ALBANY, N.Y.— This morning, the Albany Riverfront Collaborative’s “Together We Can” project was selected from among hundreds of applicants to participate in the inaugural Community Connectors Cohort to support efforts to repair historical damage and inequities through redesigning I-787 and its South Mall Arterial.
The Albany Riverfront Collaborative will receive a grant of up to $130,000 to build local capacity to advocate and co-design the project impacted Albany communities. The Collaborative’s key goals are repairing cultural and historical damage from divisive infrastructure, and better connecting local communities.
The Community Connectors program will take place over the next two years and features a learning exchange this November in Atlanta, Ga., linking local leaders with experts in other cities attempting to accomplish similar objectives. The Community Connectors program is supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and led by Smart Growth America in partnership with Equitable Cities, the New Urban Mobility Alliance, and America Walks.
“This grant award from Equitable Cities’ Community Connectors program is a well-deserved reflection of the hard work that has been devoted by our diverse group of stakeholders, business owners, civic leaders, community organizers – and most importantly, citizens of Albany who have been forcefully disconnected from our city’s promise for generations,” said Scott Townsend, Board President and co-founder of the Albany Riverfront Collaborative.
“When I-787 was constructed by state and national interests in the 1960’s, alongside the Empire State Plaza and its arterial connector highway, their out-of-town focus destroyed our city’s communities and ripped apart the historic pride of Albany,” said Eva Bass, member of the Albany Riverfront Collaborative and founder of the community empowerment non-profit AVillage…, Inc. “Our Collaborative is dedicated to using this grant as a means to actively address and rectify the detrimental effects of systemic injustice on communities of color. We will seek to restore pride: the pride of Black neighborhoods, the pride of local self-direction, the pride of a city that has forgotten who it once was, and the pride of a new generation which still dreams of the connections that Albanians can build by working together.”
“We are pleased to welcome Albany Riverfront Collaborative to participate in the Community Connectors program alongside a cohort of 14 other projects from communities across the country,” said Beth Osborne, Vice President of Transportation and Thriving Communities at Smart Growth America. “There is strong momentum to repair the inequities caused by divisive infrastructure, and we’re pleased to support the efforts of ARC and partners to advance their efforts to create a more equitable transportation system in Albany, N.Y.”
ARC and partners will advocate throughout the redesign process of I-787 to ensure that community led co-creation leads to healthy, inclusive, resilient and safe development for disadvantaged residents harmed by I-787. The ‘Together We Can’ project will build ARC’s capacity to empower a dynamic grassroots process alongside a large list of partners including Albany Bicycle Coalition, AVillage, Baker PR, Clean+Healthy NY, Community Foundation for the Greater Capital Region, City of Albany Sustainability Advisory Committee, Majora Carter Group, New York Civil Liberties Union-Capital Region, NYS Assemblymembers Patricia Fahy & John McDonald, Sustainable Growth, The Albany Waterway, United Way of Greater Capital Region, Walkable Albany and Youth FX.
Removing divisive infrastructure is largely uncharted territory in the United States, but the need to fix the damage it has caused is imperative. Transportation infrastructure like dividing highways and dangerous arterial roads often separates and harms the communities living around them. This is particularly true for communities that have been historically marginalized, who are more likely to live near large roads and face the environmental, economic, and social harms they cause.
For more information about the Community Connectors program and this project, visit https://smartgrowthamerica.org/community-connectors.
About the Albany Riverfront Collaborative:
Founded in 2021, the Albany Riverfront Collaborative, a 501(c)3, is a group of deeply concerned community members that represent a wide swath of citizenry. We are representative of all those that will be positively impacted by this inclusionary initiative whose mission is to engage our complete community in the creation of an equitable, sustainable, beautiful, forever-vision, and the initial, iterative steps toward this vision. The ARC will forge the robust civic partnerships necessary to nurture a river-connected and sustaining community with a vibrant and interdependent economy, culture, and landscape.
About Smart Growth America:
Smart Growth America helps create healthy, prosperous, and resilient places to live for all people through research, advocacy, and direct community support. Our work spans housing and land use, transportation, and economic development to find solutions to communities’ most pressing needs. We work with elected officials at all levels, real estate developers, chambers of commerce, transportation, urban planning professionals, and residents to improve everyday life for people across the country through better development. www.smartgrowthamerica.org