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“Think global, act local.” Interestingly, this phrase has ties to city planning and real estate that date back to the early 1900s. The phrase has been attributed to Scots town planner and social activist Patrick Geddes as part of his 1915 book “Cities in Evolution”.
That same philosophy applies to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) efforts in the land use planning and real estate communities.
During the month of June, the Summer Equity Challenge focused more globally on Raising Awareness – Understanding Race & Racism. The second portion of the June content narrowed down to racism in land use and real estate. These resources discussed how decades of prejudice and exclusionary government polices shaped the cities we live in today across the United States.
For this Challenge, we worked to take that understanding to the next level by making it more relevant to our regional communities. We wanted our Challenge to dig down into our own backyard and explore how racism in land use and real estate have impacted communities in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and northern Virginia. No matter where you live, work, or play in the greater Washington, DC region, you will find stories that feel close to home.
As of July 12th, we’re honored to introduce our July: Local Context – Learning the Racial History of the DMV theme.
As a 17-year resident of the Takoma, Washington, DC neighborhood, the story that hit closest to home was an article posted on Greater Greater Washington’s website. This blog post covered how segregation shaped DC’s northernmost ward. However, there are other similar stories captured throughout our July resources. For example, the documentary-style video “Belmont: The Lost Plan for a Black Chevy Chase” occurred just over the border in Montgomery County, Maryland. There are even walking tour brochures like the one for “Fort Ward Park: The Fort Heritage Trail” in Alexandria, Virginia.
One of the most powerful graphics in this month’s Challenge is a series of maps in the DC Policy Center’s article “How the region’s racial and ethnic demographics have changed since 1970”. The Center explains how racial identity has changed as it relates to where concentrations of individuals with different racial identities have lived. This research extends throughout the DMV over the last 50 years. It’s the other resources with our Challenge that help explain why those racial segregation patterns have happened. Our resources also provide us some insights as to how we might change those patterns in the future.
Ultimately, that relates to the overall goal of this 2021 Summer Equity Challenge. We aim to lay a foundation for future conversations and build bridges for how leaders and individuals can incorporate inclusive practices into their projects.