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Rapson & Smith outline four steps to engage artists and community voices in infrastructure planning

Arts & Culture, From the President

The history of U.S. urban renewal is laced with tragedy: Federal infrastructure projects meant to reimagine our cities for the better instead deepened racial divides, sundering once-vibrant Black and brown neighborhoods and facilitating disastrous commuter sprawl. Look no further than the destruction of once-vibrant Black neighborhoods like Black Bottom and Paradise Valley in Detroit or Seneca Village in New York. The policies from decades ago continue to reverberate today as ever-present reminders of the harm that can be generated by federal spending that fails to fully account for racial equity and opportunity.

Last fall, President Biden signed the bipartisan infrastructure law, a once-in-a-generation, $1.2 trillion investment into the country’s roads, bridges, public transit, climate preparedness, water systems, high-speed internet access and passenger rail. Simply put, the law is the most transformative federal investment of our lifetimes in the U.S. built environment.

To turn that investment in a very different direction than problematic earlier infrastructure projects requires a deeply intentional, and appropriately resourced, elevation of community voices.

In a new op-ed published by Smart Cities Dive, Kresge’s Rip Rapson and Regina Smith call on mayors, city planners, traditional community developers and financiers to invite the creative community into the infrastructure planning and implementation processes through Creative Placemaking.

Together, Rapson and Smith outline four steps to enlist artists and culture workers to help reimagine the roles that public infrastructure can play in revitalizing and fortifying community life and finding transformational solutions to community needs.

Read the full article: Don’t forget about the creative community in the rebuild of US infrastructure.