Just Communities Webinar Series

Just Communities: A New Chapter for EcoDistricts Begins

Nathaniel Smith, Chief Equity Officer and Founder, Partnership for Southern Equity and Suzanne Burnes, Director, Just Growth Portfolio, Partnership for Southern Equity

Tuesday, October 31, 2023

On the 10th anniversary of the founding of EcoDistricts, the Partnership for Southern Equity (PSE)  announced a new name and ambitious agenda to reimagine EcoDistricts as a liberatory model of community development that brings together PSE’s core areas of expertise – land use and development, economic development, energy, health, and impact. Just Communities creates a generational opportunity to come together and foster a growing network of advocates, practitioners, policymakers, and community development industry leaders dedicated to new models of collaboration and impact. To kick off Just Communities, we held a conversation with PSE’s Nathaniel Smith and Suzanne Burnes to discuss the development of Just Communities, including the creation of the Manifesto for Just Communities and the next generation of the EcoDistricts Protocol, AP, and Certification programs.


Building A Just Growth Agenda In Seattle: Exploring Cultural Legacy, Community Power, and Sustainability in the Central District and Capitol Hill

K. Wyking Garrett, CEO & President, Africatown Community Land Trust and Donna Moodie​, Executive Director ​Capitol Hill EcoDistrict; VP of Community Development​ Community Roots Housing

Wednesday April 26, 2023

Seattle is a city of distinct neighborhoods – vibrant, rich with history, and struggling to manage growth and the impacts of rapid gentrification.  Wyking Garret, CEO of Africatown Community Land Trust and Donna Moodie, Executive Director of the Capitol Hill EcoDistrict join us to talk about their efforts to center their neighborhood regeneration work in racial justice, cultural identity, wealth building, and healing in two of Seattle’s most iconic and culturally important neighborhoods. Donna and Wyking will discuss their important work in stewarding new models of land ownership, placemaking, community engagement, and economic development. This includes Capitol Hill EcoDistrict’s REVIVAL program, a series of market street PopUps to support small business vendors and Africatown’s recently opened William Grose Center for Cultural Innovation.


Sweet Auburn Green & Equitable

Cheneé Joseph, President and CEO of the Historic District Development Corporation

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Sweet Auburn is one of the country’s most historically significant neighborhoods – the childhood home of Martin Luther King Jr and the location of Ebenezer Baptist Church where he ministered with his father until his assassination in 1968.

SAGE is an ambitious planning and investment strategy that connects economic development to neighborhood residents through community-led advocacy and investment to promote shared prosperity, sustainability, and Black cultural preservation in the Sweet Auburn district. It is designed to overcome the systemic inequality perpetuated when historically Black neighborhoods are redeveloped without regard to the legacy residents, businesses, and culture.

Realizing the Beloved Community: EcoDistricts Joins PSE to Catalyze Equitable Growth

Nathaniel Smith, Founder and CEO, Partnership for Southern Equity, Rob Bennett, Founder and CEO, EcoDistricts, Ryan Gravel, Founder & President, Sixpitch, Julian Agyeman, Professor of Urban & Environmental Policy & Planning, Tufts University, Helen Chin, President, Communities First, Race Forward

Wednesday, Jan 26, 2022

To discuss this daunting challenge and what is required to reimagine our cities as more just and sustainable, and the opportunities of EcoDistricts joining Partnership for Southern Equity, we hosted a conversation with PSE and EcoDistricts founders Nathaniel Smith and Rob Bennett and three leading urbanists who have been advising our work for years -Ryan Gravel, Helen Chin, and Julian Agyeman.


Tackling an Equitable Green Future in San Francisco’s Chinatown

Cindy Wu, Executive Director Bay Area LISC

Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021

Cindy Wu, Executive Director of LISC Bay Area joined EcoDistricts for a conversation on the evolution of San Francisco’s Chinatown. Cindy is the former Deputy Director for Chinatown Community Development Center, and helped develop and lead their Sustainable Chinatown initiative to preserve and restore one of the country’s most vibrant and culturally significant communities through the lens of sustainability, resiliency, and cultural preservation.  Cindy will reflect on how her work at Chinatown CDC to carefully balance resiliency and green infrastructure while protecting and enhancing the community’s heritage and autonomy, and how her time at Chinatown CDC informs her community development work today throughout the Bay Area.


Green Affordable Housing: Trends and Innovations

Walker Wells & Kim Vermeer

Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2021

Kim and Walker, nationally recognized leaders in urban sustainability, identified ten best practices and four emerging trends in their recent book, Blueprint for Greening Affordable Housing (Island Press, 2020). Use code WELLS at checkout to receive 20% off your purchase of the book. The authors will share their insights into how green strategies can be integrated into affordable housing design, finance, and operations to lower utility bills, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, provide healthier homes, and contribute to regional resilience. The session includes a discussion of the emerging trends related to health, equity, resilience, and looking beyond buildings to neighborhoods and districts.


Centering Equity in a Building Project: Meyer Memorial Trust HQ in Portland

Anyeley Hallova Founder, Adre

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Values-driven real estate developer, project^, Meyer Memorial Trust, and LEVER Architecture, recently completed a new headquarters for Meyer Memorial Trust, Oregon’s largest foundation. Underscoring the values of each partner, the 14-month project embraced a unique and ambitious approach that prioritizes reinvestment in the historic center of Portland’s Black community, workforce equity, and an unwavering commitment to environmental sustainability and climate mitigation.

Reflecting a deep commitment to diversifying and strengthening the region’s minority and woman-owned development workforce, Meyer and the project team developed rigorous social and environmental goals to ensure every aspect of Meyer’s new headquarters reflected the Foundation’s values of advancing equity throughout its investments. The result is an important contribution to Portland’s regional economy and multi-sector equity agenda.


Joining Together For Equitable Change: Insights Into the Role of Collaboration in Chicago 

Kendra Freeman, Metropolitan Planning Council and Steering Committee Co-chair of Elevated Chicago, Juan Sebastian Arias, Chicago Mayor’s Office, Chandra Rouse, Enterprise Community Partners

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Undoing the legacy of racial disparity in community development requires extensive policy and practice changes. Since this work can’t be done by one individual or actor alone, collaborative partnerships lead to informed and effective change. 

In this webinar, hear from Kendra, Chandra, and Juan Sebastian about how local partnerships have brought equity to the forefront of Chicago’s transit-oriented development (ETOD) and resource allocation by utilizing the country’s first Racial Equity Impact Assessment (REIA). Each speaker will highlight the importance of partnership in ensuring that Chicago’s future is one of pride, power, and belonging for all neighborhoods and all citizens.

Accelerating Zero Carbon through District-Scale Approaches

Sarah Zaleski, Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, U.S. Department of Energy

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Taking a multi-building or district approach that leverages existing and future infrastructure can offer more cost-effective and scalable pathways to achieving net-zero carbon communities. A low carbon district is a group or community of buildings, usually of different types including commercial and residential, that leverage load diversity across buildings, shared energy resources, high-energy efficiency, infrastructure, and district-level energy systems to realize net-zero carbon. This webinar will explore pathways to designing, financing, and implementing high-performance, low carbon communities.


Just Growth: Advancing a Racial Equity Agenda Through Land Use

Nathaniel Smith, Partnership for Southern Equity

Wednesday, March 17th, 2021

Nathaniel Smith is a passionate advocate for equitable land use practices and one of the top leaders in holistic community sustainability. Smith’s advocacy activities were instrumental in the ratification of a 15 percent set aside of Atlanta Beltline Tax Allocation District (TAD) dollars for the development and maintenance of affordable workforce housing within the Atlanta BeltLine Planning Area – $250 million dollars over the 25-year lifespan of the Atlanta BeltLine TAD.

In this webinar, Nathaniel will enlighten our community on best practices for advancing racial equity agendas through land use practices. You won’t want to miss it!


Centering Culture and Healing in Community Development

Nella Young & Meghan Venable-Thomas, Enterprise Community Partners

Wednesday, November 18th, 2020

In this webinar, Meghan and Nella shared their lens on cultural resilience and talked about how advancing community cultural equity, stewarding organizational development with a cultural lens, and facilitating space and tools for collective healing can be part of how we define and invest in community resilience.


How a Pandemic and Civil Unrest Should Forever Change Climate, Place, and Equity

Tamika Bulter, Tamika L. Bulter Consulting

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Hear Tamika Butler talk about the two viruses currently killing people of color, specifically Black people, and how our work must be forever altered. In this talk, she discussed how attendees must change the way they envision and implement their work as we look towards a future where inequity and racism must be addressed in all we do. As we strive to create more equitable policies and places in a quest to improve the quality of life for all, centering those most impacted is a critical first step. This talk will help you reflect deeply on how you must start your personal journey of being anti-racist.


Notes on Resilience and Resistance

Kofi Boone, North Carolina State University

Wednesday, September 14, 2020

From the ongoing COVID pandemic to the rebellions that have gripped communities around the world in the aftermath of the recent police murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Jacob Blake, there is a growing push to address systemic inequities in our environments. What might this mean for landscape architecture and the emerging resiliency movement? Kofi framed the topic of resilience as a means to acknowledge the need for nurturing human resilience through ecological design.


Just Sustainabilities in Urban Planning and Practice

Julian Agyeman, Tufts University

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

In his talk, Julian outlined the concept of just sustainabilities as a response to the ‘equity deficit’ of much sustainability thinking and practice. He explored his contention that who can belong in our cities will ultimately determine what our cities can become. He illustrated his ideas with examples from urban planning and design, urban agriculture and food justice, and the concept of sharing cities.


An Equitable Approach to Governance and Consensus-Building

Mencer “Don” Edwards  & Donzell Robinson, Justice & Sustainability Associates

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Mencer “Don” Edwards, CEO and Founder of Justice & Sustainability Associates (JSA) and Donzell Robinson, Chief Operating Officer and Principal of JSA, lead a dynamic session around the design and implementation of large and small group, multi-stakeholder processes that combine impartial facilitation and mediation, information and education with stakeholder engagement to support equity in decision making. Using case studies in Washington D.C. and other parts of the U.S., Edwards and Robinson will explore this equitable approach to scoping, engagement, and governance within a project. With this approach, they shared lessons learned in reaching more just and sustainable agreements about community development and land uses.


Restorative Economics: An Equitable Development Framework and Strategy

Nwamaka Agbo, Nwamaka Agbo Consulting

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Long time social justice organizer and advocate, Nwamaka Agbo, will provide an overview of her Restorative Economics framework, and how she has applied it as an equitable development strategy in her consulting work. The first portion of the webinar will walk attendees through the methodology and principles that inform her framework. The second half of the presentation will take an in-depth look at a recent development project with a close analysis of the integrated capital stack and its implications for achieving the equitable development goals set for the projects. Participants will have an opportunity to reflect on how the financing of development projects can be leveraged to deepen equitable outcomes in low-income communities of color.


Centering Health in District Scale Development

Whitney Austin Gray, International WELL Building Institute

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Social determinants of health — the conditions in the places where people live, learn, work, and play — affect a wide range of health risks and outcomes. EcoDistricts includes health and wellbeing as one of the key Priorities of our community regeneration framework. Increasingly, institutions, organizations, and communities are developing policies, tools, and programs to improve long-term health outcomes in our neighborhoods and public spaces.

In this webinar, we heard from Dr. Whitney Austin Gray, Senior Vice President of Business Development at Delos about the WELL Community Standard, which aims to impact individuals throughout the public spaces where they spend their days. Attendees learned how a WELL community functions to protect health and well-being across all aspects of community life, and how the WELL Standard promotes inclusive, integrated, and resilient, and engaged neighborhoods.


Blue Infrastructure – A Holistic Approach to Water Ecology

Pete Munoz, BioHabitats

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

The era of taking water for granted is over. Climate change and aging infrastructure has prioritized water in the planning and design of our buildings, landscapes, and communities. The most desirable and resilient communities rely on “integrated water strategies,” ways of handling water that integrate built and natural environments, ecological science with traditional planning and design, and the people who live and work there. When designing a site – at the building or district scale – as part of a watershed and as habitat for all life, amazing things can happen. Understanding a project’s water footprint focuses resources on increasing resiliency through expanded habitat and green space, net zero water, and water reuse. This holistic approach to infrastructure respects the natural water cycle and access to clean water. Hosted by Biohabitats, this webinar helps you understand district-scale opportunities including integrated infrastructure, water resources, and ecological benefits.


Civic Ecology: A Citizen-Driven Framework for Communities

Tim Smith, SERA Architects

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Much of the conversation around sustainable development has focused on designing better “hardware” – energy-efficient buildings; renewable energy; leaner, greener infrastructure. While these manifestations of sustainability in the built environment are important, they are not the whole solution. Great communities have robust “software”, the self-initiated, self-perpetuating activities, and social networks of local citizens. The Civic Ecology Institute, led by Portland-based SERA Architects, seeks to illuminate how that software and hardware fit together to constitute a completely sustainable community.