Todd Swanstrom: The Ferguson Moment: Equity Planning in a Fragmented Suburban Setting
The Des Lee Professor of Community Collaboration and Public Policy Administration at the University of Missouri–St. Louis (UMSL), Todd Swanstrom specializes in urban politics and public policy. Swanstrom has an M.A. from Washington University (1971) and a Ph.D. from Princeton University (1981). His first book, The Crisis of Growth Politics: Cleveland, Kucinich, and the Challenge of Urban Populism, won the Best Book Award from the Urban Section of the American Political Science Association. His coauthored Place Matters: Metropolitics for the Twenty-First Century won the Michael Harrington Award, which recognizes "an outstanding book that demonstrates how scholarship can be used in the struggle for a better world." His coedited volume, Justice and the American Metropolis, develops the idea of "thick injustice." Swanstrom's current research focuses on neighborhood change in older industrial cities, community development, and inner-ring suburban governance. He uses the resources of his endowed professorship to support the Community Builders Network, a coalition of CDCs, banks, foundations, and governments working to build better neighborhoods throughout the St. Louis region.
Equity planning developed as a response to the urban crisis of the 1960s and 70s. As exemplified by the recent turmoil in Ferguson, Missouri, urban issues have migrated to the suburbs. More poor people now live in suburbs than in central cities. Suburbs present new and daunting challenges for equity planners. Compared to central cities, suburban governments are smaller and under-resourced, nonprofit service providers are weaker, and the tradition of community organizing is less developed. This presentation will analyze the challenges facing equity planning in suburbs and recommend new strategies and tactics. A case study of an effort to do transit-oriented development (TOD) in a weak market suburb of St. Louis will be used to highlight the challenges and opportunities for equity planners in fragmented suburban settings.