What does conservation mean in an urban context? Can conservation principles be applied to socio-cultural considerations? Cities are subject to a confluence of factors both environmental and social. Density is the bellwether of opportunity, but drives fundamental changes to natural assets and overdraws existing ecosystems. Growth is an indicator of prosperity, but brings with it speculation, gentrification, displacement, and ultimately erasure. Community Land Trusts are a vehicle for not just the protection and preservation of land, but its residents as well. Community Land Trusts are a form for nonprofit land ownership which values communities and their assets as resources rather than commodities; supporting community agency, environmental integration, and prioritizing placemaking. Public space, land and water management, climate resilience, and sustainability are what begin to define value, rather than the realm of speculative capital. Community Land Trusts extend the sphere of conservation to include those who utilize land, rather than simply the land itself. Municipalities magnify the impacts of climate change, both environmentally and socially. Grappling with the reality of climate change means addressing both the technical problems and broader socio-economic impacts. Orienting the composition of communities toward long-term sustainable and climatically appropriate growth while also establishing a shared responsibility of investment into community well-being and sustainability enhances both the opportunity for investment within a community, as well as the opportunity for return. Conservation principles are strengthened when they apply to Community Land Trusts as they are applicable to both the land as well as the community that lives within it.
Panelists will walk participants through the collaborative process that was carried out to protect an 18th and 19th century African Burial Ground in Kingston, New York, including a novel youth-led site design and community engagement program. Participants will learn how their own organizations can play an appropriate role in helping put land back into BIPOC hands with long term protection on the land. This workshop will present the land protection tools and approaches used for this NY case study and will highlight lessons learned to help parallel efforts navigate the nuances of cross-cultural partnerships, especially around land sovereignty, transfer of ownership and long-term protection. The process of establishing an innovative conservation easement that prioritizes cultural conservation values will be the backbone of this workshop.