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Principal Investigator: Penn Loh, Tufts University, Senior Lecturer and Director of Community Practice, Department of Urban & Environmental Policy & Planning

Community Partner: Joceline Fidalgo, Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative

Title: From Civic Participation to Community Control: Assessing and Strengthening Participatory Planning for Commercial District Development in Boston’s Dudley Neighborhood

This project will explore how civic engagement can strengthen community capacity for control over land use and economic development in Boston's Dudley neighborhood. The Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative (DSNI) was formed in 1984, contributing to the neighborhood’s highly developed civic infrastructure, making Dudley a nationally renowned model for community control that guides development without displacement. Despite the high degree of civic infrastructure and success with developing permanently affordable housing, the neighborhood still is in social crisis, experiencing persistent poverty and high un/underemployment.

Tufts Department of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning (UEP), a graduate planning program, has been working with DSNI since 1990. UEP and DSNI established a three-year Co-Research/Co-Education partnership in 2016 to investigate and advance strategies for community control of land and the local economy. This project will build on that partnership to pursue strategies for commercial development without displacement, with a focus on the Upham's Corner commercial district.

Specifically, this project will assess the impacts of civic participation in the planning process for revitalizing Upham's Corner into a commercial arts and innovation district by conducting a participatory assessment of the impacts of engagement on the development process and outcomes in Upham's Corner, as well as civic infrastructure.

Expected outcomes include increased capacity within DSNI and among Dudley residents to conduct participatory assessments, deeper understanding of the impacts of community engagement and measures of community control, deeper relationships between DSNI, City, and other stakeholders, and lessons learned that can be more broadly shared with other practitioners and researchers.

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