Equity Forum Recap: Protecting and preserving culture during change

Our Equity Forum: Upending Cultural Displacement featured key thought leaders and practitioners who discussed the complex relationship between smart growth and cultural displacement, as well as shared innovative strategies for preserving and protecting neighborhood culture during change.

Communities across the country are experiencing significant changes driven by reinvestment, disinvestment, rising housing costs, and the changing climate, all of which have a significant impact on community culture, cohesion, and belonging. Cultural displacement occurs when new residents’ tastes, norms, and desires change and replace those of incumbent residents, resulting in residents being pushed out or barred from moving in, and the loss of historic and cultural pillars of the community (National Community Reinvestment Coalition). Displacement can also take various forms; it can have a physical and/or economic impact on communities, and it can affect various groups of people, including race, gender, religion, and behavioral interests (Urban Displacement Project).

Smart Growth America’s Equity Forum: Upending Cultural Displacement was a thought-provoking continuation of our year-round equity programming—anchored by the Equity Summit, which focuses on advancing racial equity through smart growth. The event was full of valuable insight and guidance from visionary leaders on the deep relationship between cultural displacement and Smart Growth, as well as effective strategies for preserving and protecting neighborhood culture during investment and neighborhood change.

Read our discussion guide to learn more about the event’s key takeaways and how you can continue the conversation about cultural displacement and preservation in your community.

Read the Discussion Guide

The Forum began with an inspiring keynote address from Dr. Maria Rosario Jackson, Chair of the National Endowment for the Arts, who shared key insights on the critical connection of art, culture, and design to community health, wealth, and well-being. She emphasized the inherent role of artists and designers in the construction and preservation of culturally rich, equitable, and thriving communities.

“Artists, culture bearers, and designers are necessary for our communities. They help us make sense of the world and offer different ways of thinking, feeling, and being. They’re a source of inspiration and innovation and are critically important to our well-being, our ability to recover, and protecting our humanity and community culture.” – Dr. Maria Rosario Jackson, Chair, National Endowment for the Arts

The keynote was followed by a panel discussion moderated by Kristen Jeffers, Founder, and Editor-in-Chief of The Black Urbanist, with Jupiter Peraza, Director of Social Justice & Empowerment Initiatives at The Transgender District, and Benny Starr, Hip-hop artist and Artist-in-Residence with the US Water Alliance, who discussed their work advocating for community preservation and sharing unique examples of ways to mitigate displacement and cultivate culture.

The event also featured first-of-its-kind live technical assistance workshops with the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and the Community of Royal, Florida, who were selected to receive expert advice from our panelists and selected SGA staff members. The participants shared their community’s challenges and asked our staff and panelists for advice on their specific projects. Read more about the Technical Assistance Workshops here. 

Read the Discussion Guide

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