SLS Resource List: Equitable and Sustainable Development


The Center for Serve-Learn-Sustain aims to help students create sustainable communities, where humans and nature flourish in the present and future. One SLS Priority area concerning sustainable communities is Equitable & Sustainable Development, focusing on how environment, economy, equity and society shape large infrastructure projects.

SLS Resources

Equitable & Sustainable Development Framework & Key Concepts

Historic Old Fourth Ward Park: Histories and Contexts

What is Infrastructure? Key Concepts and Questions

What is Infrastructure? PowerPoint Presentation

Additional Resources

SLS recommends these resources for delving deeper into the topic of Equitable and Sustainable Development.


Focus on Atlanta and the BeltLine

All Eyes on Equity: How nonprofits are mobilizing to solve Atlanta's structural inequities

Atlanta routinely ranks among the nation's most unequal cities.  But across the city, organizations and funders have found new momentum to change the narrative, and the unequal systems.  

Atlanta’s BeltLine: A Gentrified Path

This article outlines some of the gentrifying effects of the BeltLine and activists’ attempts to push back against them.

The Atlanta Beltline: From Vision to Reality

Join Ryan Gravel of Sixpitch - whose GT master’s thesis launched the BeltLine; Odetta MacLeish- White of TransFormation Alliance; and Michael Bryan, Georgia Tech student and TransFormation Alliance intern for an engaging talk and conversation about the launch and evolution of the BeltLine and a call to action for students to engage with communities in advancing the BeltLine’s original vision of thriving, connected communities.

The Atlanta Map Room: Documenting the Connections and Disjunctions between Civic Data and Lived Experiences in the City

This article shows how Georgia Tech’s Map Room is providing civic data on gentrification pressures related to the BeltLine.

Beltlining: Gentrification, Broken Promises and Hope on Atlanta’s Southside

This extensive report by Atlanta’s Housing Justice League and Research|Action Cooperative is a detailed exploration of the impact of the BeltLine in different Atlanta neighborhoods. The report gives recommendations for mitigating future gentrification and displacement based on lessons learned from recent history.

Building the City We Want to Live In

An older TED talk by Ryan Gravel about the aims of the Atlanta BeltLine.

Citing Equity Issues, Founder of Atlanta BeltLine Leaves Board

A discussion with Ryan Gravel in which he gives his reasons for resigning from the BeltLine Partnership.

Editorial: The Atlanta Beltline: A train off its tracks

A short article about the range of gentrifying forces that have resulted from the Eastside Trail.

Gentrification in Atlanta: Old Atlanta vs New Atlanta

A talk by Atlanta City Council member Andre Dickens about gentrification in Atlanta.

How an old loop of railroads is changing the face of the city

Ryan Gravel’s TED talk about the Atlanta BeltLine.

Putting the Brakes on Runaway Gentrification in Atlanta

This article outlines the increasing unaffordability of the BeltLine area and some proposed efforts to counteract it; it also discusses Dan Immergluck’s “Sustainable for Whom?”.

Recreational Infrastructure: Using the Quarry Lake for Leisure

This article argues that the Westside Park reservoir would most benefit the community if used for recreational as well as practical purposes.

Sustainable for whom? Green urban development, environmental gentrification, and the Atlanta Beltline

This paper examines the effect of the Beltline on housing values within one half mile. From 2011 to 2015, depending on the segment of the Beltline, values rose between 17.9 percent and 26.6 percent more for homes within a half-mile of the Beltline than elsewhere. The implications for housing affordability and neighborhood change of projects like the Beltline, and associated policy questions, are addressed.

A Tale of Place-Taking

This piece focuses on development in Grove Park – the historic inequities of Bellwood Quarry and the unfolding situation of gentrification and inequitable development that has arisen with the extension of the BeltLine and the planning of Westside Park.

Talking Headways Podcast: The New Atlanta Way

Features Odetta MacLeish White of the TransFormation Alliance. A discussion about displacement pressures along the BeltLine, the history of segregation in planning, and big changes in advocacy and equity in the Atlanta region.

Take a tour of the Atlanta Beltline Eastside Trail

An auditory guided tour and interviews with some people on the BeltLine. I’m not sure how helpful this is without a visual element.

Two years in, has the Atlanta Beltline’s Westside Trail met expectations?

This article uses interviews with three residents to analyze how the Westside BeltLine trail has impacted the surrounding area, especially in comparison to the Eastside trail.


Large Infrastructure Projects in Other Cities

How Denver Became One of America's Most Walkable Cities

Denver now gets to claim its place as one of American's most walkable cities, coming second only to New York City.  The city has recently experienced a growth in employment in its downtown area, causing city planners to spring into action to reduce the need for driving in its downtown area and attempt to make travel routes more bike- and foot-traffic friendly.  This article opens up a conversation about how to make a city feel more walkable, and what Denver's planners are looking to do in the years ahead.

Why Indianapolis is a test case for a fairer form of gentrification

Indianapolis’ Cultural Trail has sparked a $1 billion increase in adjacent property values. This article describes how a local arts collective is aiming to remain in place and provide affordable spaces through a land trust.

5280 Trail aims to be Denver’s answer to New York City’s High Line

Officials in Denver are learning from similar infrastructure projects’ effects and are hoping to mitigate gentrification by “tailoring each section to its neighborhood” in planning the 5280 trail.

Political Will and Innovative Finance - Key to Making African Smart Cities a Reality

In Cape Town, city leaders meet to discuss how to plan the city to be able to handle the influx of people by considering smart, efficient design.  As the smart infrastructure market grows by more than 20% a year, world leaders look into how their cities can finance this kind of innovation.



Greening without Gentrification: Learning from Parks-Related Anti-Displacement Strategies Nationwide

Identifies common displacement effects of green infrastructure projects and suggests strategies to combat them.

How to Build a New Park So Its Neighbors Benefit

This article covers a variety of infrastructure projects – the High Line, Los Angeles River revitalization, the BeltLine – and examines new projects that are implementing “parks-related anti-displacement strategies” in an effort to “green without gentrification.”

Where Gentrification Leads, School Desgregation Follows

In New Your City, gentrifying neighborhoods show a new interesting trend in classrooms.  When a diverse group of children learn together, there is higher academic achievement, a reduction in racial prejudice, and an increase in civic engagement than if children learn in a homogeneous socio-economic environment.  Read about what New York City is doing to encourage racial and socio-economic diversity in its public schools on CityLab.​​


Extreme Storms & Climate Justice

"Hurricane Florence and the Displacement of African-Americans Along the Carolina Coast"
This article from the New York Times discusses how feats in environmental engineering leading to economic development along the now vulnerable Carolina coast ultimately caused African-Americans to lose land they had occupied since the Civil War.

"10 Years Later, There's So Much We Don't Know About Where Katrina Survivors Ended Up"
Laura Bliss from CityLab shares the effects of Hurricane Katrina on thousands of evacuees who faced crime and poverty after demolition of public housing in New Orleans, giving readers foresight into what may happen as a result of Hurricane Florence.

"Why some people never evacuate during a hurricane, according to a psychologist"
In this Vox article, Brian Resnick explains the various circumstances and complex reasoning that causes many to ignore hurricane evacuation orders and then offers strategies for improving evacuation rates.