JUST Growth works to leverage and influence both development and infrastructure initiatives through community engagement, technical support, research and collective impact efforts for equitable development. JUST Growth refers to an ecosystem of approaches initiated to realize communities and regions where residents of all incomes, races, and ethnicities can participate and prosper from decisions that shape the places they live. Equitable development emphasizes that all residents should be protected from environmental hazards and enjoy access to environmental, health, economic, and social necessities such as clean air and water, adequate infrastructure, and job opportunities.
Historically, community-based organizations have lacked access to the information necessary to effectively make the case for issues they care about. As a result, these groups have been limited in their ability to convey conditions on the ground, as well as the ability to measure and track impact over time. In recent years, there has been a national effort to combat this obstacle, with local organizations and intermediaries partnering with universities, think tanks, and research houses to make information more readily available and accessible. As part of this, those engaged in social justice work have come to embrace community mapping. Through the use of geographic information system (GIS) technology, local groups are able to link information to maps and tell a story about how the impacts of issues effect quality of life across space and time. Several other metro regions around the country including Denver, Portland, and Boston have created comprehensive regional mapping projects or equity atlases, which have in turn been used to bolster pre-existing equity movements and foster new ones.
PSE brought this concept to the South with the JUST Growth portfolio through the development of the Metro Atlanta Equity Atlas (MAEA). The purpose of the MAEA is to provide regional stakeholders with an up-to-date, easily accessible, data-rich resource capable of informing the larger debate on how to create a more fair and equitable region. Utilizing a broad spectrum of data across multiple quality of life metric categories, the MAEA provides a deep collection of maps and robust analysis. It also features profiles of individuals and organizations working every day to make our communities safer, smarter, healthier, and more well-connected. When residents of communities have access to the highest standards of housing, jobs, education, workforce training, and healthy and safe environments, our nation’s promise of opportunity for all begins to ring true. The goal of the MAEA is to illuminate how regional prosperity and growth can be unlocked when communities have equitable access to a range of highly interconnected resources. The MAEA focuses on illustrating the components of a sustainable region – what a thriving and equitable community should look like – through the lens of eight indicators: housing, population and demographics, health, transportation, jobs and economic development, environment, public safety, and education.
The MAEA’s future is limitless with its inherent ability to constructively illustrate the balanced growth potential not being realized in Metro Atlanta as a result of inequitable development. PSE will continue to incorporate MAEA narratives and data into community forums, reports and trainings. PSE will also leverage baseline data and performance measures around community planning and land use activities utilizing the data as a key point of departure and guiding tool for measuring the performance of proposed policy solutions.
Key topic areas covered in the MAEA include: 1) demographics, 2) economic development, 3) education, 4) environment, 5) health, 6) housing, 7) public safety, and 8) transportation.
The project is executed through the work of the MAEA subcommittee, a group of committed local leaders who convene monthly to oversee its implementation. Partner organizations include:
Atlanta Regional Commission, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Emory University Office of University-Community Partnerships, Emory University Initiative for Race and Difference, Enterprise Community Partners, Federal Reserve Bank, Georgia Department of Public Health, Georgia Tech Community Affairs Office, Georgia Stand-Up, GSTAND, Latin American Association, Mercer University, Morehouse School of Medicine,Nexus Research Group and The Center for Working Families.
The actual mapping and data analysis is being conducted by a talented team of mapping specialists who bring the technical expertise necessary to make this project a success.
The implementation of the Metro Atlanta Equity Atlas is being made possible through the generous support of our funders. They include:
- NeighborWorks America, Southern District
- Department of Public Health, Office of Health Equity
- W.K. Kellogg Foundation
- Mercer University
Our partners include:
Atlanta Regional Commission, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Emory University Office of University-Community Partnerships, Emory University Initiative for Race and Difference, Enterprise Community Partners, Federal Reserve Bank, Georgia Department of Public Health, Georgia Tech Community Affairs Office, Georgia Stand-Up, GSTAND, Latin American Association, Mercer University, Morehouse School of Medicine, Nexus Research Group, The Center for Working Families
Summer County Community Engagement Forums
Between June 27, 2012 and July 12, 2012 PSE conducted 5 county engagement forums in Dekalb, Fulton, Gwinnett, Cobb and Clayton Counties. Residents along with representatives from community based organizations, faith-based institutions and other constituent groups were in attendance. Through a series of engaging table discussions, PSE obtained firsthand insight about not only the community opportunities, but also challenges impacting our Metro-Atlanta region.
The Metro Atlanta Equity Atlas (MAEA) Has Arrived!
The MAEA was unveiled on November 19, 2013 and is available for use by visiting www.atlantaequityatlas.com.