All-In Cities: If you want to go far, go together

Dear All-In Cities Community,

This week, PolicyLink was proud to serve as a co-host of this year's People & Places conference in Arlington, Virginia. PolicyLink staff participated in several panels and workshops on topics ranging from how community development leaders can utilize arts and culture strategies, ensuring Opportunity Zones guard against displacement, the future of banking for communities of color, innovative community engagement strategies, and lessons from the All-In Cities Anti-Displacement Policy Network (ADPN).

During the ADPN session I moderated, we began by asking the audience why they were interested in this session. Many folks wanted concrete policy tools to help them, but many expressed the impending displacement pressures that threaten their communities and the need to act swiftly. Everyone agreed that building authentic relationships with community must start early and be ongoing, before a specific development project is even announced. Further, community leaders should ensure that residents control the narrative of where they live, working with the press to highlight their stories and needs. India Walton, Executive Director of the Fruit Belt Community Land Trust, summarized these strategies by quoting an African proveb: "If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together."

Below are some updates from the past month, and work we are doing with our partners to go far, together.

Two Years of All-In Pittsburgh
This week, The All-In Pittsburgh Equitable Development Collaborative gathered together with more than 100 partners and community members at the Kelly Strayhorn Theater to celebrate and recommit to the work of building an equitable city. The program included remarks from Mayor William Peduto, hip hop artist Jasiri X of 1Hood Media, Maxwell King of the Pittsburgh Foundation, and Grant Oliphant of The Heinz Endowments, among others. During his remarks, Mayor Peduto explained that "It can't just be the people in this room, ministers and activists," said Peduto. "It has to be Pittsburgh's corporate leaders, it has to be organized labor, it has to be everyone saying these laws are unjust."

The event also recognized how far the collaborative has come since the creation of the Equitable Development: The Path to an All-In Pittsburgh report. Accomplishments include:

  • Successfully advocating in support of House Bill 163, which eliminated driver's license suspension for non-driving related convictions, a penalty that disproportionately targeted black motorists.
  • Helping to get $2.5 million restored to the budget of the Urban Redevelopment Authority.
  • Creating a formalized partnership with the Pittsburgh Black Elected Officials Coalition to co-develop legislation to embed equity within city government operations and decision-making.

We want to congratulate our partners on two years of work to build a coalition in service of equity, elevating the voices of leaders of color, and expertly using data to drive policy. You are setting the standard for the field!

Colorado takes an important step in the rent control movement
Earlier this month, a bill was introduced in the Colorado Senate to reverse a law banning local governments from implementing any rent control measures. Following the release of our rent control report with the Right to the City Alliance and the center for Popular Democracy Our Homes, Our Future, PolicyLink managing director Sarah Treuhaft spoke in support of the legislation during a press conference organized by UNE Action and 9to5, two community-based organizations working towards economic justice. In addition, Sarah's written testimony was read during the Senate committee discussion. After more than four hours of discussion and testimony, including city officials across the state in favor of the bill, the legislation was sent to the full Senate.

Accelerator for America and Opportunity Zones
Last month, PolicyLink staff attended the Opportunity Zone Investor Summit at Stanford University, hosted by Accelerator for America, which seeks to scale and replicate local solutions to economic insecurity across the country. The Summit showcased a number of innovative communities with Opportunity Zones, and worked to foster connections between cities, stakeholders, developers and investors to advance inclusive Opportunity Zone projects. While most speakers expressed excitement for the potential of Opportunity Zones, most participants acknowledged that the success of this tool will require that all stakeholders focus on the interests of the people whom this legislation was intended to serve – the residents of these communities.

To that end, we were happy that during this month's Accelerator for America meeting in Birmingham, Mayor Woodfin announced Birmingham's Opportunity Zone investment and capacity building framework, the Inclusive Growth Initiative Partnership. Birmingham is attempting to incorporate a people-centered focus by training 500 residents on what Opportunity Zones are and how they work.

ESSENCE- PolicyLink Mayors Roundtable
As we closed out Black History Month and Celebrated Women's History Month, ESSENCE and the All-In Cities initiative at PolicyLink hosted the first virtual roundtable for the ESSENCE-PolicyLink Mayors Roundtable focused on "Black Women's Empowerment." This gave the mayors in the network an opportunity to discuss a wide range of topics including entrepreneurship, how black women can leverage their political power, and importance of storytelling in empowering – and changing the narratives around – Black women. As the conversation shifted towards the importance of representation, mayors pointed to one tool that is significant in ensuring that Black people's voices count: the 2020 U.S. Census. Check out our article in ESSENCE, "Representation Matters: Why We Must Be Counted In The 2020 Census," which outlines what local leaders can do to ensure a truly representative census.

In solidarity,

Tracey Ross
Associate Director
All-In Cities