Campus LifeNews

Annual Urban Studies forum addresses collaboration and city plans


The UW Tacoma Urban Studies department held their annual forum in William W. Philip Hall Feb. 21 from 8:45–2:30 p.m. The forum is an annual event that is free and open to the public. This year’s theme was “Learning from other Cities” and included speakers from England, New York and California who discussed their practices of governance and community development.

The event began with introduc­tions from Chancellor Mark Pagano, Victoria Woodards, mayor of the city of Tacoma, and Ali Modarres, director of the Urban Studies program at UWT.

The first session featured coun­selor Asher Craig, deputy mayor of Bristol, England who presented on Bristol’s first ever One City plan that aims to make Bristol an inclusive, healthy and sustainable city.

“The problem that we have been trying to solve and continue to solve and is something that you are faced with here is that we had hundreds of unaligned city strategies right across the city,” Craig said. “…There was no framework to easily bring together our city leaders and the One City vision and the plan is our attempt to frame and focus the debate and cre­ate the citywide leadership model.”

As an inclusive approach to gov­ernance, the One City plan encour­ages collaboration between residents and other city governments. Craig explained the problems Bristol is fac­ing, including an aging population and racism and how Bristol has tried to come up with solutions to these problems through the One City plan’s goals and outcomes.

The second session included Ron Shiffman, Luis Munive and Rosa Scott who discussed the Bushwick Community Plan and the El Puente — a community human rights orga­nization located in several areas in New York, including the neighbor­hood of Bushwick. Munive and Scott, who both work for El Puente, pre­sented on the history of the organiza­tion and on the El Puente Bushwick community plan.

El Puente was founded in 1982 by Luis Garden Acosta in response to violence in the Southside commu­nity of Williamsburg. Since its cre­ation, it has been important in lead­ing many initiatives related to human rights, education, community health, immigration and environmental jus­tice. The Bushwick plan aims to make Bushwick a more inclusive neighbor­hood and tries to accomplish this through planning, community en­gagement, historic preservation and utilizing open spaces.

Shiffman — an architect, city planner, professor and author — dis­cussed the importance of having community groups participate in planning processes and investing in the role of partnerships between dif­ferent groups.

Following the second Q&A session and a lunch break, the forum held its keynote address by Dr. Michael J. Rich — a professor of Political Science and Environmental Sciences at Emory University. Rich presented on collab­orative city strategies for reducing poverty and inequality and discussed the evolution of place-based initia­tives, summarized empirical findings of whether community-based ap­proaches really do make a difference, and explained steps some cities have taken to reduce inequalities.

The last session of the forum fea­tured Andy Lloyd, Head of Children’s Workforce Development in Leeds Children’s Services, UK, which is a city located in West Yorkshire, Eng­land. Lloyd discussed what work Leeds has done to make their city more child-friendly, including five outcomes for every child and how children are in the center of Leeds’ growth strategy. Lloyd also stressed the importance of making more cit­ies child-friendly.

At the conclusion of the forum, Modarres thanked attendees for com­ing and stated that what was dis­cussed at the event is an ongoing work that requires cities to collabo­rate. He affirmed his commitment to working with other cities and institu­tions and hopes that UWT will con­tinue to be able to share ideas and learn from others.

“We heard about the role of phi­lanthropy,” Modarres said. “We heard about the role of community based organizations, about governance, [and] local authorities… It is on us to get together and do the work that we need to do and in places like [the] south sound, we need to begin to think about issues regionally, col­lectively, and persistently, In the end, it’s not about governance, it’s about collaboration, it’s about partnership.”

Leticia Bennett

Leticia is the News Editor for The Ledger. She is a Senior majoring an Urban Studies and hopes to become an Urban Planner. She is interested in all things happening around campus and loves to learn new things and meet new people.