At PSE, we focus on places where the inseparable forces of racial and environmental injustice persist- places that BIPOC and low-wealth communities have occupied but have not flourished, and places around the world stunted by a dearth of economic mobility and extraction. Our work was born out of the movement for racial justice in the American South, but we are connected by our history, our pain, and our promise to all communities. Together, we can make a global paradigm shift towards new forms of equitable and regenerative land, property, infrastructure, real estate, and community development.
We recognize the lasting impact of structural racism.
Neighborhoods are a central element of our national economy, and our economy was built on the commodification and exploitation of enslaved Africans, immigrants, tribal nations, and low-income workers, along with our natural resources. In fact, the social, spatial, economic, and environmental makeup of our neighborhoods is the most visible and tangible manifestation of structural racism. We are primarily concerned with this systemic form of exploitation that generated social, cultural, and monetary capital that seeded every global economic sphere. We all have been harmed in this formation, but Black and brown communities have been hurt the most and deserve direct public and private investments that improve and sustain a healthy quality of life for generations to come.
We operate on radical truth and understanding of history.
While some communities have flourished and some have stagnated, almost every place was built on stolen land, with stolen labor. No community is exempt from this history. The conventional, extractive formula for capital development no longer holds. Just Communities offers an alternative approach that relies on alternative assumptions, beginning with this fundamental truth. From this truth, profit cannot be the prevailing criterion for determining the best use of land or labor.
We honor the wisdom of neighbors and the power of community.
Resident power is central to Just Communities. Residents have the right and responsibility to organize- build relationships with each other and with decision-makers in land use and development, and assert their knowledge, experience, and values in decisions that impact their community. Our natural capital and human resources, like sweat equity and home equity, should be valued, and accounted for in these decisions.
We commit to healing and liberation.
Just communities have a moral imperative to acknowledge and redress the cumulative impacts of racist land use and development on our well-being. Land development can be a healing, not harmful process, and development projects can promote the full expression of our humanity.
We are committed to strategies that facilitate a just climate transition.
The urgency of climate change must be met with innovative, fact-based, community-centered solutions that not only mitigate the disproportionate threat that Black, brown, and low-wealth communities face but also shift the burden of reducing carbon emissions from those on the front of the crisis to the biggest polluters. Our most climate-burdened communities require the most resources to become climate resilient.
We leverage public policy for reform, repair, and reconciliation.
Every land use policy and investment today must account for the harm of past policies and practices. Land development in Just Communities is governed by policies and practices that unleash nature’s capacity to restore itself, and that include reparative measures like greenlining, inclusive covenants, and targeted investments to build wealth and health.
We assert racial equity as the superior economic growth model.
We must break the cycle that begins with generational disinvestment in Black and brown communities, followed by unchecked predatory speculation and exclusionary investment, resulting in massive displacement and loss of economic opportunity for residents. The communities we envision for ourselves grow through developments that generate shared benefits, like better air quality or internet access, for everyone, and that unlock economic opportunities, like homeownership, specifically for those left out.
You’re a part of Just Communities.
This manifesto is a call to action to learn, unlearn, and commit to a new model of community development. We welcome anyone who sees their truth reflected in these principles to sign the manifesto and help grow the vision, that every community is a Just Community.