Jennifer Bradley of the Aspen Institute has compiled a series of key guidelines and priorities for implementing our vision for multidimensional infrastructure in real world contexts. Read the first key insight below, and to see the second two, read the full post on Aspen’s website.
1. Communities of color and under-resourced areas must be the first in line for new investments.
As NAACP Vice President of Civic Engagement Jamal Watkins said, “People of color are struggling in many ways. And guess what’s not going to fix it [alone]? The traditional investment in roads and bridges. That is a big piece of critical infrastructure investment, but there are other parts of business infrastructure that have to be invested [in] to create a new normal.”
Communities of color have long paid a high price for inadequate infrastructure:
- Long commutes because of poorly aligned and infrequent bus service
- Lost educational and career opportunities because of a lack of access to high-speed internet
- Widespread costs of chronic instability, which show up in school achievement data (among other places)
“We need all of the traditional infrastructure to be invested in,” Watkins explained. “But at the same time, we have to look at emerging technologies and new realities. Communities of color don’t want to be even more left out of the innovations in the development and the expansion of what infrastructure could and should look like.”
Gains in racial equity have to be part of our return-on-investment calculation for infrastructure spending. Smart Growth America President and CEO Calvin Gladney reminded the group, “The metrics of our infrastructure investment can’t just be cost-benefit analysis, can’t just be the typical metrics. We actually need to [incorporate] metrics that relate to racially positive outcomes as part of the decision-making tool.” New spending should also account and make up for the decades of disinvestment in communities of color. Equal spending in unequal places will not close the racial gaps that still shame this country.