Resisting imposed solutions
Resisting solutions imposed from the outside
While it was widely agreed upon that Roxbury needed help, residents were justifiably cautious about the prospect of a city-driven initiative. The dismal history of urban renewal during the 1960’s and 70’s caused it to be dubbed by some as “Negro removal” due to the overwhelming displacement of communities of color by white, upper-middle-income renters and homebuyers seeking opportunities for urban living. So, in the early 1980s when the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) approached the Roxbury community with the city’s comprehensive redevelopment plan, community members were justifiably angry that they had been excluded from the planning process. They let city developers know their opinions during the first meeting with the BRA.
Resisting the BRA, residents of Roxbury formed the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative (DSNI) in 1985. This was not the product of a few investors, rather it was redevelopment that involved door-to-door community organizing and challenging the usual development models that had already displaced thousands of low-income residents in other urban communities around the country. With their own comprehensive plan of neighborhood revitalization that included affordable housing, environmental clean-up, youth outreach, and other provisions for social sustainability, DSNI chartered new waters in neighborhood self-determination.