Redevelopment conference stresses community involvement, equity

Camden, New Jersey

DONNA LIU / CIVICSTORY – A performance by spoken word artist Sean Battle invoked “U-N-I-T-Y” as a theme of the 2019 Conference of New Jersey Future, even though the annual forum was officially entitled, “Redevelopment”. But in the eyes of the organizers, this was not a contradiction in terms. The NJ Future hosts stressed that the redevelopment of so much of New Jersey’s “left over” construction should depend on reaching broad consensus of the people who live nearby. In other words: “unity”.

It was a theme echoed by the very eloquent keynote speaker Angela Glover Blackwell, founder of the nonprofit PolicyLink Institute, who advocates for equity and inclusion in American cities. “When you solve the problems of the most vulnerable,” Blackwell says, “the benefits cascade out to everybody.” She calls this the “curb-cut effect”, a reference to the 1970s campaign to smooth out the border between curbs and streets for the sake of wheelchair users – a feature that is now almost universal, and enjoyed by bike riders, stroller-pushers, and the average pedestrian. “Equitable development would integrate people in place …

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