We are excited to announce that Kai Andersen has joined our team as WSCO’s new Equitable Development Director. He brings expertise and experience in urban planning rooted in community healing and racial justice. Kai helped develop a BIPOC livability workgroup for the Equitable Development Scorecard with The Alliance for Metropolitan Stability, and was a part of the The North Star Black Cooperative Fellowship, which focuses on Black American Cooperative Economics.
Check out Kai's interview or read the video transcript (below) to learn more about him and his work!
"My name is Kai Andersen (he/him), and I am the Equitable Development Director at West Side Community Organization.
We have a fresh, new lens on how we see urban planning. Urban planning is often learned in this linear and rational, more calculated and measurable stats-related story. I think that in terms of truth-telling, it’s really important to lift up our lived experiences, and recognize that everyone is important in terms of the planning process. It’s really important to hold development accountable, while also lifting up and going back to what real grassroots urban planning is about. For example, in the Twin Cities, I initially connected with WSCO when I helped develop a BIPOC livability workgroup with The Alliance for Metropolitan Stability. We were looking deeply about how Black and brown folks think of livability, as part of a transformative, centered, healing process.
As Equitable Development Director at WSCO, one exciting thing we’re working to put together in September is the shared education series about community wealth building strategies. We’re looking at what West Siders are saying around tenant ownership, cooperative housing and community ownership. Following the shared education series, another important piece of my work is to reshape and help the Scorecard team with some re-visioning. The scorecard is an equity tool that holds developers accountable to the community vision of the West Side. I’m learning tons about the history of the West Side and meeting a lot of great people who’ve been involved in the Scorecard work. We’re also starting our process for the West Side small area plan. The last time we did the small area plan was 2013, and so coming up by the end of 2023, we want to engage West Siders with what that plan will look like. We’re looking forward to the future, in terms of how we want to plan together on the West Side.
One thing I love about the West Side is the cultural treasures. There’s so much rich cultural heritage that has been passed down here, and that includes the work of the West Side Community Organization.
One thing that’s fun about my name is that in native Hawaiian language, it means ‘child from the sea.’ And so, one thing that’s important to me on my journey is self transformation, and to accompany others in this healing process of transformation. So, like water, I see my name and live in my purpose, going towards healing, transformation, and that type of remedy. Another thing I would say that’s just fun about me is my spirituality has very much evolved in music, I’ve been a hip hop artist since I was a kid, it was a way for me to get an education when I thought education was failing me. Although being a city person, I love the outdoors, I love hiking and sharing food with my neighbors, friends, and family."
Learn more about WSCO's Equitable Development work!