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Planning and Equity: A Commitment to Change

By signing the Commitment to Change, planning directors pledge to correct past harms and create an inclusive future. Learn more about the commitment and how you can sign on.

Creating an equitable future

For more than a year, many Americans have struggled with their role in creating and perpetuating racial inequity. They have considered how they can help solve the problem they played a part in creating. Many have taken initial steps to put their thoughts and words into action.

The planning community faces these same challenges. For too long, planners have contributed to systemic racism, segregation, and inequity.

Declaring stable neighborhoods “blighted.” Zoning to prevent affordable housing.

Locating new highways to isolate communities. Concentrating polluting facilities.

Redlining. Racial covenants.

As a result, many communities of Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color (BIPOC) have less wealth, more challenges, and fewer opportunities.

Philadelphia has no shortage of questionable planning decisions. Redevelopment of Society Hill displaced Black families. An elevated freeway in North Philadelphia divided communities. “Urban renewal” initiatives displaced thousands of families in the established neighborhoods of Eastwick and West Philadelphia’s Black Bottom. The Vine Street Expressway cut Chinatown in half.

Admitting the mistakes of the past is the first step on the path to an equitable future. By signing “Planning and Equity: A Commitment to Change,” America’s planners are starting that journey.

Committing to change

A group of city planning directors has examined ways in which planning has undermined equity. They have also made a commitment to change and asked their colleagues to join them.

“Planning and Equity: A Commitment to Change” is a statement in which planning directors pledge to correct past harms and create an inclusive future. The planning directors who have signed the statement are committing to:

  • Creating communities that are culturally diverse, livable, and accessible.
  • Preserving, strengthening, and celebrating the culture, assets, institutions, and businesses of BIPOC communities.
  • Promoting the health, economic, social, and cultural resilience of BIPOC communities.
  • Championing housing choice and economic diversity.
  • Addressing environmental injustice.
  • Removing biases from their organizations.

As Philadelphia’s Eleanor Sharpe writes:

Let’s work together to create a profession of inclusion and equity. Let’s reconcile with communities of color and lift the burdens they have borne—because of us—for far too long.

Learn more and sign the statement

Are you a planning director willing to make a commitment to change? Get started by exploring the American Planning Association’s resources on social equity. You can also view the current Commitment to Change signatories.

When you’re ready, read the full Commitment to Change statement and sign on.

Sign the statement