District-Scale Regeneration and the Legacy of Renewal

The folly of building-centric urban renewal reminds us that cities aren’t structures; cities are people.”

Edward Glaeser, The Triumph of the City


2014 EcoDistricts Summit presenter, Naomi Davis has a clear vision of what community revitalization looks like, and it doesn’t involve a wrecking ball.

At this year’sEcoDistricts Summit, Davis, along with Dominic Moulden of ONE DC-Organizing Neighborhood Equity, Derek Hyra of American University and Wadi Muhammad of 270 Strategies will explore constructive, community-grounded tools for creating positive change in their session: Restoring our Place in the World: The Grassroots Role in the Building Blocks of Ecodistricts.

Davis is the founder and CEO of BIG: Blacks in Green™, an economic development organization based in Chicago’s West Woodlawn neighborhood. The organization is dedicated to addressing the disproportionate impact of climate change on communities of color and to spurring the development of environmentally, economically and culturally thriving “walk-to-work, walk-to-shop, walk-to-learn, walk-to-play villages” within black neighborhoods.

In a presentation at Chicago Ideas Week, Davis laid out the problem and opportunity that drives her work at BIG: Blacks in Green™. “After decades of urban renewal, empowerment zones, and choice neighborhoods, we were just about revitalized to death,” she says. Instead of looking outward for major investments and big-ticket projects, BIG: Blacks in Green™ has adopted an eight-point strategy for increasing household income by increasing the rate at which neighbor-owned businesses are created and sustained.

To get a deeper understanding of BIG: Blacks in Green™ and a preview of some of the themes Davis, Moulden, Hyra and Muhammad will be exploring at the Summit, take a look at this video:

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