After raising the question of how to achieve social equity and inclusiveness in urban planning, within our previous post, Global Site Plans’ The Grid and the Center for Social Inclusion turned to Twitter and #thegrid for a thought-provoking conversation on the topic. From this fast-paced one hour chat, four emerging trends appeared:
1. Access to critical services
When asked “what does equity mean to you?” participants of the chat clearly believed that it meant “access to critical services for all,” as Joe Peach (@thisbigcity) said. Meg Mulhall (@megmulhall) seconded that opinion by noting that “Equity means having access to resources, be it land, capital, education.” Anthony Giancatarino (@agiancatarino11) elaborated by mentioning that “transit is key, so is #localfood investment. Blacks live 4 Xs further from healthy food than Whites.” The Center for Social Inclusion (@theCSI) supported that transportation-related comment with “not to say we don’t fund roads/highways, but 80% of $ goes to it. Public transit benefits everyone, including white folks.”
2. Access to information
Access to information, especially in a technological age, is creating a great disparity among the classes; great inequity. When approached with the question of “how can all communities get the technological access they need to participate in our 21st century economy and planning?” some of the responses included “ we need to invest in broadband infrastructure. #FarmBill could provide $$ to develop out technology. We need to invest in comm,” from Anthony Giancatarino (@agiancatarino11) and Meg Mulhall (@megmulhall) commented on the effectiveness of “community workshops on #media of all kinds. Partnerships with schools. Grantee of Obama’s #broadband initiatives.” And for those who don’t have technological access, Doug Poole (@Poolede) suggested the “need to find new ways to communicate – local ‘information kiosks.’”
3. Developing diverse communities
When discussing what role cities play in relation to equity and cities striving to achieve equity, participants viewed these from two perspectives; diversity and opportunity. Alkisti Victoratou (@aevictoratou) viewed it in terms of diversity and, “the opportunity to meet and relate to people that are different from you in common spaces.” Robert Poole (@bobbyp89) stated that he thought “new urbanism promoted mix-used development and transit will slowly lead to equitable communities.” He also stated that cities “bring people together to create activity, share ideas, reduce travel and allow for growth.”
4. Providing economic opportunity
Others viewed the cities’ role in economic development and opportunities more important, like Meg Mulhall (@megmulhall), who mentioned that “access to land seems to be key. #Detroit, among other cities, has a long history of racial discrimination in land holding.” Similarly, the Center for Social Inclusion (@theCSI) mentioned that “communities are creating econ. opp. by banding together for energy coops, that create jobs and sustainability, like in Boston.” And “also, Seattle has created a racial equity initiative to end race-based disparities.”
These four themes just scratch the surface of what we talked about, so if you’re after a fuller view of the discussion you can check out the entire chat transcript at our Hashtracking report or on Twitter. And if you missed out this time don’t fear – the next #thegrid Twitter Chat happens on Wednesday, July 10, 2013 at 3PM EDT/ 2PM CDT/ 12PM PDT/ 8PM BST/ 10PM EEST. We’re looking forward to you joining the conversation!
Credits: Images and data linked to sources.