Tackling Equity: Crafting Communities of Opportunity

What You'll Learn

  • How to address pervasive inequalities in communities and to facilitate open, honest conversation.
  • How communities with significant economic challenges can achieve results through incremental change.
  • How to assess planning strategies used by different communities to counter seemingly overwhelming trends, such as population decline.

More Course Details

Two major 2018 reports — the Economic Innovation Group's Distressed Communities Index and the Brooking Institution Hamilton Project's Vitality Index — came to the same disheartening conclusion: Opportunities for poor people in the U.S. are shrinking, and there has been no progress in recent years in narrowing income inequality.

This course focuses on three planning processes that demonstrate how significant progress is possible by making equity (giving everyone what they need to be successful) a core focus:

Montgomery, Alabama: A central force in the Civil Rights Movement that has gone 55 years without a comprehensive plan, Montgomery is addressing distressed neighborhoods, limited opportunities, and general inertia.

Northwest Dayton, Ohio: A challenged neighborhood that is pushing against six decades of city population decline, disinvestment, and the recent loss of an anchor institution — a hospital with 1,600 employees.

Athens-Clark County, Georgia: An asset-rich community with a poverty rate of 36 percent and limited social mobility despite an economic engine (the University of Georgia) is proactively making strategies for change.

Each community demonstrates that planners must be unafraid to tackle challenges head-on, willing to communicate openly with the public about reality, and prepared to focus on steady, incremental progress over "silver bullet" solutions.