Russell Weaver

Publication Date



data, high road, economic development, housing, neighborhoods, land use, community development, buffalo


Erasing Red Lines of discrimination and inequality from our map is a monumental task that will require transformational systems-change. As community-based organizations are demonstrating the possibilities of alternative systems in specific geographic places, the questions of (1) how to bring those efforts to scale, and (2) how public policies might change in response to the lessons learned from those efforts, require greater attention. Building on the previous installment of this series, this report engages with aspects of these two questions by: (a) further unpacking some of the beliefs, values, and goals that define the current economic system; (b) summarizing and synthesizing selected ideas from the literature to describe mental models that might underwrite a “next system”; and (c) relating a public policy case study from Buffalo, NY, in which a City-run program was redesigned to be a vehicle for bottom-up community empowerment as opposed to a tool for top-down command-and-control. The case study shows how the program redesign implicitly reflects, and explicitly embraces, some of the “next system” mental models that are outlined in the report. For these and other reasons, the program has received (inter)national recognition, and researchers have argued that it might offer budding insights for how local governments can begin reorienting their existing policies away from goals of growth that support the status quo, and toward goals of equity and community wealth-building. The report concludes with a summary of the case study’s practical lessons for policy development moving forward.