Mike Fiala Reflects on Intersections 2015

by Alexandra E. Bodie   November/19/2015

The National Community Land Trust Network’s (NCLTN) 2015 National Conference, Intersections 2015, drew more than 300 professionals to Lexington, Kentucky October 19-22. “Intersections 2015 is the only national conference dedicated to permanently affordable housing and the creation and preservation of just, equitable and inclusive communities across the country and around the globe.” Learn more about the NCLTN and community land trust by visiting cltnetwork.org. Fortunately, our Land Trust Program Director Marge Misak, along with our Executive Director Lou Tisler, NHS staff members Liz Sanchez and Nichole Pulley, and NHS board member Mike Fiala were able to attend Intersections 2015 in Lexington. I was able to ask Mike a couple of questions about his experience.

WHAT CLASSES DID YOU TAKE? ANY SUGGESTIONS FOR FOLKS TO LEARN MORE ABOUT CLTS?

I took CLT 201, Inclusionary Zoning, Aging US population & CLTs, Fundraising & CLTs, and the Arc of Justice – Film & promoting the film. John Davis, dean of the CLT movement led the workshops on CLT 201, Aging Population & CLTs, and promoting the Arc of Justice film.
 
I suggest you go to John Davis’ website to learn about him and his long history, credibility and authority in the CLT movement. John Davis’ workshops were unique in that he tried to get everyone involved in solving a problem, for example…how can CLTs be helpful in the aging US population issue? But probably most relevant and easiest to highlight is that the Arc of Justice film is a pivotal effort to document an egregious injustice to African-Americans in undermining their efforts in Albany, GA to create and maintain the first CLT in the country. This film helps one understand the social justice roots and origins of the CLT movement in the civil rights movement, that is, African-American communities who understood land-access, wealth creation, stable communities’ are the basis of democracy, having a real stake in American life, and a basic necessity/right in America. This film assists in tracing the grassroots inspiration communities have found in the CLT model. The film is inspiring and reminds one that CLTs are about economic justice, mutuality and stewardship of the land and neighborhoods. It highlights the communal core of the CLT movement.

WHAT’S THE LAND TRUST COMMUNITY LIKE IN LEXINGTON?

Their major project was dealing with the state of Kentucky Transportation Department needing to develop a highway through Lexington that would level most of a poor low income, mostly African-American community called Davis Bottom. The Lexington CLT helped mediate a community solution that maintained members of Davis Bottom in affordable housing in the area and developed the remaining land to be long-term affordable.

WHY DOES COMMUNITY LAND TRUST MATTER IN CLEVELAND?

Cleveland is currently experiencing a resurgence in urban living. If we believe in economically diverse communities, then a CLT is a major tool by which to create long-term (‘permanently’) economically diverse communities. Otherwise, lower income families and renters will be priced out of their neighborhoods.
 
CLTs also assist in creating long-term housing stability in cities and suburbs by having an extremely low foreclosure rate. So, suburbs in Cleveland have seen the value of a CLT because the recent financial collapse and foreclosure crisis had a devastating impact on them.