Interactive Exhibit “Undesign the Redline” Explores History of U.S. Housing Policy, Race, Segregation and Impacts Today in Boston

Enterprise Community Partners, Designing the WE, City Life/Vida Urbana and Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation present the exhibit and related programming through December

BOSTON (Aug. 23, 2019) – An interactive exhibit prompts Bostonians to undesign redlining by exploring solutions to reverse discriminatory housing policies of the past and to bring greater equity to the city’s neighborhoods. 

Enterprise Community Partners Inc. (Enterprise), Designing the WE, City Life/Vida Urbana and Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation (JPNDC) has opened the Undesign the Redline exhibit at the historic JPNDC Brewery Complex, where it will run through Dec. 31, 2019. Hosting the exhibit in a place that has been shaped by this legacy validates the lived experience of many local residents and provides a context for dialog and action on how to move resident priorities forward in the face of mounting displacement.

Created by social impact firm Designing the WE, with supplemental content developed by Enterprise and by students from the Boston Architectural College, the interactive exhibit uses powerful narratives of people and communities, maps and other documentation to trace the enormous role that race played in determining where people were allowed to live, and how government policy going back to the 1930s, known as “redlining,” created segregation and disinvestment in communities that continue to persist to this day.  The exhibit is supported by generous financial sponsorship from the Boston Foundation and the Barr Foundation.
 
“We’re thrilled to partner with City Life/Vida Urbana and Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation, two local organizations that have long engaged in Boston’s fight for affordable housing, in hosting the Undesign the Redline exhibit,” said Nella Young, senior program director for Culture and Creativity, Enterprise. “By bringing attention to historically disenfranchising policies and practices, whose effects continue to reverberate today, we hope the exhibit and the dialog it generates will have an impact beyond the housing and planning spheres.”

Lisa Owens, executive director of the grassroots housing justice organization City LIfe/Vida Urbana, said “With this incredible exhibit right outside our office, we can show the 75+ people at our weekly meetings that they’re not alone.” Owens added, “Redlining and other racist policies have dispossessed generations of Black and Brown communities from land and housing in our cities, but the exhibit also lifts up our beautiful movement for housing justice.”

“Raising people’s awareness of how past policies still very much affect people’s lives today is critical to confronting racism,” said JPNDC Executive Director Richard Thal. “The gap between the median wealth of White and African-American families in the Boston area today is enormous–$247,000 vs. $8–and you can trace much of that right back to redlining and discriminatory lending.”  

Undesign the Redline puts into perspective the local community landscape and the history of Boston, featuring the stories of: 

  • The “People Before Highways” movement, where residents of Roxbury, Jamaica Plain, and other Boston area communities fought against a regional plan proposing an I-95 expansion through their neighborhoods. Their efforts resulted in the expansion of public transit and construction of the Southwest Corridor Park.
  • The Boston Riot of 1903, during which William Monroe Trotter was accused and sentenced to jail for his role in the riot. His newspaper, the Boston Guardian, denounced the systemic racial segregation within the city.
  • Villa Victoria in Boston’s South End, an affordable housing community with an arts center, which was developed by the Inquilinos Boricuas en Accion – an organizing group that fought against urban renewal and slum clearance in the 1960s.
  • The community-organized movement to preserve green space in East Boston and fight against the expansion of Logan Airport. 
  • The United Packinghouse Workers of America, the official Boston local, which organized across race lines to encompass a broader social issues in the labor movement.
  • The displacement of 20 tenants when an apartment crumbled in East Boston, bringing attention to slumlords who are raising rents while not providing proper upkeep. 

WHEN:
Aug. 18 – Dec. 31, 2019 | Hours: 8 a.m. - 9 p.m. daily
 
WHERE:         
JPNDC Brewery Small Business Complex 
(hallway outside of City Life/Vida Urbana)
284 Amory Street, Floor 1
Boston, MA 02130

For more information visit the Undesign the Redline exhibit page.
 
Enterprise Community Partners is a proven and powerful nonprofit that improves communities and people’s lives by making well-designed homes affordable. Our donors allow us to advance our mission, while our social enterprise activities leverage their generous support. We bring together the nationwide know-how, partners, policy leadership and investments to multiply the impact of local affordable housing development. Over more than 35 years, Enterprise has created 585,000 homes, invested more than $43 billion and touched millions of lives. Learn more at EnterpriseCommunity.org.

Designing the WE is a for-benefit design studio positioned within the fields of social innovation and community driven social, cultural and economic development. dtW facilitates collaborative processes to redefine how big picture systemic challenges are approached, identify opportunities for action, and co-design more holistic and resilient strategies centered on positive transformation. Learn more at www.designingthewe.com.

City Life/Vida Urbana is a grassroots community organization committed to fighting for racial, social and economic justice and gender equality by building working class power. CL/VU promotes individual empowerment, develops community leaders, and builds collective power to effect systemic change and transform society. For more information, visit CLVU.org.

Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation (JPNDC) works to transform the lives and amplify the voices of Boston residents who have been excluded from prosperity by an inequitable economic system. JPNDC develops affordable housing that allows people to thrive, provides services that help people build on their strengths, and organizes people to pursue the changes they desire. 
 

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