MZ Strategies, LLC provides strategic assistance on infrastructure, housing and development matters to policy makers, planners, and community leaders working to create thriving, inclusive communities.
— Mariia Zimmerman

Recent Entries to the Policies and Politics Blog

Policies and Politics Blog

Climate resiliency planning is becoming more important and common in American communities of all sizes. The focus when talking about infrastructure is often on the project or system, but resiliency requires a more expansive and interconnected view. This includes maximizing linkages across systems, deeper engagement with the community who is both affected by disruptions and is a funding partner, and expanding our notion of revenues and return on investment. Climate may play a role in accelerating gentrification, but a High Road Infrastructure Approach provides a pathway for greater resiliency.

Tranist Oriented Development is a field within urban planning that promotes mixed-use development near transit as a way to revitalize communities and improve the efficiency of our transportation system. It often involves strategies to create more housing, improve walkability and create more places for shopping, gathering, working and enjoying urban life. Last month I wrote about my own personal journey in understanding how cultural racism had influenced my work over the last twenty years on equitable Transit Oriented Development (eTOD).  This month I delve into some ways that racism is baked into our systems, structures and institutions making it an incredible (but not insurmountable) challenge to correct if we are to truly realize EQUITABLE TOD that works for people of all races and income levels.

Coming to Racial Terms with Trickle-Down Urbanism  - A personal TOD journey (Part I)

Many people chose planning, or are called to it, by their strong desire to create thriving, inclusive, and environmentally-kind communities. Yet in this work, we must come to terms with a complicated racial history that continues to impact the work we do today. Changing society’s laws, institutions and culture to be more racially just takes time and feels overwhelming. It’s easy to be cynical. Yet, the truth is that change must first begin with ourselves. In this, and my next blog post, I share my own journey of racial self-responsibility and reflect on some ways cultural racism is embedded within transportation planning and how my cultural bias reinforced this subconsciously. By recognizing these barriers, we can work together as allies to heal, reconcile, and create more livable communities. (Artwork by Jose Ramirez “City of Angels” 2011)

Reflecting Back on an Impactful 2018

Another year ends, and it is with deep gratitude that I look back over 2018 to reflect on all the amazing accomplishments achieved by the array of incredible local and national community leaders, thought partners, and funders that I have had the privilege to work with to make America’s communities thrive. As someone who cut her teeth working at the federal level, it has been beyond depressing to see the vitriol, decay and lack of leadership by Congress and this administration. Yet against this backdrop, innovation and a commitment to greater racial and economic equity is exploding at the local level. Read the MZ Strategies post to see some of the highlights!

This fall Mariia Zimmerman, Principal of MZ Strategies, LLC will be speaking across the country at several events to share emerging practices and new policies centered around elevating community voice, ownership, and education to ensure that long-time residents and small business owners can remain in communities as they attract new and much-needed investment.