Continue the conversation with our new Equity Summit discussion guides

Earlier in 2021, we hosted the first-ever Smart Growth America Equity Summit. The new discussion guides, based on the summit’s content, can help you produce tangible smart growth changes in your community.

Back in January, SGA held a three day virtual summit to discuss how to center improving racial equity in smart growth work. The summit featured short keynotes explaining important basic concepts, and three separate deep dives on promoting more equity in housing and land use, why strong Black and Brown businesses are key to neighborhood vitality, and how to right the wrongs of past damaging transportation decisions and promote restorative justice. 

We wanted to provide a way for smart growth advocates—whether you participated in the Summit or not—to take the Summit’s compelling content and turn it into action and tangible change in your community. So we produced this new set of discussion guides to help you walk through the Summit’s content and consider the implications in your community.

Explore the discussion guides

More than 3,000 people registered for the Summit, and considering that the overwhelming poll responses from respondents showed that the majority are relatively inexperienced with these issues, we tried to calibrate these guides to be approachable. If your office, community, or friends have never walked through a discussion about equity, we hope this will provide a good starting point. If you are more experienced, we hope these guides will deepen your understanding.

Think of it like a book discussion group. Grab a small group of colleagues, friends, or other people in your community, listen to the Summit’s content, read the summaries of each session, and then think about the discussion questions together as a group—perhaps over a few weeks. For those of you that are ready to take the next step, you can put together a plan of action.

How to use the discussion guides:

  • Start with Equity 101. This primer guide is a great place to get introduced to some of the foundational concepts for the summit. Start there, but before you do, watch Calvin Gladney’s brief opening remarks (~11:00 mark on day one) and Dr. Andre Perry’s opening keynote (~20:00 mark on day one) before diving into this guide. ƒ 
  • There is one guide for each of the three main panels. Each guide relates to one of the three main panels. We recommend watching each panel, hopefully together with your group, and perhaps while you have the discussion guide open in front of you. Tip: Write down questions you’d have for panelists as you go and ask them of each other.
  • Review the summary points for each panel. Each guide provides a few key summary points from each panel, synthesizing the hour-plus of great information into a few, key, digestible points. 
  • Dive into the discussion questions for each panel. On the second page, you’ll find some discussion questions you can consider thoughtfully. Take your time here! ƒ 
  • Put the material into action. There are also a few example action steps for policymakers, planners, advocates, and others to put the lessons into practice. ƒ 
  • Continue your education. Lastly, there are a few other books and SGA resources mentioned by the panelists for further reading in each guide. These resources are just the tip of the iceberg.

Who attended the Summit?

This was no bi-coastal-only affair—you showed up from all over the country! For about a third of you, this was your first introduction to Smart Growth America. 


What’s next?

During the Summit, we were all challenged in different ways to make improving racial disparities more central to our work. Smart Growth America’s staff was no exception. Read these short reflections by SGA staff. What did you learn? What are you still thinking about four months later? We’d love to hear from more of you and share those reflections in a post like the one above. Share your reflections here.

We hope to be able to do another Summit, and according to our survey, it sounds like we should hope to see most of you again for round two, should that come together. To make sure you are the first to hear about it—and other smart growth news—sign up for our monthly newsletter