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October 25th, 2020
By Sherry Barrett
Below is an opinion-editorial article by Upstate Forever's Land Policy Manager Sherry Barrett originally published by the Spartanburg Herald-Journal:
A place is more than a geographic location. A place is its people, its economy, its government and institutions, as well as its natural and built environments. Together and through time, these systems create a culture that embodies a place. Unique qualities and characteristics play a role in creating great places, but the concept of equity should be universal — the superglue that holds together and sustains every place in America. Congratulations to the City of Spartanburg for taking steps, beginning in 2018, to pursue an equity-focused comprehensive plan.
One of the first questions Plan Spartanburg is asking constituents is — what does equity mean for Spartanburg? According to the Plan Spartanburg website, “Equity is defined uniquely in every community, but is typically achieved when all members of a community have the resources and opportunities that they need, regardless of gender, race, education, or other specific individual attributes.” Answers from community members will help project consultants get beyond the general concept of equity and enable them to understand and reflect local nuances in drafting the plan.
Visit PlanSpartanburg.com to participate. The project website is robust, interactive, and includes resources to engage by hosting small group discussions on your own and offering fun ways for young people to participate. Find the opportunities that suit your preferred style of engaging and best convey the information and ideas you most want to contribute.
Don’t miss the opportunity to participate in Planapalooza, a multi-day event ending October 26, during which the project consultants actually begin drafting the plan as they engage participants. If you care about the City of Spartanburg and its current and future residents, now is the time to have a say in planning its future — every step of the way and in every way possible, whether virtual or in-person.
An equity-focused comp plan will lay the foundation for leaders to give teeth to their recently adopted resolution apologizing for the City’s history of racial injustices — including discriminatory zoning policies — and pledging to do more to promote racial equity, inclusion, and diversity. Kudos to Council for making Spartanburg the first city in South Carolina to offer a formal apology to Black residents for systemic injustices.
City leaders will ultimately rely on the comp plan that emerges in 2021 to guide their decision and policy making — including taking steps to align zoning and land development policies with the new plan once it is adopted. Strong public input now and ongoing support moving forward will be critical to help leaders honor their pledge and to achieve the vision of a more equitable city.
Plan Spartanburg holds great promise. With city officials leading by example and citizens actively engaged in an equity-focused comprehensive planning process, Spartanburg is putting itself on the map as a place on the cusp of creating a more equitable city for all.
Sherry Barrett is the Land Policy Manager at Upstate Forever. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.