Transforming Conflict to Empower Community and Decrease Displacement in Gentrifying Communities


Amy Minzner, Community Science

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July 28, 2020

Conflict Transformation (CT) is an approach that grapples with and seeks to address deep social conflicts in addition to visible disputes. It has shown success in deescalating violent conflict and creating lasting systems changes across the globe, as well as in US communities. While gentrification does not typically result in violent conflict, it does share similarities with these conflicts including clashing cultures, seemingly intractable problems, and the need for changes in underlying systems and structures. CT holds promise for helping communities navigate the challenges of gentrification in ways that bridge differences, facilitate communication, and further equity. The principles of CT highlighted in this work illuminate how existing development and equity-focused strategies can be combined to foster true transformation–reframing conversations to encourage truth-telling and acknowledgement of racial disparities. These conversations can be combined with opportunities to build relationships between existing and new residents that can shift the dynamics of power in the community, creating the support needed to lead local government to adopt collaborative governance practices and targeted anti-displacement policies and programs.