It Takes a Village to Make a City: Why We Need Equity in Urban Planning

FRI, JUL 17, 2020 (1:27)

To address the exclusion of people of color in urban planning that perpetuates and institutionalizes patterns of harm, MassINC has proposed a new practice called Joint Local Planning — community-centric and coordinated district, municipal, and regional planning — as a remedy for historically exclusive processes and inequitable outcomes. But what is community-centric planning, why do we need it and how is it done?

Monica Tibbits-Nutt of the 128 Business Council and Leah Bamberger of the City of Providence’s Office of Sustainability share with MassINC’s Dr. Tracy Corley and WGBH News Transportation Reporter Bob Seay how they have helped transform community engagement in urban planning across North America. They share examples of the way past planning efforts have created systems that marginalize Black, Indigenous, and people of color in cities large and small while describing their successes with bottom-up planning processes and outcomes. The group also discusses how COVID-19 has impacted planning efforts — especially in smaller, Gateway Cities — and why urban residents cannot wait for the end of the pandemic to take ownership of planning their neighborhoods, municipalities and communities.

This event is one of a series of TTOD Talks co-produced by the WGBH Network Forum and is based on the MassINC report, From Transactional to Transformative: The Case for Equity in Gateway City Transit-Oriented Development. To access the report, visit

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+ BIO: Pol Tavares

Pol Tavares grew up in Providence, the youngest of three raised by a Dominican Mother. They’ve left providence for a little over a decade and returned in 2013. They’ve worked in criminal justice, education justice and currently are working in housing justice aside from being an organizer with the racial and environmental justice committee. Tavares uses they/them pronouns and work to sustain Inclusive and powerful spaces for queer, trans, black, indigenous, people of color.

+ BIO: Leah Bamberger

Leah Bamberger was appointed by Mayor Jorge O. Elorza the Director of Sustainability in April 2015. Leah brings a wealth of experience in municipal sustainability efforts. She previously managed the City of Boston’s citywide sustainability initiative, Greenovate Boston. In this role, she worked on policy and community engagement and led the development of the City’s 2014 Climate Action Plan. Prior to this position, Leah served as a consultant to a variety of local and regional governments and nonprofits in the northeast, supporting their climate and sustainability planning work.

The Sustainability Director’s responsibilities include identifying opportunities to reduce the City’s energy costs, working with community groups, residents, and businesses to implement the City’s first comprehensive sustainability action plan, transitioning residents to the Recycle Together program, and other projects. Under Mayor Elorza’s leadership, Leah has prioritized centering racial equity in this work, demonstrated by the launch of Equity in Sustainability Initiative in 2016 and the release of the Climate Justice Plan in 2019.

Leah has a B.A. from the College of Charleston in Political Science and Environmental Studies and a Masters in Regional Planning from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She resides in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood of Providence.

+ BIO: Monica Tibbits-Nutt

Monica G. Tibbits-Nutt AICP, LEED AP BD+C is the Executive Director of the 128 Business Council. Working in regional planning and transportation, Monica’s areas of specialty are transportation planning, urban design, and sustainability. Her work experience includes public sector transit planning at both the MBTA Advisory Board and as Executive Director of TransitWorks. In addition, Monica has worked in regional planning and development for the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC), the City of Columbus Planning and Development office, and the Greater Linden Development Corporation. She received a Masters of City and Regional Planning from the Ohio State University in Columbus and a Bachelor of Science in Political Science and Sociology from the University of Southern Indiana.

In both her work and research, Monica is interested in developing regional strategies that not only integrate sustainable practices into transportation, but also capitalize upon every opportunity to better educate the public about all aspects of the planning process. She serves as the Vice President of the non-profit Youth Engagement Planning (YEP!), which brings urban planning and community advocacy into K-12 environments.

More generally, Monica is an active member of the research community. Select links to her writing and film work, as well as information about past featured speaking engagements, can be found in 128 Business Council’s Press section.

+ BIO: Tracy A. Corley, PhD

Dr. Tracy A. Corley, MassINC’s Transit-Oriented Development Fellow, thrives on creating economic opportunities and sustainable livelihoods for people in our world’s metropolitan regions. She brings expertise in economic development, business, labor markets, architecture, law, and public policy to MassINC. As the TOD Fellow, she convenes political and community leaders to spur inclusive development in Massachusetts’ Gateway Cities.

Prior to joining MassINC, Dr. Corley split time between Boston and the German Rhineland, conducting doctoral research on informal work in Germany’s skilled trades and crafts sector. She obtained multiple grants for this research, including German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) funding. The Berlin Social Science Center (WZB), Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies (MPIfG), and Institute for Labor, Skills and Training (IAQ) hosted her during her investigations in Germany.

Previously, Dr. Corley lived in Seattle, Washington, where she coordinated strategy and planning for Seattle Jobs Initiative, founded two consulting firms, and served as the Vice Chair of Small Business on the Seattle Chamber of Commerce Board of Trustees. Her diverse experience included work in sustainability, energy efficiency, clean technology, finance, banking, and telecommunications. She has also worked as an architect and graphic designer in Seattle, WA, and Greenville, SC.

Dr. Corley attained her B.A. in Architecture Design from Clemson University in 1995 and her M.S. in Public Policy and Ph.D. in Law and Public Policy from Northeastern University in 2018.

+ BIO: Bob Seay

Bob Seay is the transportation reporter for WGBH News.

He formerly hosted Morning Edition for WGBH News, and has worked as a broadcast journalist for more than three decades. Before joining WGBH in October 2010, Bob was Morning Edition host at Rhode Island Public Radio and the director of community radio station WOMR in Provincetown. For more than 15 years, he was the news and public affairs director at WQRC in Hyannis covering Cape Cod and the islands. Bob has also worked as a host on WBUR.

TTOD "Transformative Transit-Oriented Development" Talks