Perrin Lance: Resisting the Renaissance: Organizing Chattanooga for Action

Department of City and Regional Planning Professional Planning Colloquium

Perrin J. Lance, a graduate in Middle Grades Education at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, is the director of Chattanooga Organized for Action (COA). Cofounded in 2010, COA is a nonprofit organization working with individuals and organizations to be the essential agents of change in their communities.

Chattanooga is a city caught in-between two worlds. One city — known as the “Renaissance City of the South” — lauds itself as an arts-friendly and progressive haven for young professionals. Home to the fastest Internet in the world and a revitalized manufacturing sector, this is a Chattanooga that grabs headlines, even winning Outside magazine's Best Town Ever award in 2011.

But there's another Chattanooga. Home to increasing poverty, unemployment, and racial gentrification, Chattanooga is a city where marginalized people have lost land, homes, and lives under projects of many names. From the Chattanooga renaissance to urban renewal to Indian removal, terrible acts of destruction and injustice have been perpetrated on oppressed communities all in the name of order and progress, and at nearly every step in the way, city and urban planning have been used as tools of oppression.

But wherever there has been injustice, there has always been resistance. Lance will tell the story of a small social justice organization and how what began as a series of street protests has transformed itself into an all-out effort to aid in the self-determination of oppressed communities through community organizing and the tools of urban planning.

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