The future of our communities depends upon our ability to provide equitable growth for all.
The Just Growth issue area has grown to a powerful community engagement platform for residents of all races, incomes, and backgrounds to influence decision-making within development projects that impact them (e.g. housing, greenspace, water, transportation).
Data shows that past disparities in the development of our built environment have resulted in "Two Atlantas" - one flourishing amidst a gold rush of opportunity, spurred by decades of quality of life investments; and one left behind through disinvestment, whose progress has been obstructed by policies of structural and institutional racism such as redlining and subprime lending. Our worlds are segregated by design, and we assert that change begins with learning about this past and current legacy.
We believe that business as usual in the development of our built environment will continue to calcify these divides, leaving more generations of communities of color and low wealth locked into a future of few opportunities, transplanted in new farther-flung locations as they are displaced by the engines of traditional growth roaring towards their communities.
In partnership with Archi and Neighborhood Nexus, PSE created the Metro Atlanta Racial Equity Atlas (MAREA). MAREA is an immersive, story-centric tool that contextualizes personal narratives with engagement, interactive community data, and historical background with an explicit focus on advancing racial equity. This platform will help users explore and understand the multifaceted landscape of today’s race- and ethnicity-based inequities, as well as pathways toward a future of equity. While we acknowledge that systematic discrimination has impacted many groups in America, the overwhelming amount of evidence shows that communities of color face the greatest obstacles today and continue to experience the lasting effects of discriminatory systems.
The Development Watch Academy is a leadership development course focused on preparing graduates to effectively monitor and influence development activities in their communities. Throughout the 3-month academy, participants learn about the history of commercial development and land use in Atlanta, tools to identify the signs of gentrification in neighborhoods, and steps to communicate with developers and policymakers, and hold them accountable in the communities they wish to build in.
In February 2019, the City of East Point Mayor and City Council adopted an East Point Equity Resolution. This resolution demonstrated a commitment to advancing community health and equitable development by embedding social justice and social equity throughout the City’s programs, policies, and practices. They understood that growth must be designed to intentionally promote inclusion rather than exacerbate and perpetuate patterns of exclusion and inequity that disproportionately impact lower-income communities of color. Subsequently, the City of East Point contracted with the Partnership for Southern Equity (PSE) to engage in a 14-month, stakeholder-driven process to develop an Equitable Growth and Inclusion Strategic Plan (EGISP). In early 2020, this process commenced.
The Just Growth team hosts a variety of leadership development programs aimed at equipping community leaders with the confidence and resources to combat racial gentrification. An overview of these programs can be found below
The Resident Leaders for Equity program is an (8) eight month leadership development program was created to strengthen community knowledge of racial equity skills and strategies, and create positive neighborhood change with support from the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, The United Way of Greater Atlanta, and the Partnership for Southern Equity. This program supports the growth of a diverse group of neighborhood leaders who will advocate for and help manage these processes and, in particular, the racial impacts of gentrification.
The Youth Leaders for Equity program is a (5) five-month after school program that provides knowledge, a deeper understanding of leadership skills in the areas of community engagement, youth in civic engagement, community organizing, and conflict resolution. The program engages young adults in a fun way to help support the growth of a diverse group of youth leaders who will advocate for and transform their communities.
In January 2022, PSE acquired EcoDistricts, a highly regarded international nonprofit organization that promotes sustainable and equitable development, to expand PSE’s investment to promote “Just Growth” throughout the American South and beyond.
EcoDistricts works collaboratively to co-design a Just Growth agenda that integrates our programming and community of practice into a singular effort to disrupt and inspire new models of restorative and just development practices. The goal is to positively impact the growth of our cities and communities by tapping into the wisdom, perspective, and programming that PSE and EcoDistricts built over the past decade, including the 850 EcoDistricts Accredited Professionals from around the world.
Just Growth, in collaboration with Climate Interactive, hosts the Just Growth Circle (JGC), a network of diverse businesses, politicians, non-profits, academics, and community members committed to furthering equitable development in the South. The JGC is a community of learning, practice, and innovation open to all. We come together with our members on the second Friday of every other month to support each other in building our connections, capacity, and courage to realize the transition towards equitable development in the Atlanta region. The Just Growth Circle upholds the belief that the future of our communities depends upon our ability to provide equitable growth for all.