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Helping Land Banks Advance Racial Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

September 27, 2023


When Community Progress’ National Land Bank Network (NLBN) conducted its first national land bank survey in 2021, land banks across the country told us they wanted to move beyond a focus on individual properties and transactions to find ways to make transformational change in their communities. They also said they wanted help making this important shift—help connecting with experts, tools, and training in fields like racial justice, affordable housing, and climate resilience.

We listened, and as one of the first steps, NLBN joined with Both/And Partners to invite land banks to join a Land Bank Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Learning Cohort. Both/And Partners are national experts in facilitating conversations around diversity, equity, and inclusion, empowering organizations to lead sustainable change by exploring, expanding, and experiencing equity and recovery concepts from the perspective of behavioral activation.  

The DEI Learning Cohort ran from April to June 2023 and included staff, community members, and board members from the following eight land banks:

As part of the Learning Cohort, participants gathered for four bi-weekly, virtual workshops where they shared their own experiences, engaged with those from their own communities and other land banks, and learned together. Together, the cohort had the opportunity to:

  • Learn how to meaningfully engage in dialogue around issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion
  • Share lived experiences with race and racism
  • Learn about systemic racism and how to disrupt the cycle of discrimination
  • Discover ways to become a better ally within your organization and community
  • Gain inspiration and encouragement to pursue your land bank’s DEI initiatives

Land Banks and Racial Justice

Advancing racial diversity, equity, and inclusion is inextricable from land banks’ function as a tool designed to help cities with entrenched vacancy and abandonment. Because of a legacy of unjust policies and racist systems, these problems are concentrated in communities of color, who bear an unfair share of the burden of vacant, abandoned, and deteriorated properties.

Community Progress is committed to helping land bank practitioners understand this history and the ongoing inequalities that sustain systemic vacancy. Developing this understanding, and the associated skills to disrupt racial injustice, is essential to make equitable change in the land banking field. We look forward to continuing to learn and grow with our partners across the country as we confront these difficult and important challenges.

If your land bank is interested in hearing about future learning opportunities like this one, join our National Land Bank Network. Non-land bank affiliates can stay informed on land bank news by joining our newsletter.

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