In collaboration with grassroots organizers from Regeneración, SFA is working to launch a Center for Cultural Organizing in “La Doce,” the corridor of South 12th Avenue from 44th Street to Drexel Road and adjacent neighborhoods in Tucson, Arizona. This largely Indigenous, Latino, immigrant, and economically disenfranchised area has faced a legacy of disinvestment, despite gaining recent attention as a celebrated “food corridor,” home to a number of popular Mexican restaurants. Our work aims to restore regenerative wealth and power to the community itself through the creation of a Community Land Trust (CLT) with an urban environmental focus.
The project is grounded in Participatory Action Research (PAR), which challenges the idea that only academics or trained professionals are the only ones who can do research. PAR recognizes that people whose lives are most impacted by inequities, barriers, and problems already hold deep knowledge and solutions through their own lived experience. Information is power, and through PAR, everyday people can learn to reflect on, investigate, share, and analyze their own situation to produce accurate information for collaborative action and lasting change.
With support and training from Regeneración and SFA, youth and adults have mapped existing resources (land use codes, tax incentives, real estate appraisals), identifying development tax incentives, and identifying occupational folklife practices (carpenters, gardeners, masons, etc.) to better understand their own wealth and resources as well as how to use existing planning zones for community sustainability. Additional project activities include “sense of place” pilot projects, heritage micro-entrepreneurship, pop-up folklife festivals, story sharing, foodways markets, all of which celebrate cultural assets of the community and create opportunities for regenerative wealth distribution, health, and well-being.
The project builds from the earlier La Doce Barrio Foodways Project (2018), in which SFA and Regeneración (then named Tierra Y Libertad) worked with La Doce community members using PAR to learn about the heritage foodways practices. A partnership with the City of Tucson, Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona, and the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona, that project revealed the need for greater support for community governance and and revealed workable models for cultural and economic sustainability (see La Doce Report).
About Community Land Trusts (CLTs)
As applied to community development, CLTs engage residents in local governance as research projects move from planning to implementation. Across the nation, CLTs do more than provide public housing. Many communities use them to increase health and wellbeing and neighborhood vitality by building local food hubs, community based farm and food sovereignty programs, cooperatives and micro-enterprises and mixed use development integrating food, jobs, health care, housing, and education.
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Monument Lab of Culture Trust Greater Philadelphia, Vitalyst Health Foundation, City of Tucson Ward 1 and City of Tucson Mayor’s Office