The current economic crisis has made more apparent the growing numbers of people struggling to meet their basic needs—food, housing, healthcare, work with dignity and education. Corporations and government leaders claim that the solution is an economic development model that hands power and public resources over to private entities in the name of job creation.
In Baltimore, this development model takes the form of massive government hand-outs to companies like Wal-Mart and developers at tourist hot-spots like the Inner Harbor. While wealth is consolidated in the hands of a few at the top, workers at these Poverty-zones are denied living wages, healthcare and access to education. This is not unique to Baltimore. Poverty-zone Development runs rampant throughout the country in both city-centers and rural areas, as controlling forces advocate a kind of development that disregards public needs with empty promises of economic growth and job creation. At the same time, local community struggles highlight the need for an alternative model of development that respects human rights, maximizes public benefits and is sustainable. And to that end, participants in those struggles are using innovative methods to organize, develop leadership, and build power.
The Fair Development Conference is a gathering meant to increase our understanding of these challenging times, connect our various fronts of struggle, share movement-building strategies and develop a collective vision for “Fair Development.” The United Workers and its community partners are calling on grassroots organizers, low-wage workers, academics, faith leaders, artists, activists, students and teachers from across the country to join us in exploring the possibilities for Fair Development in our communities.