Rethinking Place Governance to Advance Equitable Development

The Boston Foundation's first Place Leadership Network process offers lessons in how to build place-based coalitions to advance the cause of equity.

December 14, 2020, 6:00 AM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

Quincy Market

Sean Pavone / Shutterstock

The Boston Foundation is responding to the unequal economic, environmental, and cultural impacts of development in Boston by spearheading a new investments in "place governance," rather than the typical approach of placemaking interventions, through its Place Leadership Network program.

Philip Barash, a design fellow with the Boston Foundation, explains the Place Leadership Network program in a guest blog post for the Brookings Institution. The Foundation launched the Place Leadership Network in May 2019, announcing an application process to participate in the peer-learning initiative that eventually yielded eight teams.

"Participants would be compensated for their yearlong commitment and be eligible for unrestricted funding at the end of the year to support community-led placemaking and place-keeping agendas," explains Barash. Many of the selected teams represent organizations serving communities of color, are led by people of color, and work with small budgets. An article by Sandra Larson for Next City in July 2019 detailed the first cohort of the PLN program.

Barash includes a lot of detail about the curriculum of the nine-month PLN process, including how the curriculum changed as a result of the pandemic. The results were powerful, according to Barash, and point the direction for future efforts: "PLN demonstrated that community leaders can fully, confidently, and justly shape the futures of their shared places. Through the months, we kept hearing a similar refrain from the cohort: If Boston has any hope of altering development dynamics to center community interest and spatial justice, we need to continue shifting the power balance."

Wednesday, December 2, 2020 in Brookings

Street-level view of sharrow symbol on asphalt with parked car in background

How Sharrows Became Cycling’s Most Hated Symbol

Originally designed as a low-cost way to encourage safer road sharing between bikes and cars, the sharrow has become a symbol of the lack of commitment to protected bike infrastructure in many cities.

August 2, 2022 - Denverite

A image of the World's Columbian Exposition overlayed with a picture of Keanu Reeves in the rain from the movie Point Break.

Keanu Reeves Set to Play Daniel Burnham in ‘The Devil in the White City’

Planning is going to get a new level of star power as a limited series adaptation of The Devil in the White City gets ready for television screens in 2024.

August 8, 2022 - Reel Chicago

View from middle of street in downtown Telluride, Colorado with mountains in background

Marrying Urban Identity and Economic Prosperity

A new book posits that truly successful communities have a strong economic base and a firmly rooted sense of place.

August 5, 2022 - Governing

Women Public Space

Urban Design Through a Gender Lens

Building cities to be safe and accessible for women and LGBTQIA+ people has benefits for all users of public space.

45 minutes ago - Architecture Daily

Rendering of downtown Milwaukee sports stadium with soccer field

Sports Stadiums Bring Few Economic Benefits

While their developers often tout jobs and local economic development as benefits of major stadium projects, research shows these venues often make little impact on local economies.

1 hour ago - Urban Milwaukee

Dallas Freeways

A How-To for ‘Freeway Fighters’

Ten recommendations for effective freeway removal advocacy.

2 hours ago - Strong Towns

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Hand Drawing Master Plans

This course aims to provide an introduction into Urban Design Sketching focused on how to hand draw master plans using a mix of colored markers.