Actualizing Equity Event Series
Thanks to decades of tireless work from community leaders, equity has become a familiar term across sectors. In recent years, many public and private institutions have actively acknowledged and taken steps to integrate equity into their work — but our communities know that even the most well-intentioned programs or practices will not bring the transformative changes we need if they continue to be embedded within deeply inequitable systems. In 2020, our Actualizing Equity event series will clarify those disconnects, and amplify our visions to advance true, transformative equity in growth and development in the Twin Cities region.
Join us 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the fourth Friday of the month for these critical and inspiring conversations!
Dates and topics listed below.
From Representation to Co-governance: Advancing Equity in Policymaking
Friday, February 28, 2020 | 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. | Rondo Community Library (461 Dale Street North, St Paul)
In recent election cycles in the Twin Cities, we’ve seen local organizing efforts and groundbreaking campaigns that have elevated leaders of color to local, county and state policy-making positions. But equity doesn’t end with representation. How are organizers and electeds working to advance participatory processes and co-governance that truly shift power and advance policies that bring meaningful change for our communities? Join us for this panel discussion!
From Reduced Schedules to “Essential” Service: Advancing Transit Equity
Friday, April 24, 2020 | 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. | Virtual event
The COVID-19 pandemic has magnified and widened the deep and dangerous inequities in the systems that shape our everyday lives. While this moment has brought into the spotlight the vital role of “essential” workers — who are disproportionately low-wealth, immigrant and communities of color — it has also revealed the racialized gaps in the essential services those workers need to safeguard their health and meet their daily needs. In public transit, that dangerous disconnect has been clear, with deep cuts in service that support essential mobility for so many across the region and an alarming uptick in toxic narratives about the people who ride and the safety of public transit itself. How do we proactively combat the current and coming attacks on our already dramatically under-funded system while also boldly asserting the sweeping changes necessary to prioritize the needs of essential workers and communities of color not just now, but far beyond this current crisis.
The COVID-19 pandemic has elevated the undeniable connection between housing justice and community health. Building on the strong base of organizing in the Twin Cities, the current crisis has mobilized more renters and allies to demand that both short term relief and longer-term policy change center the needs and leadership of tenants and communities of color. How can we leverage this moment to build solidarity and move agendas that reject the notion that we can reform a fundamentally inequitable system that commodifies housing and instead re-imagine a policy ecosystem that is deeply rooted in tenant and community power and ownership? Join us for a conversation with organizers on the front lines of housing justice in the Twin Cities.
From Relief to Reconstruction: Advancing Equity in Small Business & Economic Development
The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the uprising around the murder of George Floyd devastated many Black, brown, indigenous and immigrant-owned businesses in the Twin Cities. We know that these businesses play an essential role in building and sustaining the culture, wealth and economic vitality of BIPOC and immigrant communities, and funding from government, philanthropic and private sources are investing in our local “recovery” and “rebuilding.” In our June 2020 Actualizing Equity event, we explored: How do we ensure that short-term relief centers the needs of BIPOC- and immigrant-owned businesses and that new processes and policies around economic development advance the ownership and agency of our communities?
The immediate, strategic and radically impactful response from Black leaders and organizers to the murder of George Floyd has had a seismic impact across social movements. Shaking the foundations of organizations and coalitions that have long espoused a commitment to racial equity, recent events have catalyzed a new clarity that deep structural changes are necessary — not simply to actualize equity but to actually win. Like efforts around police accountability and abolition, Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) communities have been on the frontlines of environmental movements for generations, but their strategies and solutions have been invisibilized, minimized and tokenized in the historically white-dominant organizations and campaigns that have monopolized financial resources, political agendas and public awareness.
Last year, a group of leaders from the Minnesota’s Climate Equity Table came together for a BIPOC-led strategic planning process centered on “Whose voices, experiences and expertise are being centered in the current environmental landscape? And what are we willing to do about it?”
Join us for a conversation with local leaders who were part of that planning process and other environmental advocates, as we examine how environmental and climate justice narratives and agendas need to not just be influenced but truly led by BIPOC organizers who hold the insight and solutions that can bring real change.
Recap resource coming soon!
The 2019 Actualizing Equity series lifted up how communities and organizers are breaking out of issue silos and co-creating solutions that advance shared objectives and equitable outcomes. In collaboration with Alliance member organizations and other equity stakeholders, we shifted our focus from concepts to solutions, digging into how we can advance the strategies in Our AREA: The Alliance Regional Equity Agenda to create real change in our communities.
Igniting Renter Power for Environmental Justice (Feb 2019)
At the Alliance’s first Actualizing Equity 2019 event, Community Stabilization Project and Fresh Energy shared how their respective organizations are working together to bridge the gaps between tenants, landlords and clean energy policy advocates to advance housing affordability and climate justice through the St. Paul Tenant-Landlord Energy Project. Download the recap resource.
Leading with Equity — New Electeds of Color (March 2019)
People of color, indigenous, immigrant, and low-income communities have always been at the forefront of social change. But systems and institutions intentionally built on a foundation of racism, bias and injustice — designed to benefit white people at the expense of people of color — have excluded our voices and leadership at all levels of government. In recent election cycles in the Twin Cities, we’ve seen local organizing efforts and groundbreaking campaigns that have elevated leaders of color to local, county and regional policy making positions. At our March 2019 Actualizing Equity event, newly elected Richfield Mayor Maria Regan Gonzalez, Brooklyn Park City Councilmember Wynfred Russell and Hennepin County Commissioner Angela Conley joined us to discuss their impetus for running and approaches to policymaking. Download the recap resource.
Why Density Isn’t Enough (April 2019)
In neighborhood debates about new housing development, the simplified battle of the yard signs and bumper stickers boils down to NIMBYs and YIMBYs — Not In My Backyard and Yes In My Backyard. At that surface level, the dividing line is often density, with NIMBYs opposing increased traffic and building heights while YIMBYs preach the benefits of more concentrated housing supply. But that conversation often overlooks the deeper issues related to the role of the private market and the public good. At our April 2019 Actualizing Equity event, we explored the relationship of density to affordability and points of leverage to advance equity over purely private market solutions in housing development and land use decisions in our region. Download the recap resource.
Holding the Line: Equity in Transit Oriented Development (May 2018)
At our May 2019 Actualizing Equity event, we explored how organizers have mobilized — and are mobilizing — to integrate affordable housing, health, economic development and other equity issues into the visions and implementation of coming transit investments. We heard from Denise Butler, Program Manager for African Career, Education and Resource Inc; Nestor Garcia, Community Outreach Director for the Harrison Neighborhood Association; and Kenya McKnight, Founder and President of the Black Women’s Wealth Initiative — with facilitation from Avi Viswanathan, Program Director for the Nexus Community Engagement Institute at Nexus Community Partners. Download the recap resource.
Home Field Advantage: Securing Strong Community Benefits (June 2019)
From community benefits to co-creation, local organizing is beginning to shift the calculations around large-scale developments, pressing government officials and private developers to consider and address the potential impacts of their investments on local residents and businesses. In St. Paul, the construction of Allianz Field has raised concerns about the impact of the soccer stadium on affordable housing, small businesses and the communities of color that have long called the area home. At our June 2019 Actualizing Equity event, Tia Williams and Caty Royce, Co-Directors of Frogtown Neighborhood Association; Mitra Jalali Nelson, St Paul City Councilmember for Ward 4; MaiChong Xiong, Legislative Aide to Ward 1 Councilmember Dai Thao and engaged community members discussed challenges and opportunities to create and implement effective community benefit agreements for large-scale developments. Download the recap resource.
Sustaining Equity: Going Green Without Gentrification (July 2019)
Parks, green infrastructure and sustainable development bring a range of social, cultural, health and environmental benefits. But too often the public, private and non-profit sectors do not appropriately address the ‘unintended consequences’ of these improvements. How do we ensure that communities most impacted by environmental harms historically reap the benefits of new and ongoing investments? Where do we have leverage to engage community and embed their priorities in conversations about green development, and where are leaders in different types of organizations seeing success? At our July 2019 Actualizing Equity event, we discussed these issues with Sam Grant from the Public Policy Project / Environmental Justice Coordinating Council; Shruthi Kamisetty from Parks & Power; Seema Kairam from the Trust for Public Land; Mira Kleinfrom the CREATE Initiative; and Stephen Klimek from the Towerside Innovation District. Download the recap resource
Creating our Vision for Equitable Housing (Sept 2019)
Renters now make up the majority of residents in Minneapolis, St. Paul and many other communities across the Twin Cities metro — and tenant organizing is building momentum to reframe how we approach housing justice. For years, “affordable housing” has been at the forefront of many advocacy efforts, with a focus on ensuring the cost of rent is within reach for historically marginalized, low-wealth households. But we know real housing equity goes far beyond affordability, encompassing tenant screening, unit size, cultural practices and so much more. Our September 2019 Actualizing Equity event included a panel discussion and collaborative visioning session to continue the leadership of Community Stabilization Project and set a new trajectory for equitable, not just affordable, housing. Download the recap resource
A Seat at Whose Table? Actualizing Equity in Advisory Committees (Oct 2019)
Centering the expertise and lived experiences of those most impacted is fundamental to actualizing equity around any issue. Thanks to generations of tenacious leaders, institutions and government bodies are increasingly integrating community members in more advisory committees around policy and decision-making. Still situated in structures built by and for white supremacy, how can community leverage these openings to build power and reorient priorities, rather than extract uncompensated intellectual and emotional labor in service of incremental change? At our October 2019 Actualizing Equity event, Chai Lee, Metropolitan Council Member and Program Manager for the Boards and Commissions Leadership Institute at Nexus Community Partners; Ashwat Narayanan, Executive Director at Our Streets Minneapolis; and Tia Williams, Co-director at the Frogtown Neighborhood Association shared their experiences and strategies to participate in and change these processes to instigate real and lasting value for our communities. Download the recap resource
The 2018 Actualizing Equity Series dove into each section of Our AREA: The Alliance Regional Equity Agenda. Each session included a panel of local leaders who explored the ways each issue area intersects with the complex identities and historical struggles of our communities and breakout discussions for participants to share their ideas and insights. From these conversations, we created the resources below!
Navigating the Intersections: How We Experience Mobility (May 2018)
Communities encounter different risks and have different needs as they move through the metro region. At this event, we heard from local leaders who experience transportation in a variety of ways and participate in breakout discussions to share your own stories and strategies for getting around our region while facing racism, classism, ableism, sexism, ICE, xenophobia, homophobia, and other forces of oppression. Navigating the Intersections Resources
Housing Is A Human Right (June 2018)
Where we live impacts every aspect of our lives – it affects how we thrive in our community and provides the foundation for our health, education, safety, and economic wellbeing. At this event, we explored how that right is denied and disregarded in the face of gendered violence, racism, the (in)justice system, anti-immigrant discrimination, and other forms of oppression. Housing Is A Human Right Resources
Who Speaks for the Neighborhood? (July 2018)
True community engagement requires organizations to dedicate time, energy, and resources to building meaningful and mutually beneficial relationships. At this event, we discussed how folks are challenging systems that reinforce the status quo and creating accessible spaces, projects, and processes that allow community members to feel welcomed as their full selves. Who Speaks for the Neighborhood Resources
The Geography of Wellness (Aug 2018)
Wellness is not evenly distributed. Invisiblized policies and practices determine which neighborhoods are home to pollution and which are environmentally and economically healthy. At this event, we discussed these historical harms and share our vision of equitable land use policies that enrich neighborhoods, connecting residents to a broad set of choices. Geography of Wellness Resources
Building Wealth, Building Power (Sept 2018)
For a prosperous and sustainable Twin Cities, decision makers must prioritize investment in under-resourced geographies and low-wealth communities. At this event, we discussed how we can lift up equitable economic development practices that build on existing assets and allow people of color, indigenous people, immigrants, and low-income communities to build and sustain wealth in their neighborhoods creating healthy, thriving communities. Building Wealth, Building Power Resources
Race, Class, and the Outdoors (Oct 2018)
Due to under-resourced infrastructure and limited choices in where to live, work, and play, people of color, indigenous people, immigrants, and low-income communities are disproportionately barred from accessing natural amenities. At this event, we discussed how folks are reimagining our relationships with our environment, and organizing to improve parks in communities of color without gentrifying them. Race, Class, and the Outdoors Resources