Social justice advocate and urban designer Destiny Thomas to deliver Causier Lecture

Destiny Thomas, an urban planner and social justice advocate recognized as a national thought leader in designing just cities, will deliver the 2021 Charles Causier Memorial Lecture at UWM’s School of Architecture & Urban Planning.

Thomas’ talk, titled “Un-planning Cities: reparative design and atonement in the built environment,” will be held virtually on Friday, March 5, at 2 p.m. Register for the Department of Urban Planning’s annual keynote lecture at this UWM webpage.

Thomas, the founder and CEO of the California-based Thrivance Group, has appeared on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” Thomas and the Thrivance Group also host the Unurbanist Assembly, a 23-hour, digital event in which more than 8,000 people last year participated in a virtual teach-in that focused on anti-racist frameworks in urban planning, public health and social services sectors. The next Unurbanist Assembly is scheduled to take place in June.

Her ideas are particularly pertinent for Milwaukee, often ranked as one of the nation’s most segregated urban areas, and in light of protests over racial and social inequality over the last year, said Robert Schneider, an associate professor of urban planning at UWM.

Land-use and infrastructure patterns in southeastern Wisconsin play a role in erecting barriers and denying equal opportunities for residents, particularly those living in the central city, Schneider said.

Actions by policymakers, residents, stakeholders and urban planners can contribute to segregated neighborhoods, limited opportunities to access jobs and health care via public transit and streets that prioritize high-speed traffic over local resident interaction and foot traffic for businesses, he added.

“Milwaukee is an important place to begin the work of improving urban spaces for all, especially the groups Dr. Thomas identifies as marginalized,” Schneider said. “We welcome her to help open our minds to policies and practices that better advance equity and justice in the built environment.”

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