"Region: Planning the Future of the Twin Cities,'' is an impressive new policy textbook, hot off the University of Minnesota Press, that surveys the state of the metropolitan area and offers prescriptions for smarter growth and reducing racial and economic segregation. The book, co-authored by metropolitan governance experts Myron Orfield and Thomas F. Luce, Jr., belongs on the desks of Minnesota policy enthusiasts everywhere. With its colorful maps showing racial and income disparities, and intriguing overlays featuring such factors as travel times and environmentally sensitive areas, the book also works as a coffee-table conversation starter. Orfield is a law school professor and he and Luce are directors of the Institute on Race and Poverty at the University of Minnesota. An unveiling and book-signing event Thursday evening, featuring a panel discussion on the issues raised, is set at Magers & Quinn. Orfield is among our advisers at Growth & Justice and has been a leading force in the state for stronger efforts at regional planning and containing sprawl, with special focus on the damaging effects of de facto economic and racial segregation, since his days as a state legislator in the 1990s. Joining the authors for the forum will be Meg Tuthill, the new council member for Ward 10 in Minneapolis; Dave VanHattum of the nonprofit organization Transit for Livable Communities; and Jesse Mortenson of the nonprofit MetroIBA, which supports independent businesses in the Twin Cities.
On another front in the fight for justice and integration, a 30-year-old civil rights organization, Fund for an OPEN Society, is moving it's leadership and headquarters to Minnesota. The new executive director of the group is Caty Royce, an experienced progressive leader from Minneapolis who headed the Community Stablization Project, was a leader for Catholic Charities and served in the Peace Corps. Royce says "she is convinced that we must attack residential segregation at the same time we address school segregation,'' and that the much deplored "achievement gap in education is just part of a much broader and more complex racialized opportunity gap.'' The website for Fund for an OPEN Society is in the process of being updated but Royce can be reached at email@example.com. Royce cites john powell (lower-case for the name is his preference), founder of the U of M's Institute on Race and Poverty, and his call for equalizing access to "structures of opportunity,'' as an inspiration for her group's work.