Conference Reports and Recordings

Working Together: Collaborative Strategies Supporting Economic Prosperity for Low- and Moderate-Income Communities

BCLI Issues and Advocates Speaker Series
Working Together: Collaborative Strategies Supporting Economic Prosperity for Low- and Moderate-Income Communities in the Bay Area
October 17, 2012

In 2010, the BCLI hosted one of our most popular Wednesday panels on innovative strategies for job creation, where we heard about new and exciting models that were building wealth and supporting economic development in low-income communities. Two years later, the Bay Area continues to see a lack of job growth and economic opportunity, coupled with dwindling public funds to support workforce and economic development.

In light of the dismal economic climate and limited resources, a collaborative made up of public, private, labor, and non-profit organizations is working to draft a “Regional Prosperity Strategy” for the Bay Area to understand, strengthen, and expand economic opportunities for low- and moderate-income individuals. The goal of the collaborative is to support a sustainable regional economy with good jobs that are accessible for all people, pay a living wage with benefits, provide workers with a voice on the job, and allow workers to advance up a career ladder.

Protecting Communities, Securing Benefits: Lessons Learned in Silicon Valley

BCLI Issues and Advocates Speaker Series
Protecting Communities, Securing Benefits:
Lessons Learned in Silicon Valley
September 19, 2012

Protecting Communities SpeakersDuring the current economic crisis, cities everywhere are courting development to create jobs for their residents and to support struggling local economies. But at what cost is it acceptable to allow companies to move into our communities if they are not providing their fair share of local tax dollars, jobs to local residents, and affordable housing to their workers?

For the first panel of the Boards and Commissions Leadership Institute’s Issues and Advocates Speakers Series, we hear from experts about the impacts of Silicon Valley’s job growth on affordable housing, transit, and the environment, and consider what this growth means for low-income communities and communities of color. You learn how a coalition of local community-based and regional organizations and a non-profit civil rights law firm worked together to gain community benefits from a large corporation that was planning the development of their new headquarters.

Bertha Lewis Keynote Address SOR 2012

Berth Lewis Keynote from Urban Habitat on Vimeo.

On April 26, Urban Habitat hosted 120 Bay Area leaders for the annual State of the Region Conference at The California Endowment’s Oakland Conference Center. Social justice advocates came together to talk about equity, how to problem-solve, act, and organize.

Urban Habitat President and CEO Allen Fernandez Smith kicked off the event by celebrating the achievements of the more than 80 organizations in attendance, while outlining the important work being done in the region and all that still needs to be done moving forward.

Panel sessions explored the challenges in more depth, ranging across the board, from local and regional planning issues that affect low-income communities and people of color to the changing geography of race and class, the dissolution of redevelopment agencies, and regional agency reform. Workshops were offered to help social justice advocates build capacity to develop the tools they need to win regional campaigns, fund regional advocacy work, and build stronger inside-outside relationships with progressive decision-makers.

Keynote speakers Mitchell J. Silver, president of the American Planning Association, and Bertha Lewis, president and founder of The Black Institute, delivered exhilarating and passionate calls to action as they spoke about the changing demographic in the United States and how to ensure that low-income people and people of color have the infrastructure and policies in place to support their success.

To read and listen to an exclusive interview with Bertha Lewis or read the transcript of this speech please visit Radio RP&E: New Political Spaces.

Fresh Thinking about Community and Anchor Partnerships: Creating Shared Value for More Equitable Communities

BCLI Issues and Advocates Speaker Series
Fresh Thinking about Community and Anchor Partnerships:
Creating Shared Value for More Equitable Communities
October 19, 2011

Anchor Institution PanelistsWe've seen that anchor institutions, such as universities and hospitals, can have a significant impact on community economic development. But how can communities with fewer economic resources catalyze anchor relationships that will serve the particular needs of their community members? And how can leaders within anchor institutions move from a "social responsibility" framework to one that acknowledges the community's integral role in their long-term success?

In this panel, we offer some innovative case studies that allow us to stretch our thinking about the ways that anchor institutions are defined and how they support the communities in which they reside, in terms of both economic development and cultural stabilization, and we provide examples of the kinds of strategic partnerships that can emerge from engagement between anchors and communities when the focus is on the creation of shared value.

Read the speakers' bios and listen to the Anchor Partnerships panel podcast:

Closing the Opportunity Gap: Prioritizing Schools in Planning for Sustainable Communities

BCLI Issues and Advocates Speaker Series
Closing the Opportunity Gap: Prioritizing Schools in Planning for Sustainable Communities

September 21, 2011

Closing the Opportunity GapSupportive, inclusive educational institutions are essential for vibrant, equitable communities, and access to opportunity-rich education provides a means by which socially and economically marginalized community members can improve quality of life. As we plan for growth within the Bay Area region, we must prioritize high-quality schools as a key feature of sustainable communities.

In addition to classroom education, the level of student opportunity is informed by where and how students and their parents sleep and eat, how they travel to and from school, and the environment that surrounds and supports (or does not support) their general well-being. Equitable decision making on behalf of community education, therefore, includes paying careful attention to those elements outside of the school itself that can greatly impact students' abilities to succeed. Economically stable communities with opportunities for affordable family housing, healthy neighborhoods with clean air, dependable transportation for both students and working parents, and safe routes to school for students who walk or ride bikes are just a few of many factors that can support student success.

Focusing primarily on land use, housing, and transportation, our panelists identify key issues in equitable decision making in planning for opportunity-rich schools in the Bay Area in the face of anticipated high regional population growth. As a group, we share policies and strategies that decision makers and advocates can use to ensure that our growth strategies are sustainable, equitable, and address the needs of low-income families and communities of color.

Read the speakers' bios and hear the podcast of their presentation:

*Jeffrey Vincent, Deputy Director, Center for Cities & Schools
*Marisa Raya, Regional Planner, Association of Bay Area Governments
*Vu-Bang Nguyen, Land Use Coordinator, Urban Habitat

Assessing the Redistricting Process: What It Means for Our Communities, Sept. 23, 2011

Redistricting Panel - 09.23.2011
California voters, frustrated with Sacramento’s political gridlock, twice went to the polls to divest elected officials of their authority to draw the state’s political districts. Voters granted that power instead to the citizens of California through the establishment of the 14-member, multipartisan Citizens Redistricting Commission.Barely one week after the Commission adopted 177 newly created state legislative, congressional, and Board of Equalization districts, equity-minded individuals and organizations are wondering whether this more transparent, public process will result in better representation for low-income people and communities of color.

On September 23, 2011, a panel of redistricting experts to discuss the following questions:

  • Why and how was the Citizens Redistricting Commission created?
  • How has this redistricting process differed from other processes?
  • How well were low-income people and communities of color represented?
  • What impact will the new maps have on the voice and political power of low-income people and communities of color over the next decade?
  • Should all levels of government enact similar redistricting reforms? And if so, how can processes be structured to maximize the political power of low-income people and communities of color?

Read the speakers' bios and hear the podcast of their presentation:

*Marqueece Harris-Dawson, President and CEO, Community Coalition of South Los Angeles
*Connie Galambos Malloy, Sr. Dir. of Programs, Urban Habitat and Commissioner, California Citizens Redistricting Commission
*Michelle Romero, Redistricting Fellow, The Greenlining Institute
*Paul Mitchell, Political Consultant and Owner, Redistricting Partners


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