Lisa K. Bates, PhD to discuss Portland’s implementation of “we shall seek social justice,” April 13

Lisa K. Bates, Ph.D., Associate Professor at Portland State University in the Toulan School of Urban Studies and Planning, will present the Bloustein School’s 2021 Stuart Meck Memorial Lecture. The topic is ‘”We shall seek social justice”*: Moving from aspiration to implementation in Portland’s urban planning.’ It will be held on Tuesday, April 13 beginning at 5:00 p.m.

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. This talk will reflect on the challenges of implementing the planners’ aspiration that “we shall seek social justice”* and the possibilities when communities of color take the lead.

Also a Portland Professor in Innovative Housing Policy, Dr. Bates is also affiliated with PSU’s Black Studies department. Her scholarship focuses on housing and community development policy and planning, and her research and practice aims to build new models for emancipatory planning practices and to dismantle institutional racism. Recognition of her work includes the 2019 UAA-SAGE Marilyn J. Gittell Activist Scholar Award and the 2016 Dale Prize for scholarship advancing community self-determination and racial justice.

Dr. Bates’ work includes deep engagements with community-based organizations working towards racial justice and housing rights and supporting Portland’s anti-displacement coalition. She also has an advisory partnership with local government partners including research, planning, and policy formulation and evaluation. Her work to describe gentrification and displacement in Portland has been widely cited and used as a model for planning to address neighborhood change. She is currently collaborating with Dr. Amie Thurber to evaluate Portland’s ground-breaking policy to support housing opportunities for families displaced over multiple generations of urban renewal.  

* “We shall seek social justice” is one of the aspirational principles of the American Institute of Certified Planners.