At Planet Forward’s 2016 Summit a panel gathered to discuss how to create more sustainable, and equitable cities. At the beginning of the session each panelist was asked to describe in one word what they believed the biggest challenge was to creating these cities. In response, two answered money, one answered hope, another said participation, and the last responded with income inequality.
Inequality was a major topic of conversation on the panel, with a student from Tougaloo bringing up the issue of food inequality in Mississippi even before the panelists came onstage.
Moderator Imani Cheers, Assistant Professor of Media and Public Affairs at the George Washington University, posed a relatable question for many who reside in growing urban centers. “Is there a difference between revitalization and gentrification?” she asked.
Thomas LaVeist, Professor and Chair of the Department of Health Policy and Management at the George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health, countered that it was possible, citing a housing project in Baltimore. However, he also added that this was not always done in a mindful way.
A comment made by Huntsville, Alabama, Mayor Tommy Battle earlier in the panel summed up the importance of keeping that distinction well. “When you grow, everybody has to be a part of that growth, of that prosperity” he said.