Can an Equity Agenda Spark Economic Growth?

kristy Community Development Solutions

Can an Equity Agenda Spark Economic Growth?

By Neal Peirce

For Release Sunday, November 20, 2011
(c) 2011 Washington Post Writers Group

DETROIT — “We stand with Occupy Wall Street. We’re inspired by the organizing we’ve seen… It catches the moment.”

But the group PolicyLink, meeting here last week with 2,300 community organizers, policy advocates and foundation observers in attendance, had a major agenda ready to roll well before the first tents went up in New York’s Zucotti Park.

Its thrust: “Equity is the superior growth mode for America’s future.”

America, the participants agreed, needs a massive shift from the last decade’s growth model, based as it was on a housing bubble, credit-fueled consumption and a deregulated financial industry.

But the equity answer they advocate doesn’t just mean social justice or simply serving PolicyLink’s mission of benefitting low-income groups and people of color. Rather, they assert, “it’s an economic necessity for the United States” — that building the capabilities of people now trailing in education and work-readiness “creates the conditions that allow us to flourish. The more we invest in each other, the better off we will be. Equity is the superior growth model.”

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Regionalism: Wonky but Real

By Mary Newsom
For Release Saturday, November 19, 2011

It’s as obvious as the air we breathe, as basic as the fluid geography of a watershed, as clear as the connection between a new highway and the strip shopping centers and subdivisions that cluster nearby.

But then again, the air flowing over city limits and state lines is invisible. And most people don’t stop to think that what goes down the kitchen sink or runs off a muddy construction site eventually flows into rivers or lakes and sometimes into other people’s drinking water supply. Even the idea that road building shapes how we live, work and shop is a foreign concept to most people.

In other words despite city limits, voting districts and state lines on maps, in the real world of air and water, of urban transportation and economies, city regions function in ways our American political systems may not recognize. Although environments, economies and living patterns create very real urban regions, those geographic areas don’t exist in the basic structure of the government of the United STATES. Under the Constitution, states have powers; cities don’t.

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