Planning & Policy Lab
The Planning and Policy Lab (PPL) creates and maintains the long-term strategy for equitable development and supportive public policy in the Bronx. Specifically, the PPL offers technical assistance and strategic consulting services for organizations and institutions undertaking economic democracy-related projects, produces planning and feasibility studies, develops policy, and does long-term planning for economic democracy in the Bronx—always centering community leadership.
A community-driven approach to planning and policy development is needed now more than ever as the Bronx experiences many changes within the energy, health, real estate, and manufacturing sectors. If community members can drive local decisions, they can take advantage of new jobs, own newly created assets, and ensure they won’t be displaced by new development.
Our approach values local knowledge from those most affected by the issues, collaborative development of ideas, and learning through the process of creating. Importantly, our planning and policy development is connected to resources for action and mobilizations, to turn ideas into action. While our Economic Democracy Learning Center prepares community, labor, anchor, and elected leaders to understand the philosophy of economic democracy and begin to see their role in decision making, the Planning and Policy Lab takes that learning a step further by providing additional tools and expertise to generate ideas and implement projects together. Finally, in the case of policy, the Civic Action Hub takes community-generated ideas and translates them into concrete campaigns to win change.
Over the last year and a half, BCDI and MIT CoLab have been convening and strategizing with the Development without Displacement Roundtable, a collaborative of Bronx-based grassroots organizations fighting back against gentrification and displacement and fighting for equitable development outcomes that build community wealth and ownership. To share our current learnings and accomplishments, we’ve released the Development without Displacement Toolkit, which provides practical lessons, frameworks, and tools generated by the Roundtable. We hope this toolkit supports other communities across the Americas in fighting forward and advancing equitable development.
The Bronx has a wealth of local planning and policy knowledge, built up through decades of community organizing. However, when most community-based organizations need technical assistance to produce formal research, planning reports, or policy recommendations, they usually must partner with academic institutions and other technical experts. While these institutions provide needed technical knowledge, they do not necessarily use an economic democracy lens, understand the full local context, have structures that ensure accountability to local stakeholders, or contribute to the base of technical expertise within the Bronx.
The Bronx is a place with strong civic assets, creative people, and tremendous untapped wealth. In order to address the challenges the Bronx faces and unlock this potential, we need better coordination among leaders from community, labor, business, and government. This requires bringing their respective knowledges together to ensure that those who currently live and work in the Bronx are shaping its future. Moreover, the philosophy of economic democracy requires that local stakeholders lead the planning and policy decisions that affect their community. A center that can help community members understand plans and policies and formulate their own ensures that Bronx residents can drive decision making in their borough.