Where people live matters. Equitable development seeks to provide opportunities for all residents – regardless of income, race or ethnicity – to live in healthy, viable and prosperous communities. Over the past several decades, marginalized and disadvantaged populations have dealt with the harmful consequences of past land use decisions and investments. These consequences range from the siting of potentially toxic facilities to the decline of affordable housing, recreational amenities, crumbling infrastructure and limited access to public transportation. Equitable development seeks to bring residents, planners, government officials and developers together to decide how to address harms from the past while creating a new vision for investing in the future. Equitable development solutions:
- Are based on a community-wide vision guided by locally-defined needs and quality of life priorities.
- Foster social inclusion, community leadership and democratic decision-making.
- Focus on infrastructure investments and economic development programs and policies that benefit the existing community.
- Seek to create opportunity for all, and invest in people, places and connectedness.
The Skeo Solutions team provides a comprehensive framework for revitalizing communities through inclusive community engagement, environmental stewardship and sustainable community development. We have worked with diverse stakeholders from the public and private sectors in rural and urban settings, as well as historically underrepresented people of color, low-income neighborhoods, and areas burdened with multiple environmental, economic and social challenges.
Our work spans a range of scales from neighborhood to region, and has assisted communities to respond to environmental justice concerns, opportunities for economic revitalization and collaborative decision-making. We are adept at navigating the flexible, informal nature of community networks and empowering emerging local leaders to step into decision-making roles. Our approach builds relationships, supports consensus building around a unified vision, and engages participants as stewards and champions of sustainable development. Our equitable development services include:
Stakeholder Needs Assessments – We help our clients understand the needs, capacities and goals of stakeholders in the context of the community’s social, economic, environmental and cultural assets and challenges. Our needs assessments identify technical assistance and actions that can build the capacity of stakeholders to solve problems.
Community Engagement and Partnerships – We help our clients engage meaningfully with diverse stakeholders, including those addressing environmental justice. We support collaborative dialogue that leads to meaningful, sustainable outcomes and lasting relationships. We facilitate public meetings, develop and facilitate stakeholder coalitions, convene charrettes, and develop user-friendly communications and outreach materials, including interactive Web tools.
Equitable Development Assessments – Our assessments help communities identify equitable development goals and evaluate disparities across a range of quality of life indicators. These indicators include access to health care, healthy food, open space and environmental quality. Guided by stakeholder goals and decision-making needs, we provide community-friendly frameworks, detailed maps and GIS spatial analyses that assess the complex intersections of demographics, land use, cultural and natural assets, and infrastructure.
Revitalization Plans – We work with our clients to create revitalization plans for previously contaminated or vacant properties and areas suffering from long-standing disinvestment. Tailored to single sites or larger neighborhoods or regions, our plans provide community asset maps, revitalization concepts, and implementation strategies and actions. Our approach to planning is based on equitable development principles that improve the social capital and health of communities in addition to enhancing the local economy.
Training and Education – We provide tailored training and education services on topics and techniques to help communities, agencies and environmental professionals understand the linkages between equity, land use, economic development, the environment and public health. Our training builds the capacity of stakeholders to understand how to facilitate and manage consensus processes and how to utilize collaborative problem-solving techniques. We provide cultural competency training to help stakeholders develop comfort and fluency with cultures that are different from their own. Our training also extends to green jobs training for youth and adults.
Policy Guidance – Through rigorous statutory, regulatory and technical research and analysis, we help our clients frame policy issues, develop and evaluate policy options, create new policy strategies and actions, and develop tools tailored to specific agency and community needs. Our policy work is informed by extensive experience working with local communities.