2021: 4/13 “We shall seek social justice”: Moving from aspiration to implementation in Portland’s urban planning

April 14, 2021

4/13 “We shall seek social justice”: Moving from aspiration to implementation in Portland’s urban planning

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If you ask most urban planners, they’ll tell you that Portland, Oregon is about regionalism, transit-oriented development, sustainability, and hipsters ‘putting a bird on it.’  For Portland’s Black community, urban planning has been an often-mysterious process by which their neighborhoods have been repeatedly disrupted by first urban renewal and redlining, and then public investment-led gentrification. In the face of impending erasure, communities of color demanded that Portland’s plans and policies do more than just gesture towards equity goals. Due to this organizing, Portland’s latest comprehensive plan includes an anti-displacement agenda for new land-use policy. Planners are grappling with historical legacies of racism and present-day policy implementation, working with community organizations in venues of both conflict and collaboration. In this lecture, Lisa K. Bates, PhD, Associate Professor, Toulan School of Urban Studies and Planning, Portland State University reflected on the challenges of implementing the planners’ aspiration that “we shall seek social justice” and the possibilities when communities of color take the lead.

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