2022 Program Topic:
Community and Economic Development
Friday November 18
What is food, and how is it central to timely and urgent conversations around identity, racial justice, community organizing, environmental activism, and decolonization? For so many people, especially BIPOC, food is so much more than what goes in our bellies. It is a lifeline back to other homelands, a conduit for immigrant parents’ love, a medicine that transcends borders, or a map that tells stories of resistance, migration, struggle, survival, and joy. Christopher Tse and Meenakshi Verma-Agrawal will facilitate an interactive space in which we explore and reclaim our relationships with food, community, and identity. Through small group work, circle, and storytelling approaches, this workshop seeks to unpack questions such as: “What’s your favorite cultural practice around food?” “What’s an example of a time you felt embarrassed or ashamed about food?” and “How do you cook your rice?”
In a time of globalization and easy access to other cultures, food has become yet another site of colonialism, power, and white supremacy. Celebrity chefs rave about the utility of turmeric and star anise while gentrification shuts down old kitchen bastions of racialized communities and replaces them with culinary fusion cafes that photograph well for social media. It’s time to reclaim these stories. This workshop is for every kid who’s ever been afraid to open their lunchbox in the cafeteria. We see you, we’ve been there. Let’s talk about shame, and joy, and cut fruit. Let’s talk about spices and identity. Let’s talk about how we cook rice.
Our economy can be an equitable economy–that is, an economy organized around the principle of equity: fair and just inclusion into a society where all can participate, prosper, and reach their full potential. Achieving an equitable economy requires redirecting the full powers of our federal government to redesign our economic systems to truly work for all–especially the 100 million people living in America who are systematically shut out of our country’s prosperity, the majority of whom are people of color. This interactive breakout session presents an actionable framework for centering the 100 million in our economic policy and practice.
The dominant economic narrative serves to both confound our understanding of the problems we collectively face and conceal the practical means for addressing them. What this moment requires is a more practical economic worldview, grounded in fact and premised on equity–a worldview that rekindles our economic imagination and serves as a guide for action, both public and private. Our aim is to break through the deliberate abstractions and obfuscating jargon of economic discourse by providing concrete, actionable analysis that recasts the purpose of our economy as providing for the needs of all, especially the 100 million.
ENERGY: What is it good for?
Absolutely everything! As the fight for racial, social, economic, and environmental justice reaches a boiling point, a critical element is absent: a balanced energy system that nourishes our bodies, supports mutual aid, and keeps the lights on.
Luckily, a growing movement that acknowledges energy as a liberatory tool is being led by communities across the country. From Alaska to Puerto Rico, neighborhoods facing similar struggles–from top-down corporate control and colonial bureaucracies, to waves of white supremacy—are discovering exciting ways to pull back the curtain on the ongoing oppression that blocks community resiliency, safety, and health. In an interactive session, attendees will explore a new narrative wherein energy is not simply a commodity, but a shared resource of our communities for equity and empowerment.
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.
This project, titled Green Is Not White, was designed to explore the impact of climate change on Indigenous and racialized communities in Canada through a collaboration between the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists and the Adapting Canadian Work and Workplaces York University Research Grant. The Green Is Not White workshop examines environmental racism in the context of socio-economic inequalities and access to green jobs for racialized and Indigenous communities and asks participants to consider environmental racism in their own communities and Canada (through examining case studies) to consider the position of their communities in present and future contexts through inclusion in the green economy and to consider taking action. The workshop looks at diverse solutions, such as strategic creativity (e.g., popular education) as a way to realize an inclusive just transition, and considers how individuals can become active in this movement for the betterment of their own communities.
By the end of the workshop participants should be able to describe the term "environmental racism" and identify instances and impacts in racialized and Indigenous communities; understand the connections between environmental racism and the workplace, including who does and does not benefit, and the many ways that racialized and Indigenous activists can take leadership roles to combat inequality; and be able to identify tools, resources, and actions to challenge the inequities faced by racialized and Indigenous communities in the Green Jobs Revolution.
While descendants of these ancestors learned of the excavation and reached out to the city to halt the project, the city won't respond, and tribal governments are conflicted when abiding by federal policy. The United Stated government had enacted laws and regulations which favor and protect land ownership, economic development, and the perpetuation of colonization. This means when Indigenous Peoples have something to rightfully complain about, the U.S. government pulls out their own set of rules, which do not align with Indigenous knowledge and moral systems and identifies federal and state regulations as a superior power.
The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) represents an opportunity and an imperative for local governments to intentionally engage with and invest in Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities and populations who, because of deliberate governmental and institutional policy decisions, are regularly harmed by and disenfranchised from government budgeting processes. ARPA funds can be truly transformational, both as a process to build community power, and because of investments that address community defined priorities. But cities need help to make this a reality. Institutional and cultural polices and engrained practices limit what is thought to be possible, even with an intention to push beyond what has normally been done. In this workshop and based on our experiences in Massachusetts, we will describe, discuss, and collectively identify solutions that: increase power for BIPOC and other disenfranchised populations to decide how public resources get spent (not just provide input), and normalize actions that demonstrate how government can collaborate with residents who have been historically excluded.
Workshop participants will gain ideas, skills, and examples to go back to their communities to:
- Describe ARPA and its opportunity for transformational change, particularly in communities of color
- Amplify key messages related to ARPA and the requirement to embed equity in the process
- Identify examples from the field and brainstorm considerations moving forward
- Apply tools and methods to disrupt traditional decision-making processes in government budgeting processes by advocating for community-led processes
- Practice power and actor mapping with participant’s community in mind
This interactive session will share how frontline leaders are partnering with funders and local government practitioners to advance equitable community-led climate solutions for New Orleans. With funds from Partners for Places and the Greater New Orleans Foundation, the Climate Action Equity Advisory Group, convened by the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice, assessed racial inequities in energy, waste management, transportation, employment, and entrepreneurship that greatly disadvantage Black residents and Black neighborhoods and co-created recommended actions to equitably address climate change and meet the City’s 2030 greenhouse gas reduction goals. Speakers will share key recommendations from "Taking Steps Together on Equity & Climate Change: A Report By and For New Orleanians" and show how community leaders are now working together to implement one or more of the recommended actions.
This interactive session will highlight the knowledge gained and challenges faced by participants in engaging in this cross-sectional work, while also engaging attendees to share their experiences with community-led work and potential solutions to challenges faced.
Black Researchers Collective is focused on building self-sustaining, thriving Black communities by leveraging research strategies and practices in service of racial equity. Born on the south side of Chicago, the mission of the Black Researchers Collective is to equip communities with research tools to be more civically engaged and policy informed. Open to people of all racial and ethnic backgrounds, this session is intended to interactively train conference participants with research tools that they can use for civic activation and policy change. It is intended for folks who desire to be more deeply invested in the long-term improvement of their communities but may be unsure where or how to start. Exploring organizing and movement-building techniques, participants will learn how to identify and take a policy-relevant issue from ideation to a plan of action, using research tools as a capacity-building strategy for parents, organizers, grassroots leaders, and advocates.
Providing a space for possibility. We hope to bi-directionally or in multi-directions, share knowledge, experiences while building community and for us to collectively organize. Combining together with our community to co-create knowledge and tell stories that lead to truth telling that is not present in public schools and providing the tools to get people thinking about the education system and the role it plays in the United States and what exactly can be done.
Offering care, concern, regard, and an opportunity for trust, truth, and community, Freedom school will share its curriculum from its one-day intensive on the political project of freedom schools.
The Biden-Harris Administration’s whole-of-government approach to advancing racial equity and addressing the climate change crisis through executive order, equity action plan, Justice40 initiative, and magnitude of recent federal funding represents a major catalytic moment for communities of color. This session will focus on how a transformative justice framework can be applied to dismantle structural racism, strengthen accountability practices, and address the way public infrastructure investment has been historically used to harm communities of color and low-wealth communities. Panelists will highlight emerging practices, programs, and initiatives that support community-driven solutions, foster institutional change, and support more equitable outcomes in public investment.
Breakout Session Long Description (250 words)*
The Biden-Harris Administration’s whole-of-government approach to advancing racial equity and addressing the climate change crisis through executive order, equity action plan, Justice40 initiative, and magnitude of recent federal funding represents a major catalytic moment for communities of color.
The passage of the historic $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure deal presents a once-in-a-generation investment to embed community-led solutions, equity, and climate priorities in our Nation’s infrastructure. The infrastructure funding combined with the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and the broader flexibility guidance granted for the $1.9 trillion stimulus package, American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) becomes one of the most significant federal investments to U.S. cities, states, and tribal lands. The magnitude of funds and incentives, if implemented equitably, could transform the role public infrastructure plays in shaping just and thriving communities.
This interactive practical session will focus on how to unlock these federal resources using a transformative justice framework to dismantle structural racism, strengthen accountability practices, and address the way public infrastructure investment has been historically used to harm communities of color and low-wealth communities. Panelists will highlight emerging practices, programs, and initiatives that support community-driven solutions, foster institutional change, and support more equitable outcomes in public investment.
In the wake of George Floyd and other Black Americans' murders by police in 2020, and subsequent uprisings, growing calls for a national truth commission and other reparative measures swelled in the United States. Yet, these demands and even their implementation are not new. Global examples of truth and repair mechanisms provide vital information for the prospects and limits of these processes.
While there are numerous examples of truth telling initiatives globally, and even locally in the United States, the value of these approaches has sometimes been overestimated or glorified, preventing us from gaining a comprehensive understanding of their true impact in addressing systemic oppression, as well as the challenges and limitations of their adoption.
In this session, the facilitators will share from their work at the Institutional Antiracism and Accountability Project to investigate, document, and explore global justice, truth telling, and accountability processes around the globe including in Northern Ireland, England, South Africa, Rwanda, and Canada, as well as local U.S. examples in Greensboro, NC, and the state of Maine.
In the second part of the session participants will be divided into small groups, assigned a case study, and invited to practice designing a truth commission, including choosing mechanisms that would be effective for addressing societal harm, and integrating strategies from their own racial justice organizing.
By exploring international examples and tools for action, we will expand our collective understanding of what societal restoration can look like, and propose recommendations for true justice and accountability.
Saturday November 19
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.
Since Reconstruction, the public school has been a central site of struggle for racial justice, from segregation and redlining to curriculum and the school-to-prison pipeline. Any movement strategy that leaves out schools is missing a key element of victory, and ceding ground to the forces of reaction. The anti-Critical Race Theory controversies show that we can't afford to be merely reactive when it comes to public education, but organize communities on an ongoing basis so they're prepared long before the next wave of far right attacks.
How do we break down silos to better integrate the fight for public education into larger movements for racial justice? In this session we’ll hear from practitioners who have organized across disparate issues to bring neighborhoods and cities together, and collectively chart new paths forward for grassroots activism centered in BIPOC communities.
What are the possibilities when communities of color work collectively across-race to deepen shared power, organize and develop future-forward democratizing practices and structures that offer a vision for true democracy and transformation with racial justice as the horizon?
In this session community leaders from local coalitions and networks will present a snapshot of the vision, values, culture and practices that are informing this push for community ownership of the institutions that determine their lives. Multi-sectoral efforts for racial justice necessitate the development of new democratic practices that place r transformation at the front and center, along with prioritizing of transparency, accountability, and deeper relationships – centering bold solutions for the long haul.
Speakers TBD but will include representatives from local coalitions and networks in the Puget Sound and Northern California who are building multiracial power for racial justice and transformation in their communities. The session will be supported by Fernando Mejia Ledesma, Co-executive Director of Puget Sound SAGE and Jesse Villalobos from Race Forward’s Place-Based Initiatives, who works to support local racial justice networks in deepening their collective power to bring bold vision into fruition.
The PBC community workshops are central to the engagement approach, and include tools and resources to make this learning and sharing experience highly didactic, inclusive, and accessible. PBC is a multidisciplinary project combining skills, assets, and methods from popular education, civic engagement, community organizing, arts, and design. Throughout the breakout sessions we intend to utilize the PBC toolkit to support community workshops. The toolkit includes assets to interactively participate and visually document the different parts of the workshop:
Reflection and visioning - This part facilitates a conversation about experiences and ideation, focuses on sharing personal experiences and collective visions, and is guided by the question: what do our communities need to be safe and thriving? Reflection and envisioning as part of the methodology is foundational, allowing people to connect and expand their imaginations. This will be mostly reflected in the panel discussion and as we begin building a budget.
Participatory budget game - This part is intended to support a collective discussion about budget priorities and shared decision-making. Understanding and comparing budget data is a very powerful aspect of the engagement process. After developing their visionary community budget, participants compare it to a city’s actual budget. This moment ignites action and activates next steps.
Activation and connection - During this part of the workshop, the group is prompted to synthesize key themes and debrief with one another to actualize their work into action.
Ending community violence requires us to innovate, invest, and collaborate across sectors. Smaller cities and underserved regions with high rates of violence have far fewer resources. This is the case in Santa Barbara County, CA, where North County is significantly more diverse and in need of all kinds of services. However, even in SB, it is not enough that rates of youth and gun violence have been managed through strong intervention and prevention efforts; with the proliferation of guns especially, this is not a long-term solution. We must safeguard human life as well as we protect property and interests of wealthy white landowners.
"Community Violence Solutions" will be an important space for information sharing on innovative strategies on violence intervention, prevention, and healing/after-care.
Rebekah Spicuglia and Cristel Ramirez will share the work of One Community Action of Santa Maria Valley, which started as a coalition in response to a rise in violence that took the life of Rebekah's son, Oscar. That violence continues today, including but not limited to shootings and school violence, in a community with a significant population of low-income immigrants and migrant workers. Through organizing, advocacy, and culturally competent services for youth and families, OCA is working to build a safe, vibrant community, with culturally competent institutions supporting equity and access for all.
Refugio "Cuco" Rodruiguez will share how the Hope and Heal Fund is investing in a public health, racial equity, and community-based approach to preventing gun violence in California.
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.
Conspiracy theories. Bigoted rhetoric. Biological essentialism. Political scapegoating. Educators across the country are grappling with heightened ideological and racial tensions that put their students and their school communities at risk. We'll explore the history and rise of white nationalist and other bigoted movements. Then, using the Confronting White Nationalism in Schools toolkit, we'll unpack several strategies that empower educators and students to take back their school communities and build a healthy narrative around race and racial identity. Learn how to build power in your school and with your students to achieve more equitable outcomes for all. This interactive webinar will offer participants the opportunity to practice grappling with real scenarios and leave with actionable tools. We recommend that participants download the toolkit prior to the webinar at https://www.westernstatescenter.org/schools
Income and wealth inequality, exploitative working conditions, and commercial displacement are critical issues faced by communities across the country. Traditional economic development tools often exacerbate inequalities, particularly for those most marginalized by existing economic policies including low-income communities, recent immigrants, returning citizens, and communities of color.
Worker ownership can create jobs with dignity and opportunities for wealth building. While cities and communities are beginning to explore and invest in employee ownership, the strategy is largely underrecognized despite its proven effectiveness.
This session will demonstrate how communities have used worker ownership strategies to create access to stable employment, put productive assets into the hands of workers, and anchor critical assets in the community. Attendees will discuss how these approaches connect to their needs and priorities and will learn how to take the first steps in developing a worker cooperative project in their communities.
Attendees will leave with a toolkit on how to develop a strategy for preserving BIPOC-owned small businesses and/or small businesses with majority BIPOC workforces through transitions to worker ownership. Attendees will also learn how to support the development of a worker cooperative that provides sustainable work and entrepreneurship opportunities for workers with barriers to employment.
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.
Advancing racial equity is the unfinished business of public administration. In 2021, President Biden ushered in a historic shift by signing an Executive Order on Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government. The milestone is part of our nation’s long journey to becoming a more equitable society.
Some federal civil servants started the journey of advancing equity prior to the start of the Biden Administration. As trailblazers, they did not wait until the time was right. Instead, they boldly pushed until the time was right while understanding the importance of remaining persistent.
This session features leaders who were ‘spark-plugs’ for equity as federal civil servants. Because equity is a choice before it becomes an act, discussants will clarify what drives their priorities and values. Experts will explain equity requires breaking out of the siloes that stifle individuals and organizations from advancing creative solutions.
The session is an opportunity for learning among peers that transcends level of government. Attendees will learn stewardship of the common good requires encouraging equity as well. Attendees will learn what discussants gained by changing how they managed projects that were under their purview. Attendees will be reminded significant racial equity progress in government can be achieved even in the absence of a federal mandate.
Chispa Arizona’s Clean & Green Campaign will work with regional leaders, community-based organizations, and community residents to secure resources that prioritize the investments our community and environment need most related to EV public transit & infrastructure, urban green spaces, and complete streets.
What problems are the campaign addressing?
The Phoenix metro area is now the fastest growing in the country. The Phoenix Metro Area air quality is now the fifth most polluted in the country. The National Weather Service recorded 53 days in 2020 with temperatures above 110℉, more than ever before. Over the past five years, heat has been linked to more than 1,500 deaths in Arizona.
What are the solutions?
By investing in EV public transit and infrastructure, we can work to improve our air quality by having less vehicle emissions on our roads. By investing in urban green spaces, greenways, cool corridors, and more complete streets, we will not only mitigate the urban heat island effect, but also provide more transit equity and options for our most-impacted communities.
The goals of the Clean & Green Campaign are to improve our region's air quality through 100% free & electric public transportation by 2035 and reduce the urban heat island effect by increasing 20% of tree shade canopies and investing in complete streets in South & West Phoenix by 2030.
Creative Reaction Lab was founded in support of the Uprising in Ferguson. Today, Creative Reaction Lab is building a youth-led, community-centered movement of a new type of Civic Leader: Redesigners for Justice. We plan to use the allotted time to engage participants in activities developed to dissect the components of the Equity-Centered Community Design (inviting diverse co-creators, building humility and equity, defining and assessing topic and community needs, ideating approaches, rapid prototyping, and testing and learning), which we currently use to redesign our local community. Our goal is for participants to view the youth of color within their community as co-designers and through our technique discover new ways to shift power and integrate them into the redesigning of our country's oppressive systems.
Sylvester Mobley, Alex King, and a representative from Comcast's Impact & Inclusion group will participate in a panel discussion focused on how to build local ecosystems and talent pipelines that foster innovation and support Black and Brown communities with an unstoppable network of education, resources, and support.
They will speak about their experience launching 1Philadelphia, the importance of coalition-building in this work, how to secure institutional support, and how this work can be continued across the country.
In the Fall of 2020, Sylvester Mobley launched the 1Philadelphia Initiative, in collaboration with a network of funders, businesses, and community partners. 1Philadelphia is connecting various stakeholders to collaboratively build a connected tech and innovation education system that will prepare Philadelphia residents for futures in the tech and innovation space from kindergarten through career and/or entrepreneurship.
1Philadelphia’s main drivers of success are measured through increased socioeconomic equity for underrepresented Philadelphia residents. This means more underrepresented people working in fields that provide the ability to generate wealth, such as tech and innovation, moving into leadership positions within tech companies, and more underrepresented founders starting high-growth tech and innovation driven startups that successfully reach meaningful exits.
The first part of the workshop will provide examples of how the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency (PSCAA) has operationalized environmental justice and community engagement. The presenters will share how developing community engagement teams that are cross-functional and multi-disciplinary allows for each team member to apply their understanding, perspective, and recommendations to foster meaningful connections with community partners.
The second part will explore EJ communities of the Puget Sound region. We will hear from community leaders about their lived-experience and actions they are taking to build healthy and vibrant communities. Attendees will engage in break-out discussions about what environmental justice means and share stories from their communities. We will also look at PSCAA's environmental justice mapping tool as a way to identify EJ communities and prioritize government resources.
The third part will explore a variety of community engagement activities that can help create awareness, access, empowerment, action, and improvement in EJ communities. Examples will include: community science approaches to air quality, teaching youth how to protect themselves from poor air quality, and the use of micro-mobility as a clean air option to transportation. Session leaders will convey how these activities are tools that can help students and community members connect the dots between climate change, air quality, and environmental justice — while also encouraging community members to be change agents for a more equitable and healthy future. Session attendees will participate in break-out groups to discuss and work through possible engagement activities in their respective communities.
Audre Lorde describes the “joy in living” as “one of our most potent weapons”— referencing the integral role that joy and imagination play in the movement for peace, justice, and liberation.
As explored in Echoing Green’s short documentary Unwavering: The Power of Black Innovation, for Black and Brown leaders, working to disrupt systems of power is both revolutionary and joyous. For Black and Brown leaders, joy is our antidote — an act of resistance and revolution.
Featuring social innovators driving transformational movements for change, this session will feature an exclusive screening of Unwavering: The Power of Black Innovation, a short documentary by Fearless Studios and Echoing Green, followed by a panel conversation that will explore the importance of Black and Brown leaders finding joy while working to disrupt systems of power. This session will offer participants tangible steps on how to incorporate and cultivate joy in their leadership and movement-building.