Gabriel Ramos, MUP 2019
Organization: Africatown Preservation & Development Association, Seattle, WA
Sponsor: Joint Center for Housing Studies Community Service Fellowship
“This summer with Africatown has been a phenomenal experience. Working with such an organization has given me the entire summer to immerse myself in questions concerning the role of equity in urban planning and development, but also to gain firsthand experience on how communities can organize together. In the month since the cipher, I’ve collected and gathered much of the experience into a document for Africatown to use as a reference for future engagements, ciphers, and stakeholders. In creating this report, I relived some of the best moments of this experience, and there’s so much to reflect on.
I’m leaving Africatown with a desire to find out how this local strategy can be scaled up. How can groups similar to Black Seattleites— marginalized folk— unite around gentrification issues as well as the everyday sustainability and innovation that misses these communities through the absence of investment? The issues of the central district are not unique. There is a ubiquitous nature to inequality that must be addressed through creative spatial interventions and plans. Seattle is prime for dealing with these issues. The internal inequality in Seattle makes it a testing ground to figure out a more equitable future, and Africatown is at the vanguard of restoring racial equity. As I return to the GSD for my final year in the planning program, I feel confident and prepared to take what I’ve learned into my classes and beyond. It’s been an amazing time that I’m truly grateful for. ”