Grad Slam Text
Not a transcript, but the text that I was trying to recite.
Imagine, if you don't already, depending on the bus stop a few blocks away to get to your work, shopping, appointments, most anything outside of your home life.
Now imagine walking up to see a paper sign saying that this bus stop is no longer in use.
How does this happen out of the blue?
The planning processes that decide bus stops and routes, or even the existence of a bus system at all, are largely opaque and invisible despite their impact on our everyday lives.
How can individuals who depend on these systems influence these decisions?
My research began with mobility justice and equity frameworks from The Greenlining Institute, the Untokening convening, and Transit Center that help agencies and municipalities connect with the communities their plans affect, to address past harms and uplift marginalized voices.
I also read up on methods for organizing communities for self-advocacy, other methods for involving the public in planning decisions, and outcomes of various implementations of these methods.
I then used the ideas outlined in these documents to evaluate the community outreach work that was conducted for bus rapid transit in San Francisco and Oakland.
However, today I am going to talk about the underlying mobility justice work that can be applied to all transit projects.
It all boils down to the same basic idea : any transit project must be planned in conjunction with the affected communities.
And any equitable project will involve the most disadvantaged and under-represented voices before professional planners.
But this is a slow and humbling process for people used to making top-down decisions based on quantifiable data.
It means truly listening to a community's needs and being ready to bridge gaps when conflicts arise, because they will.
Community feedback is messy. For the bus rapid transit systems I am studying, some people want dedicated bus lanes, while others want to keep existing on-street parking.
How do we as planners decide how to move forward in a situation like this?
We come back to principles of mobility justice and equity -- it is crucial that planners understand the historic and systemic inequities in the communities that our plans affect, and that we work to remediate these inequities rather than deepen them.
When we planners work together with marginalized community members to overcome historic barriers, working bottom-up instead of top-down we can build towards mobility justice for all.