CNT Welcomes New Managing Director, Urban Resilience Shavion Scott

Curiosity is powerful. In that, it gives us permission to imagine the possibilities as opposed to being limited by what is. I remember as a child being a quiet observer with a lot of questions; aware of the distance traveled to access basic community amenities such as grocery stores or entertainment venues, while also discovering a love of nature because it was always accessible to me and provided for some of the best memories at holidays – or any day – with family. The natural and built environment, as well as the people who influenced how those spaces were created and utilized, intrigued me. Who knew I’d have a role in contributing to land use and infrastructure improvements – as well as broader quality of life issues – that help shape the experiences we have and the very people we become? It has been my privilege to embrace – and remain curious about – my own power and influence in order to empower others to do the same.

In my previous work and roles, the moment has often required a sense of urgency. And a cookie-cutter approach to the complex problems communities endure, just won’t do. Daily, people are grappling with real issues related to housing, jobs, food access, mental health, public safety and so much more – all social, economic and environmental, even political. There are systems and structures in place that literally erect barriers at every turn for the single mom who has to consider childcare, transportation, food and housing in her career choices; the man that takes pride in his work and creating a firm foundation for himself and his future family but cannot obtain or sustain a living wage, long term job option; seniors, who simply want to feel safe and have stable, sustainable housing for themselves that also builds generational wealth; the young person who wants to be seen and heard to have a voice in how their life and environment pushes and pulls against them in the best and worst ways; not to mention, the individual or family suffering in silence because they’re not connected to the resources or opportunities that can shift their entire circumstance. When you don’t see it every day, or experience it firsthand, you can easily forget how urgent the problem is.

In all of my experience, this opportunity to join the team at CNT feels like a convergence of my background, skills and interests – economic development, technology, sustainability, and equity through an environmental justice framework and lens – to go deeper. I attended math and science academies in my most formative years and was undoubtedly on a path to become an engineer, when I made the pivot to lean into the intersection of human behavior, the power of systems and data, and economic impact. Collective impact work – anchored in the ideology that we are stronger together than any one of us on our own – has proven the power of community, commitment, and collaboration. As a planner, consultant, and advocate at such a critical juncture when social and environmental justice issues are so pronounced, I’m excited to be able to approach this work in a new way – it’s so important, so urgent, and we all have a role to play.

To think about how economic, social, and environmental issues impress upon one another, we must take action on them simultaneously; and, for the natural and built environment – as well as the human experience of those – this is that opportunity. Who will you meet today that enlightens or inspires you to solve for today’s most pressing issues? What table will you then invite them to sit at to have a voice on issues that impact them or those they represent? And how do we productively disrupt deep-rooted, systemic barriers that harm?

We have the power to transform communities and make them work for everyone. That’s what right now calls for.

I look forward to walking in the call and purpose that we each uniquely possess and the journey ahead. Let’s get to it.

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