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Welcome to D4’s New Blog Series: Views into Equitable Development!


What does equitable development mean to you?

As you ponder your answer to this question, allow me to welcome you to this new space on D4’s website, the “Views into Equitable Development” blog!

Allow me to introduce myself as well— My name is Alon Samuel, I will be interning at D4 through December, and I will be the main contributor here on “Views”, a blog series dedicated to exploring equitable development throughout Detroit in its many forms.

Before I continue, I do want to recognize that yes, “Views” is also the abbreviated title of Drake’s 2016 album, “Views From The Six”. However, we here at D4 are confident that in time this series will be the more prominent of the two projects, preventing any further confusion.

A bit more about me: Besides making jokes about Drake on behalf of the organization I intern for, I also study economics and urban studies at the University of Michigan. Over the past four years, I’ve taken an interest in the ways cities change in grow, and particularly in how urban policies have privileged certain groups above others. This semester, I am taking part in U-M’s Semester in Detroit program, which involves living, working, and studying in the city, which has lead me to D4.

Now that formalities are taken care of, I’ll get back to the point: What does equitable development mean to you? Depending on who you are, this question may bring a specific image to mind, a series of disjointed ideas, or even nothing at all. Each response is appropriate, because “equitable development”, on its own, has no obvious definition. It’s an amorphous, vaguely positive term which could refer to any amount of social, political, or economic ideas. In short, it’s a buzzword. But buzzwords can be useful, and this one captures an important set of issues. These issues, which D4 and its partners work on, are becoming increasingly important for a city going through rapid changes — from community benefit agreements to affordable housing legislation and beyond.

As such, talking about equitable development in a meaningful way requires us to delve deeper. We need to ask big questions:

What inequities exist?

How does our built environment further, diminish, or otherwise interact with them?

How can development address these issues?

Detroit, in all its complexity, is a perfect setting to explore these questions. It has no shortage of people, communities, and organizations striving towards equity and justice, whose perspectives we can build our understanding on. The goal of this series is to illuminate their work, and explore the questions of equitable development through their example. Over the next three months, we will publish several features profiling such people, and highlighting the issues they work on. You can also expect to hear from these people directly, with several entries from guest bloggers.

As D4’s upcoming event series on equitable development gets rolling, this space will also be dedicated towards covering and recapping each event.

You may (or may not) be asking yourself, “Wait, I can discuss equitable development with D4 in person? And with community members and activists and developers as well?”

If you asking that to yourself, you’re right! In October and November we will be holding several such events, with speaker panels, discussion groups, and even some games! You can RSVP to our first event and find more details on the event page, and like us on Facebook to see updates on all future events.

We hope you join us, both in person at our events and here on our blog, and engage with the complex realities of our great city.


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