Engage Local. Putting Community at the Center of Public Engagement

Equitable community engagement recognizes local residents and community-based organizations as assets that can be resourced to play an active partnership role in designing solutions for their communities. Public agencies are advancing this work through adopting equitable engagement principles, creating Equitable Engagement Blueprint documents, and even more importantly committing public funds and redesigning how engagement contracts are being written, how staff are being trained, and how local organizations are being compensated for their time and partnership. MZ Strategies showcases some of these efforts in a new white paper released by SPARCC.

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It’s Time: Endorsing a Bold New Regional Housing Idea for the San Francisco Bay Area

Cross-positing a blog written for the Strong Prosperous and Resilient Communities Initiative spotlighting work happening in California to address a growing affordable housing crisis at the regional level. The CASA Compact includes a comprehensive set of recommendations targeting production, preservation, tenant protections and institutional challenges to meeting the state’s housing needs. Lessons here for other regions as well, both in the value of regional approaches to housing but also the perils of only focusing on job growth and not also ensuring enough housing for workers.

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

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.

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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!

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SPARCCing New Strategies to Ensure Equitable Transit-Oriented Communities

MZ Strategies, LLC developed two new publications on Equitable Transit Oriented Development (ETOD) for the Strong Prosperous and Resilient Communities Challenge (SPARCC). ETOD emphasizes transit’s role in serving mixed-income communities and prioritizes the needs of those who rely on transit. This includes broadening the definition of TOD to include issues of racial equity, community health, access to economic opportunity, and environmental goals. The six SPARCC-supported communities, reflect this shift in many ways and are at the forefront of ETOD strategies. Blog cross-posted from SPARCC. 

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Spring Remembrances and Upcoming Presentations by MZ Strategies, LLC

We see daily the highs and lows that our nation continues to experience in advancing equity, affordable housing, and inclusive communities. Despite the unexpected flurries, devastating storms, and unpredictable temperatures we face today in our work of creating strong, prosperous and resilient communities, there remains truth in Reverend Dr. King’s famous quote, "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice."

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Infrastructure and Housing: Local Dreams and Federal Illusions

In our excitement over what may possibly happen with a new infrastructure proposal, let’s not lose sight of what is happening right now in the world of housing infrastructure. Actions by this administration to cut funding for affordable housing, suspend Fair Housing requirements, and reduce the impact of public sector investment in housing needs to be part of our forthcoming infrastructure debate.

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Lighting a SPARCC to fight Displacement

Sharing musings on a new initiative MZ Strategies, LLC is proud to be a part of working with an amazing group of partners to launch the Strong Prosperous and Resilient Communities Challenge (SPARCC). SPARCC is designed to support local cross-sector collaboratives working in six regions to develop policies and projects that advance racial equity, climate and public health goals. These six regions – Memphis, Atlanta, Denver, Los Angeles, Chicago, and the San Francisco Bay Area – each have created their own visions for how community-led investment can create stronger neighborhoods that intentionally work to stem displacement and create shared prosperity for existing and future residents and entrepreneurs. Additional thoughts on gentrification, including reading recommendations.

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