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Street in DC with colorful buildings

With the support and co-sponsorship of the District of Columbia’s Office of Planning, CLALS convened a day-long workshop on May 21, 2018, “Sharing Space: Examining African American and Latino Intercultural Exchanges in Dynamic Neighborhoods.” A group of academic experts, policymakers, and practitioners gathered to assess changing community demographics in the District, and identify the central issues associated with these changes in comparison with similar metropolitan areas, with the goal of benefiting policy development and planning in the District and region.

The workshop specifically assessed the resulting inter-group dynamics associated with an evolving narrative of Latino inclusion in neighborhoods that historically have been majority African American, while also examining African American and Latino intercultural exchanges in such changing neighborhoods. Participants identified emerging trends and specific challenges connected to the changing Latino and African American demographic landscape, such as housing, business growth, youth/education/workforce development, and the relative success of efforts to build inclusive communities and inter-ethnic coalitions to more effectively participate in the process of urban planning. Participants also aimed to evaluate the success or failure of programmatic approaches other cities have adopted to address issues related to changing diversity, in order to identify new opportunities for beneficial policies and their implementation.

This workshop began to identify a set of policies and solutions for government, institutions, and the private sector, with a focus on policies that are at once inclusive, supportive of community leadership, and which promote shared visions of community wellbeing and belonging, while mitigating tensions that might otherwise adversely impact disadvantaged communities.

As a continuation of the Center's work with the District of Columbia's Office of Planning, together with CAS Professor and Center Affiliate Michael Bader, CLALS has continued to develop relationships with city and county planning offices throughout the region, presenting outcomes of that workshop and findings from both the 2016 and 2018 DC Area Survey (DCAS) that highlight racial and ethnic disparities in perceptions of area neighborhoods, governance, and services, with particular attention to its growing Latino population. To date, this has included presentations to DC metro region planning directors at the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (November 2018), Montgomery County’s Planning Department (August 2019), the City of Alexandria’s Equity Committee (September 2019), and community advocacy organizations throughout the DMV. The Center is currently working with Prof. Bader, the principal investigator of the survey, to launch the 2020 DCAS.