Racial & Economic Justice
We read a lot of articles about local government, public sector innovation, open government, urban planning, and social justice. Since we often relate these articles to things happening locally here in Orange County and the Triangle, we thought we'd start sharing them from time to time. Here's what we read this week:
About four years ago Orange County Justice United came together with El Centro Hispano, the Human Rights Center, the Town of Carrboro, and a number of other partners to create a task force that would work to develop more dignified working conditions for people loooking for work at the corner of Jones Ferry Road and Davie Road in Carrboro. After much work together, on Sunday April 26th we will celebrate the grand opening of the Center for Employment and Leadership (CEL) at El Centro Hispano at 201 W. Weaver Street in Carrboro.
The celebration will start at 3:00 pm at the corner of Jones Ferry Road and Davie Road with a march to the new Center. After the ribbon-cutting, entertainment and food will be provided.
The CEL will have two primary functions, (1) to serve as a safe place for local day laborers to gather and seek work, (2) to serve as a safe place for community members of Carrboro, Chapel Hill and the surrounding areas in Orange County to hire workers in the center, rather than the common gathering spot on Jones Ferry Road.
The Jackson Center’s Executive Director, Della Pollock said it better than I could in a recent letter to Northside neighbors and friends:
In its ongoing series on affordable housing, the Town of Chapel Hill hosted Michelle Winters, senior visiting fellow at the Urban Land Institute’s Terwilliger Center for Housing last Tuesday to talk about the policy tools and best practices for affordable and workforce housing.
Winters began her presentation discussing housing trends nationwide and specifically talked about the recent surge in renter households that is expected to continue into the future. The most important takeaway: Half of all renter households are at least moderately cost burdened, meaning they spend at least 30% of their income on rent. This statistic highlights why housing professionals have broadened their discussion of what affordable means in recent years to include a range, all the way from homelessness to just below market rate. As the town’s executive director for housing and community development, Loryn Clark, put it: housing needs to be affordable for everybody.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the makeup of interest groups and other constituencies in Chapel Hill lately, and how it reflects upon the diversity of our community. I focus on Chapel Hill, because, well, that’s the local entity I spend the most time following. But the same questions I ask below should be asked at any level of government, and of any organization we associate ourselves with.
This isn’t a criticism of a specific group. A lot of organizations I’ve been involved with through the years wouldn’t score perfectly on this test. The point isn’t to make anyone feel bad, it’s to ask all of us to do better.
I believe strongly in meritocracy, but meritocracy cannot exist in an ecosystem without diversity. To find the best ideas, you need to start by collecting the most ideas.
Anyway, without further ado, here are ten questions I hope that everyone organizing a political group, civic organization, or public input session asks themselves.
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