Free to attend but must register.
As part of LAI’s 90th Anniversary project, we will explore the history of LAI and racial justice in land economics. Inspired by the book club of our Minnesota Chapter, the Global Chapter of LAI is planning a three-part series around the themes set in The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America by Richard Rothstein.
The Color of Law: Part III
Landing on Ways Forward: Evanston, IL Austin TX, Saint Paul MN
This one takes us further into what can be done in three separate communities to build a better future.
In our third webinar in LAI’s series on Color of Law, we explore three stories from three different cities --- Austin TX, Saint Paul MN and Evanston IL --- of moving forward toward racial equity on land-related topics.
Robin Rue Simmons grew up learning how to cross lines she was told not to cross, and earlier this year celebrated her home of Evanston, IL becoming the first U.S. city to approve a plan to make reparations available to Black residents to address the harm they suffered as a result of the city’s past discriminatory housing policies. As a local city councillor, Simmons was the driving force behind the reparations effort. Evanston has just approved its first project in a ten-year plan to offset housing expenses for eligible households, with the majority of funds coming from a local tax on recreational marijuana.
Heyden Black Walker will help us understand the changing dynamics of mobility as a service, as TX DOT presses forward with a freeway upgrade to add HOV capacity and improve safety on a central Austin artery, while the local citizens seek to reconnect their community across the currently elevated system. The divisions they seek to heal are not just physical, but also racial and economic.
For several years Nick Koch, recently retired, has been helping Saint Paul’s Rondo community in their effort to reconnect their neighborhood that was severed by freeway construction in the 1960’s. Nick will moderate the session, as well as contribute from his experience in Minnesota.
We welcome Robin, Heyden and Nick’s insights into the elements of their local initiatives that might apply in other communities around the LAI globe. Please join us.
Heyden Black Walker
Director of Planning
Heyden Black Walker (MSCRP '87) is continuing the Black + Vernooy family legacy of local urban design and community advocacy. Together with her father, Sinclair Black, she created Reconnect Austin, a community-based call to lower the main lanes of I-35 through downtown Austin, creating a vision of the highway rebuild that reconnects neighborhoods while providing multi-modal access to jobs, medical facilities, transit, and civic resources.
With the goal of equity in transportation and increased access for all, Heyden also donates her time and advocacy efforts to the City of Austin Pedestrian Advisory Council (member), the Congress for the New Urbanism – Central Texas Chapter (secretary, Board of Directors), Vision Zero ATX (member), and the City of Austin Design Commission (former commissioner). Heyden is a 2016 fellow of the national Walking College.
Nick Koch (pronounced ‘Coke’) has been a Lambda Alpha member since his hair was brown, and he served on the Twin Cities chapter Board through several presidential administrations. He is recently retired from HGA Architects and Engineers. Nick credits the University of Illinois School of Architecture for getting him away from his native New England, and Garrison Keillor for the move to Minnesota. For several years he has been helping Saint Paul’s Rondo community in their effort to reconnect their neighborhood that was severed by freeway construction in the 1960’s—which is his connection to today’s topic.
Robin Rue Simmons
Robin Rue Simmons is the Founder and Executive Director of FirstRepair, a new not-for-profit organization that advocates for local reparations, nationally. She is the former 5th Ward Alderman for the City of Evanston, IL, where she led, in collaboration with others, the passage of the nation’s first and only municipal funded reparations legislation.
Rue Simmons was born and raised in the segregated 5th Ward of Evanston, a city of 75,000 on the shores of Lake Michigan on the northern border of Chicago.
She laid the foundation for her life’s work in 1998 when she became a residential real estate broker. Troubled by the wealth disparities and concentrated poverty she witnessed locally and saw in other urban communities, she wanted to help young adults begin to build wealth through homeownership.
Photo credit: Bob Meade