Leveling the Playing Field: Enabling Community- Based Organizations to Utilize Geographic Information Systems for Effective Advocacy

Publication Type: 
Haydar Kurban
Makada Henry- Nickie
Rodney D. Green
Janet A. Phoenix
Conflict over urban policies is ubiquitous, reflecting the clashing interests, visions, and aspirations of myriad existing and prospective community stakeholders. The conflicts between condominium developers and existing residents, landlords and tenants, small business and transformative developers, owners and renters, urban planners and grassroots activists all are played out in the public arena. Blue-ribbon panels, congressional hearings, city council hearings, hard-fought election campaigns, neighborhood association meetings, and faith-based organizational briefings are examples of the venues in which conflicting goals are exposed. Entering this arena can be daunting for typically underresourced community-based organizations (CBOs), which often face well-established, well-resourced agents in these venues with interests that differ from grassroots residents. Fortunately, as statistical and mapping technology becomes simpler to use, it may be possible even for novice CBOs to engage effectively in urban debates and thus build a stronger base among their constituents for grassroots action in their own interests.