2019 BECDD Summit Synopsis
OVERALL THEMES AND CALLS FOR ACTION FROM THE 2019 SUMMIT
- POLICY FORMATION IS KEY TO SUCCESSFUL COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT BUT POLICY HAS TO BE HUMAN-CENTERED
- “RESIDENT-CENTERED” AND “RESIDENT-DRIVEN” COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT ARE BOTH IMPORTANT; WE HAVE TO LEARN TO LIVE WITHIN BOTH PARADIGMS
- COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT REQUIRES INSTITUTIONAL PARTNERS AND STAKEHOLDERS BUT THOSE STAKEHOLDERS CAN’T TAKE UP TOO MUCH SPACE – THEY MUST BE NEUTRAL AND TRUSTWORTHY. RESIDENTS MUST BE IN THE LEAD.
- GOVERNMENT AND PHILANTHROPY SHOULD BE HELD TO ACCOUNT FOR THEIR DECISIONS IN DETROIT’S NEIGHBORHOODS. THE POWER BALANCE SHOULD SHIFT. PHILANTHROPY SHOULD HAVE OUR BACKS. GOVERNMENT SHOULD SUPPORT, BUT HAS TO RECOGNIZE THAT IT DOESN’T “OWN” OUR CITY.
- COMMUNITY-LED PLANNING IS ESSENTIAL. IT TAKES TIME AND MONEY. DATA USEFUL IN PLANNING HAS TO BE COMPLEMENTED BY RESIDENTS’ INSIGHT PLUS CURRENT REALITY TO BRING BOTH TECHNICAL EXPERTISE AND LIVED EXPERIENCE TO THE TABLE. THEN WE MUST GET BEHIND THE DECISIONS MADE BY RESIDENTS.
- YOUNG PEOPLE ARE INTERESTED IN THEIR NEIGHBORHOODS. IN MANY WAYS THEY ARE AHEAD OF THE GAME. WE NEED TO NURTURE YOUNG PEOPLE AS COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT LEADERS BUT KEEP THEM CONNECTED TO THE ELDERS.
- RESIDENTS HAVE TO BE INVOLVED AT EVERY LEVEL OF COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT, ESPECIALLY ON THE BOARDS. WHEN RESIDENTS DO THE WORK OF COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT THEY SHOULD BE COMPENSATED.
- IN DETROIT’S DISTRICT SYSTEM, WE SHOULD RECOGNIZE THAT WITHIN DISTRICTS, NEIGHBORHOODS ARE DIFFERENT FROM ONE ANOTHER
- DISTRICT-BASED COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT MODELS SHOULD BUILD ON EXISTING PLANS, AND FOCUS ON EXISTING RESIDENTS.
- WITHIN NEIGHBORHOODS, CDOs AND NEIGHBORHOOD GROUPS SHOULD BE CONNECTED, AND FIND WAYS TO COMMUNICATE BETTER AND DO THE “DEEPER WORK” TOGETHER. WE SHOULD RE-THINK HOW WE ORGANIZE MEETINGS, AND FIND BETTER WAYS TO SEEK/HEAR THE VOICES OF PEOPLE TOO BUSY TO COME TO MEETINGS.
- FOR COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT TO WORK BEST IT SHOULD CONNECT TO SCHOOLS, EDUCATION AND LEARNING IN OUR NEIGHBORHOODS; AND IT SHOULD CONNECT TO JOBS AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT.
- INSTITUTIONAL RACISM MUST BE NAMED AND DEALT WITH, FOR COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT TO SUCCEED.
- IF EQUITABLE DEVELOPMENT IS TO BE ACHIEVED, WE HAVE TO LEARN TO TRUST ONE ANOTHER AND BUILD AN “INSIDE-OUTSIDE” STRATEGY
- THE MOST IMPORTANT MEASURE OF A SUCCESSFUL NEIGHBORHOOD IS “A STRONG SENSE OF CONNECTION AMONG NEIGHBORS.”
Key Points: Discussion after the Practitioner Panel on Resident-Centered Community Development
Difference between “Resident-Centered” and “Resident-Driven”? Is one better than the other?
- “Centered” has the interests of residents at heart, to create consistency and trust; “Driven” means residents are driving and deciding decisions.
- It’s easy to use the term “Driven” until it veers from what foundations or government wants; “Community Control” is a better term
- “Community” is a loaded term: the question is “Are we willing to get behind what residents want?
- Who is on the Board of Directors of the CDO is key – is it primarily residents? Are they driving the decisions?
- Language is key. Resident-centered means things are happening to the residents. Resident-driven means how are we as organizations showing up for people not coming to our meetings?
- “Centered” vs. “Driven” is the wrong premise! It should be both-and. Sometimes we do both together, and we have to live within the tension of those two things. The key is that the organization is not the “decider”.
How is Physical Development integrated with resident engagement/empowerment?
- Example of residents actually investing their money in a shopping center developed by a CDO
- A CDO sponsors a “Blight to Beauty” boot camp for residents who engage in beautifying vacant land
- In another example, resident organizations receive mini-grants to reclaim vacant lots
- A CDO helps residents do their homework: research ownership, cost of beautification/rehab
- A CDO can facilitate development plans done by residents, then support those plans
How do we bring different stakeholders together to support resident-centered community development?
- The key is mutual respect, and staying in our lanes.
- Sometimes city employees, even with good intentions, feel they “own” the city – but they don’t. Residents own the city. City employees have to let that belief go.
- We have to connect better with DPS-CD. A big issue is the condition of school buildings. CDOs can help with support services like mentoring and homework help. CDOs can mobilize parents. DPS needs outside partners.
Key Points: Table Discussions on BECDD Pilot Projects
Neighborhood Voice and Advocacy Project: What are the challenges in asking different stakeholders from different sectors to work together? How do we deal with those challenges?
- Developing a shared vision for neighborhoods with values that align with residents’ values
- There is a lack of real communication. Outside stakeholders don’t actually engage with the community or have data to learn about the community. Not all residents are on social media or trust media sources. People can be aware of projects in neighborhoods around the world, but aren’t aware of what’s going on in their own backyard.
- Each neighborhood is different within Districts; and there is a big difference between the eastside and westside communities.
- Neighborhood group meetings can be a good way to share information, but we have to find new and better ways to disseminate information to marginalized voices that aren’t captured in meetings; how can we use technology to get these voices? Too many meetings occur that discuss the same or similar information. To get more voices into the mix we need to think about how residents really get their information. Door to door work – can high school students be part of this?
- District Managers, CDO employees, funders and other stakeholders need to rely on their strengths in neighborhoods, on an individual staff basis and on an organizational basis.
- City government must understand what true engagement is, especially youth engagement. Its important for people to put themselves in residents’ shoes/understand where they are coming from. Where are the District Managers? And other city employees and departments?
- Disbursement of vacant land/lots means that neighbors don’t know their own neighbors like they used to
Neighborhood Vitality Success Framework Project: How should the key “neighborhood success” indicators at your table be prioritized?
- Highest Priority – Strong sense of connection among neighbors
- Second Highest Priority – Feeling safe in the neighborhood
- Third Highest Priority – Rising Property Values
- Fourth Highest Priorities – Jobs, Education, Public/Private Investment
Additional Measures – levels of noise and air pollution, residents participating equally, use other measures besides the real estate market to define “value”; wealth building among residents
Additional Comments – some of these measures are similar and could be clustered; ask “does my neighborhood have these things”? better if jobs are local, located in neighborhoods.
Proposed Michigan Community Investment Tax Credit: What kinds of community development initiatives should be supported through these donations?
- Align investment with “Neighborhood Vitality” indicators
- Prioritize Operations Support for CDOs where they decide best use of funds
- Housing services: homebuyer and other counseling services
- Housing rehab (versus new construction)
- Community Engagement processes
- Access to date and zoning information
- Job Creation
- For real estate projects, include funding for pre-development
Other comments/questions to address:
- Clarify what is an “eligible” organization, or if there is a list of eligible organizations
- Should it be just the “traditional” CDOs in Detroit?
- Define “development” – is it real estate, people or both?
- Is there room to support Grass Roots Organizations’ projects?
Key Points: Plenary Discussion on BECDD Equitable Development and Policy Priorities
- Language matters: this language is real estate-centered language; need to reframe the language and do a better job of describing the intersection between real estate and people, and flipping the current script on how we think of community development
- Are we only concerned with policies related to housing real estate? What about other people-oriented policies? What about policies related to basic needs of people in Detroit?
- We could divide a policy agenda into a) people-centered policies, b) land use policies and c) bricks-and-mortar policies
- The Community Development “values” developed through BECDD need to be woven into the description of the policy priorities.
- We need to think through how to operationalize the Equitable Development definition, especially with “tiny” projects in neighborhoods, and find ways to creatively capitalizing them.
- Prioritize a) permanent affordability, b) the upcoming blight bond, c) rehab and repair including energy efficiency
- How do we advance these policy priorities? What are the organization(s) taking the lead on this? (CDAD has a policy agenda)
- Need to find a way to bring funding to this strategy and these priorities
Key Points: Plenary Discussion after Keynote: “Equity & Justice in Detroit Neighborhoods: a Community Development Response”
- Look at “Human Spirit” policies in Japan, which put individual people at the center
- Look at the “Equity Index” tool now in play in Minneapolis and San Fransisco
- Does Detroit have a standard for “equity” and “justice”?
- Community Development is very complicated – take one problem at a time and measure progress
- There are three levels that should be dealt with: “Immediate Action” to support people in need; “Policy Change” to change laws and behaviors; and the highest level, “Institutional Racism.” Institutional Racism won’t be changed in the immediate.
- Does that mean we shouldn’t deal with institutional racism? That is not acceptable.
Key Points: Reports Out from District Breakout Discussions
What is going on in your District? What/Where are the Organizations? What are the Barriers to Resident-Centered Community Development?
District #1 (Far Northwest)
- Incredibly well-organized with GROs, but we haven’t documented all of them
- Shifting from homeowners to renters
- Need to better understand the shifting demographics
- Smaller groups and CDOs need to connect better – how do we do the deeper work together?
District #2 (Near Northwest)
- An aging population that is disconnected
- We don’t know about all the players
- Some neighborhoods are isolated within the district, especially on opposite sides of Woodward
District #3 (Northeast)
- There are inter-generational barriers
- There is no central repository for information-sharing
- There are immigration barriers with language and culture
- There is a dynamic of racism that stops us from working together
- We have a strong District Manager and some trusted advisors/partners
- We need to identify mutual challenges through story-telling and leveraging the innate experiences within the District
District #4 (Far East)
- It’s a big district; there are a lot of organizations not documented; wide expanse of economic and physical diversity
- We need a vacant land strategy
- We need paid organizers who will use different/multiple platforms to communicate
- We need to re-think how we meet together
- Multiple organizations shouldn’t serve the same geographies
- Getting organizational leaders together to talk about “coverage” will bring out insights not in the survey
District 5 (Near East/Central/Downtown/North End)
- It’s a schizophrenic, huge district with “east side-west side” dynamics. Eastside groups know each other well.
- There is a strong District Manager
- There is an influx of “new neighbors” all over the District
District 6 (Southwest)
- District is very well organized
- District is environmentally polluted
- We are losing our cultural identity and history
- We are missing child care services
District #7 (Far West)
- “We are the best District in Detroit”
- We do a lot of skill-sharing and beautification
- We need zoning changes to help small, locally owned businesses
Key Points: Plenary Discussion on Barriers to Resident-Centered Community Development in Detroit
- Will focusing on District-by-District strategies create unhealthy competition between neighborhoods?
- Not enough respect/valuation of residents’ expertise and time, especially young people; on the other hand, we don’t have enough residents involved – have to find ways to engage people who can’t make it to meetings
- There is “hot property” in some neighborhoods, but other neighborhoods are in “survival mode.”
- We need a District-by-District model that responds to existing residents; building on plans already in play
- Encouraged by the alignment of BECDD policy priorities with city priorities; but there are still not enough healthy partnerships between the City and CDOs. City policy doesn’t always manifest itself on the ground, but that’s an opportunity to work better together. We have to learn how to work together better, especially around affordable housing
- We must deal with racism now – we must name it and deal with it
- Sometimes Intermediaries get in the way of resident voice – we have to stand back and recognize the dynamic of “organizational privilege.”
- We don’t communicate well with each inside neighborhoods – it’s OK to disagree and work it out
- We don’t have a culture of resident engagement like they do in other cities
- The “false urgency of time” ends up short-changing resident engagement – it takes time and we have to invest that time
- “Stakeholders” take up too much space. It’s not that they shouldn’t be there but they should be neutral and trustworthy and now they have too much power. People experiencing the problems the most need to take up most of the space.
Key Points: A Call to Action
- We have to build trust within the community development sector – that is key to moving forward. Its time for a radical shift in how we work together
- Government and Philanthropy have to be held to account and the power dynamic has to shift.
- Philanthropy needs to have your back as you do your work!
- We need an “inside” strategy where we deal with personal/philosophical disagreements among the social justice sector and the community development sector. But we also need an “outside” strategy to change the power dynamic.
- The blueprints for doing this are being ignored right now.