Organizer: PolicyLink; National Alliance of Community Economic Development Associations (NACEDA)
The process of change within American cities and towns has not always been supportive or protective of vulnerable communities. Approaches like urban renewal sought to wipe out “blight” and revitalize places anew— often uprooting people and their history. At the same time, there is a long history of another approach in which residents’ cultural practices serve as assets rather than barriers. The approaches described in this session position social and cultural fabric as the foundation for community development, deepening the root of empowerment while fulfilling critical needs. Often, this approach is seen as secondary to housing , health, and economic needs of a neighborhood, too time intensive or difficult to navigate, and therefore not systematically scalable within an organization. This session will explore cross-sector partnerships that have developed innovative practices for celebrating and preserving cultural identity as an effective way to advance self-determination and community development.