative change and thought leadership project, Richmond Racial Equity Essays (RREE), which is a multimedia project (essay ebook, 8 episode podcast, and 7 episode video interview series) she co-curated with Duron, focused on highlighting practical ways to advance racial equity in Richmond and other US cities. Ebony and Duron will share clips, solutions, and lessons learned from their work and engage participants in a conversation about how these issues show up and these solutions can take root in the places they live.
SICH’s Plan centers Leading With Equity as a key pillar that also undergirds identified strategic actions across all other pillars. Through this Plan, USICH will collaborate with federal partners, people with lived expertise, and community partners to embed equity across data collection and evidence generation, cross-sector collaboration, homelessness prevention and emergency response, and the provision of housing and services. We know racial equity is a priority for this administration and with homelessness, we want to examine and challenge existing norms, policies, and practices that have and continue to perpetuate stark and persistent racial disparities to promote intentionality and accountability.
As part of the forthcoming dissemination and implementation strategy of the Plan with a diverse set of partners, USICH hopes for the opportunity to engage with Race Forward conference participants in a breakout session focused on strategic planning, speaking truth to power, and better understanding on-the-ground barriers and successes to disrupting profound racial and other disparities in homelessness and other mainstream systems.
After providing detail on USICH’s internal equity work as well as the creation of the Plan and its contents, USICH and federal partners seek to learn from conference perspectives about how to shift narratives, programs, and policies to recognize and commit to eliminating racial and other disparities through facilitated discussion and small group strategic planning. As part of this process of listening and learning, we commit to uplifting and embedding the lived expertise of conference participants across research, policy, and practice in our numerous strategies outlined in the Plan.
Among us all there are basic needs we strive for. The need for shelter, for a roof, for protection from the elements is as old as time. The rapid growth of white supremacist western culture has been a journey towards a lack of culture that refuses accountability as well as community. Unchecked growth without the symbiosis of surrounding life is the definition of cancer.
Today we are seeing a lack of housing, nutrition, and education on a global scale. How could this happen? Some of us are asking. This was always going to be the only outcome when profit became the focal point of a society. Now we are speeding ahead towards a cliff, and some of us are rushing to engage the breaking system with everything in us. Of course, survival is also a core need within us all. But there is a case to be made for survival beyond the lesser of evils.
Working with unhoused people in recent years has taught me that people are adaptable and strong and vulnerable and rigid. I approached this work expecting to learn about “the homeless” and what I learned is why I am not currently “unhoused.” Because now without a doubt I can tell you that I am no different from anyone on the street. And neither are you. We have been born into a set of circumstances that has written a favorable probability for us to be here right now.
With massive investments in climate and infrastructure across varying scales, how can we meaningfully embed racial equity into grantmaking processes, outcomes, and implementation? This session spotlights three case studies and lessons learned from the California Strategic Growth Council (SGC), housed within the California Governor’s Office of Planning and Research. Statewide grant programs featured include: the expansion of the Transformative Climate Communities (TCC) program to include Disadvantaged Unincorporated Communities (DUCs) through mapping, data, and an Investment Framework; the integration of community planning and space activation with the High Speed Rail Authority in Fresno; and the development of the new Community Resilience Centers (CRC) program, funding both physical and social infrastructure for emergencies and year-round programming. Join to learn more about how the state of California approaches community-led program design, implementation, and evaluation.