Rethinking Urbanism with the Black Urbanist

What does it mean to have urban spaces that are truly welcoming to everyone?  What does walkability, or transportation access, or nice public spaces, or inviting architecture, look like if you are not part of the majority culture?

Too often, urban spaces and systems are designed by a narrow slice of our increasingly diverse communities, and because they’re the designers, theirs are the perspectives and assumptions and experiences that are placed first.  We replicate assumptions about what these spaces and systems are supposed to be like because we haven’t truly encountered anyone else’s perspective.

Kristen Jeffers has been writing and speaking under the banner of the Black Urbanist for nearly 10 years, and she approaches the questions of how cities work – from design to operations – from what she terms a “black queer feminist urbanist practice & ethic.”  As she outlines in this conversation, that means that she brings a different perspective – one not only informed by her experiences, but by her family history, her partner, and the community of people she is forming around her.

You can watch our conversation above, or listen to it on Soundcloud here.  You can also pick up this and other AccelerateUs interviews on Stitcher or Spotify as part of the Building a Wise Local Economy podcast.

After recounting a different urbanist story and exploring some of those impacts, Kristen also outlines a new Patreon-based initiative she is unveiling.  Like most creatives who share valuable insights, Kristen’s work is not supported by a foundation or funder, and the fact that her insights are cutting -edge and under development means that generating quality work and paying her bills often work against each other.  Supporting her via a Patreon donation is a way to pay her fairly for her work, both for what you and I may learn from her, and the work that she does that benefits the community.  This isn’t common in urban planning and economic development related fields yet, but that’s a failure of our systems to seek growth, not a reflection on the value of the work she is doing.  So I’d encourage you to be a little of the change you want to see in the world.  Thanks.

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