Ethical Redevelopment: An Introduction

Place Lab is preparing to publicly present their ongoing investigation and demonstration of projects that make the case for mindful city-building. Through a series of Public Convenings + Salon Sessions, Place Lab will share the 9 Principles of Ethical Redevelopment. Through the social learning network developed at the Salon Sessions, Place Lab and selected practitioners will workshop projects from around the country to share ideas, explore paths to overcoming obstacles, and consider methods of implementation.

Rooted in artist-led, neighborhood-based development work actively occurring on Chicago’s South Side, these evolving Principles emerged from the work of artist and urban planner Theaster Gates, Jr. In the video above, Gates discusses some of the assumptions underlying Ethical Redevelopment. 

The 9 Principles encapsulate a methodology that support the creation and sustainability of successful communities. Rather than calling Ethical Redevelopment new or innovative, it’s more accurate to consider Ethical Redevelopment as an atypical process for transformation that speaks to, and builds on, ideas and work already being done in communities. A people-focused approach to development is simply not as widely practiced as traditional forms of neighborhood development which prioritize profit over community — the type of development that spurs gentrification.

“Gentrification is a standing word for lots of other things that people really mean. When people in poor black communities use the word gentrification, they’re asking specific questions. If something good happens here, will I be forced out? Can I still afford to live here? Will the social constructs that governed how I lived here change?"— Theaster Gates, interview with the Chicago Tribune

Values, process, and aim are what distinguish Ethical Redevelopment from gentrification: robust public life requires a belief in and devotion to place in advance of investment. While there is no single solution to the myriad challenges cities face, Ethical Redevelopment provides a framework for creative revitalization of communities.

As we approach our first Public Convening for Ethical Redevelopment (June 22, 2016), we will be highlighting each of the 9 Principles with short videos, placing each Principle in context through one of our real-world projects, and encouraging you to engage with us by asking questions, sharing your thoughts, and considering how you can leverage these concepts to make an impact on your communities.

As Gates observes, Ethical Redevelopment is a work in progress. We need your input to shape the conversation. Are there assumptions you feel we forgot? How can development occur without displacement? Tell us what you think in the comments section.

Don't forget to RSVP for the Public Convening for Ethical Redevelopment.