An Unlikely Story of Equitable Solutions in an Unequal City

September 4, 2019 by Cassandra Ceballos

Cities are making a comeback in the United States. After half a century of disinvestment and suburban white flight, city-center living is “in” again. Across the country urban revitalization follows a similar pattern: often well-intentioned but ultimately exclusionary, frequently leading to displacement. However, in some cities folks are successfully working together to disrupt the familiar pattern, centering equity and making huge impacts with a fraction of the funding most developers employ. One such program is the Just Growth Circle (JGC) in Atlanta, GA, a city with the greatest level of income disparity in the country. Formed several years ago through a unique partnership between Climate Interactive’s Multisolving program and the Partnership for Southern Equity, the JGC promotes cross-sectoral collaboration at the nexus of health, water, climate, housing, jobs, and racial equity.

Beth Sawin, (Co-Director, Climate Interactive), Nathaniel Smith (Founder & Chief Equity Officer, Partnership for Southern Equity) and Tina Smith (President, Anderson Smith Consulting) recently co-authored an NPQ article, Equity, Health, Resilience, and Jobs: Lessons from the Just Growth Circle, which tells the story of the formation and evolution of the JGC. The article details the Circle’s novel approach to collaboration as well as what the group has learned thus far, both in terms of what works and what doesn’t, in the hope that the lessons uncovered can be useful elsewhere. Guided by complex systems theory and an unwavering dedication to equity, the impacts of the Just Growth Circle are only beginning. Click below to read the article in its entirety.