This year, the Kitty and Michael Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy within Northeastern University’s School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs (SPPUA) initiated its Just Cities Forums to increase a regional policy-making dialogue. The theme for the 2018 forums is Addressing Racial and Economic Inequalities in Greater Boston – Transportation. This year’s forum was hosted on Friday morning, October 19th, 2018. According to Dr. Ted Landsmark, Director of the Dukakis Center, this year’s forum achieved its key goal to engage researchers, policy-makers and the public in discussions of how social equity values can be implemented to address pressing urban and regional issues. More than a hundred attendees from diverse disciplines participated in the forum, including speakers, students, faculties, policymakers, advocates, and the public from the Great Boston Area.
Professor Landsmark and Professor Jennie Stephens, the Director of SPPUA at CSSH, opened the forum and were followed by speakers in three panels: Setting an Agenda for Transportation Equity; Data, Justice, and Community Impacts; and Bringing Justice Home. The speakers included both faculty and students from the CSSH, the D’Amore-McKim School of Business and the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Northeastern University. Their topics addressed inequity in public transportation and discussed data solutions to better analyze transportation networks.
Ayanna Pressley, one of the keynote speakers at the Forums, was invited to speak about transportation equity and justice across Boston and Massachusetts:
Public transportation should be viewed through the lens of income and wealth equality. I hope to use my new role in Congress to focus on regional coordination related to transportation infrastructure. We must invest in expanding access to multimodal transportation options to address systemic racial and socioeconomic inequality.
Ayanna Pressley is the first woman of color elected to Boston City Council and the first black woman to represent Massachusetts in Congress.
The Forums also featured Governor Michael Dukakis, Amy Laura Cahn (Interim Program Director in Health Communities and Environmental Justice at the Conservation Law Foundation), Marc Draisen (Executive Director at the Metropolitan Area Planning Council), Angela Johnson-Rodriguez (Transportation Justice Organizer for Transportation for Massachusetts and a recent graduate from SPPUA), and Sara Myerson (Director of Planning at the Boston Planning and Development Agency). Their discussion addressed the intersection of race, poverty, mobility, climate change, resilience, and innovations needed to improve transportation justice. The event livestream is available to watch @YouTube.
Supported by members of the Northeastern University, CSSH, and SPPUA, the Just Cities Forums will be incorporated into the Myra Kraft Open Classroom, combining presentations and breakout conversation opportunities to discuss issues of equity flows from Boston’s emphasis on racial equity in addressing urban resilience. Just Cities Forums will serve as a corollary to the Spring semester Myra Kraft Open Classroom. The Kraft is weekly sessions that are held every Wednesday focusing on equity discussion in the Greater Boston Region, and is open to the general public and students.