In April, the National Alliance of Community Economic Development Associations, in partnership with the National Association for Latino Community Asset Builders, National CAPACD, and the National Urban League, along with 14 other national organizations, hosted the 2019 People and Places conference in Arlington, VA.. Attendees from acorss the country gathered to "Explore Local Solutions to Advance Community Propserity and Racial Equity."
As a NACEDA member, MCCD was fortunate to be able to present scholarships to staff at our member organizations to attend the conference. Matt Kazinka from Lake Street Council, Maggie Brown and Ifrah Yassin from Project for Pride in Living, attended the three day conference including a pre-conference workshop called "Claiming the Torch: Community Organizations Advancing Racial Equity." MCCD Public Policy Director Rose Teng joined the members at the conference as well.
One of the reasons Matt attended the conference was to "better undersatnd what types of conversations the community development was having in other communities that were similar or different to what we are discussing in Minneapolis," Matt's particularly intersts were around transportation and its role in community development. Maggie, a co-chair for PPL's Neighborhood Engagement Committee, an inter-departmental committee that works to build connections with and empower residents, businesses, and organizations in neighborhoods where PPL has a significant presence, was looking forward to "being introduced to inclusive, 'out of the box' community engagement intiatives, and learn about work that other community based organizations are doing around the country to dismantle systemic racism and promote equity."
People and Places highlighted 148 different speakers at the conference who spoke on equitable development, how to support small business, encourage asset growth, and much more. One of the biggest takeaways from the conference for Ifrah was a wealth building session that talked about those who are "credit invisible" and the potential tools that families and community based organizations can partner on. Another popular session for the Minnesota cohort was a session on community engagement strategies led by artist organizers who, as Matt said, shared so many "brilliant, unexpected and joyful stories about how community engagement can go byeond the basic cookie-cutter approaches we've all seen and participated in".
Another highlight of the conference was the Hill Day, where conference attendees ventured into Washington, DC to meet with Members of Congress (or their staff). The People and Places hosts provided logistical support both before and during the event, as well as a breakdown of top community develoment priorities that are currently being discussed by elected officials at the Capitol. Our cohort had the opportunity to visit with staff from Rep. McCollum and Sen. Klobuchar's offices to discuss public policy in DC but also each of our organization's work locally on community development. It also provided staff who normally take a coordinating or organizing role in planning events like Homeless Day on the Hill the opportunity to experience a lobby day as a participant!
Ultimately, MCCD members appreciated not just the content of the sessions and the opportunity to meet with lawmakers, but the chance to connect with community developers from across the country who share our passion for the work. Thank you to all the organizing groups for putting on People and Places and providing a convening space to meet, learn, and be inspired by others working in community development!