Report from PLUS2

Disrupting.jpgOn June 10, 2016, the Leadership for Urban Renewal Network (LURN) held their annual Planning and Land-Use Strategies Summit (PLUS2) geared towards addressing analytical thinking and collaboration around issues related to urban areas, community building, and innovation. Arts for LA co-sponsored the event, and the arts & advocacy were embedded throughout the day. This year’s theme ‘Disrupting the City’ attracted a diverse arrangement of speakers and issues including but not limited to: city planning, food systems, art and gentrification, housing, and architecture. During the summit, each panel emphasized these two themes: to continuously challenge the status quo while leaning on a supportive community that understands the importance of affordable housing in cities. 

The first session,” The Creative Class & Gentrification: Art and Culture as the Means,” was presented by Umberto Crenca, artistic director and founder, ASB220, which offers artists opportunities to live, work, exhibit and/or perform in Providence, Rhode Island. Crenca’s inspiration for creating an inclusive artistic environment is based on the belief, “we’re all creative. Art is where we find identification in each other.” Crenca was successful in implementing affordable spaces as an integral part of the community by collaborating with community members. Crenca is devoted to arts advocacy work because, “you can ensure quality by providing opportunity.”

In another session, Carmen Rojas, PhD, CEO, The Workers Lab, spearheaded the discussion “Catalytic Philanthropy: Piloting and Scaling Ideas that Disrupt the Status Quo.”  Workers Lab invests in creating scalable and self-sustaining solutions that improve conditions for low-wage workers. In her remarks, Dr. Rojas encouraged other non-profits to invest c4 dollars towards progressive political campaigns to shift the political landscape for local workers and invest in business model training to support employees and offer networking opportunities. Rojas strives to shift the employer’s mindset from, “less an emphasis on transactional and more a transformative relationship.”

Rudy Espinoza, Executive Director, LURN,  overall outcome of the event, “it was important to create a space where we can discuss new concepts and feature leaders we don’t hear from too often and to convene people from different sectors so they can meet in a casual setting.” One of Espinoza’s goals for PLUS2 attendees was to provide ample time to process and dialogue with one another. Espinoza has begun planning for next year’s PLUS2 event at which he intends to explore “issues of ownership in the city - who owns what? How do we ensure we distribute capital appropriately? How do we reclaim neighborhoods?”

LURN is comprised of professionals dedicated to supporting sustainable communities by developing solutions to fight poverty, build sustainable economies and resilient communities. Find out more at

Read the report from PLUS2 2016