Recent Entries to the Policies and Politics Blog
This summer I found myself on a professional journey of self-discovery as I realized the limits of my knowledge when it comes to how race and infrastructure are intricately linked. Equitable Transit-Oriented Development (eTOD) is being led in many regions by multi-sector coalitions to ensure that TOD projects and the planning process itself create communities of opportunity where residents of all incomes, races and ethnicities participate in and benefit from living in connected, healthy, vibrant places connected by transit. Efforts in Phoenix and Richmond underscore the need & opportunity for eTOD to address generations of racial injustice from past transportation and urban planning decisions.
Regional planning - at the federal level and in many areas of the country - is celebrating 50 years of practice. Yet the role of implementation is something that few regional agencies have the authority to do. By its very nature, regionalism is the art of collaboration. Somewhat surprisingly, federal transportation provisions are often the catalyst for integrated and collaborative planning efforts.
Addressing social inequalities is a thread through the consulting that MZ Strategies engages in with public agencies, non-profits and philanthropic organizations. Yet recent experiences with environmental justice in South Phoenix and educational disparities in Richmond, VA remind me how very far we have to come in restoring equitable outcomes, especially in the face of multi-generational poverty and structural racism.
A recent study published by the Mid-Atlantic Universities Transportation Center (co-authored by Ralph Buehler, Kyle Lukacs and Mariia Zimmerman) compares two major transit regions in the US with several European counterparts. The authors found that money -- both the lack of it and the strings attached to it -- is a key reason as to why transit in the United States isn’t better.
America enjoys the world’s strongest economy, and our long-term national growth and prosperity depend on strong regional economies. These in turn, rely on tackling the societal challenges that can slow growth and result in disparities across income and racial groups. Just as each region’s challenges, assets, geography and culture are different, there is no one model of collaboration. Over the last year MZ Strategies worked with a number of regions on these issues, including in metro Washington where COG just released its 2016 State of the Region Report looking at Economic Competitiveness threats and opportunities.