The Future of the Black Experience in Urban Development

The last two posts explored what urban development has meant to the black community in honor of Black History Month. This time I’m sharing what I think the future needs to be to strengthen and honor black neighborhoods and communities, while including them in the sustainable community movement.

  • Education systems that offer students more options and are more accountable. We need our public schools to begin to function more like some of our charter and private schools, offering students more opportunities to learn and more accountability at an early age. Not through test scores that are inflated, but through actual learning measures and workplace interests. This article in the New York Times presents a good start. Our colleges and universities need to ensure that students are connected to employers or seed funders to find a place in the global economy. They also need to ensure more traditional age students graduate within a decent time frame and without heavy loads of debt.
  • A return to farming. While this may conjure up images of plantations and sharecropping, worldwide there are shortages of land for farming due to over-industrialization and USDA policies favoring large scale agricultural operations. Even if it’s just something simple as community gardens, or what Detroit is doing, we can all try to contribute something back to the land.
  • Neighborhood watches, community associations and other groups that are committed to preserving communities. Not only do these groups allow neighbors to get to know and trust each other, they are great lobbying groups when initiatives go to city councils that may affect neighborhoods fairly or unfairly.
  • Political and organizational leaders who actually care. Doing the same old-same old, trying to profit off of other people’s backs and voting down initiatives because they endanger the profitability of themselves should not be tolerated with black leaders, much like we don’t tolerate them out of leaders of other backgrounds. While wise old leaders who care about people should stay, others should step out of the way for the youth to come in and work to improve their communities.

Now I ask everyone else, what can black communities do to make sure they are a part of the sustainable growth movement this time and not sitting on the sidelines?