Reflections From the 2021 Gentrification Conference

Dear Community,

We did it! Our fourth annual gentrification conference has come and gone. After months of planning and meeting (so many meetings), 540WMain and City Roots Community Land Trust put together a hybrid conference for which we are extremely proud. The months and weeks leading up to the conference are almost a blur of anxiety and excitement and the closer we got to the big day (April 10) the more nerve wrecking things became. This roller coaster of emotion is par for the course for any one in the realm of event planning and I am so thankful that all the hard work and planning came together in the end.

Clarissa Uprooted – April 9th

Our April 9th in-person event in collaboration with the The Center for Teen Empowerment (TE) was our first ever to be held in person since before the pandemic and it was surprise! We spent the evening at the Douglass Auditorium at 36 King Street and were even able to live stream the event via Facebook for the world to see. This extra special feature was the icing on the cake for what turned out to be a powerful documentary film and talk back panel. Having elders of the Clarissa Street Reunion Committee in the same room as the community was a history making moment. I learned so much from the documentary and to be able to hear directly from folks that grew up in the Clarissa Street neighborhood back before urban renewal tore through the neighborhood was a powerful testament to the theme and purpose of this years conference. I know I am not alone in excitement to see how TE continues to expand upon this important inter-generational initiative.

Resisting Gentrification – April 10

On Saturday April 10th the virtual part of the conference went off without a hitch or glitch. I was surprised at the number of folks that tuned in via zoom first thing in the morning for our community meet and greet. We had folks joining us from the southern tier, Boston, NYC and Berkeley. I would say trying to simulate the best parts of gathering in-person is always top of mind for me as an event organizer and program developer. Even though virtual can never completely replicate the in-person experience the level of increased access and ability to connect with folks all over the world is the most fun part for me. I think that some version of hybrid is here to stay for us as we begin to plan future conferences.

Our keynote speaker and interview with Gus Newport was truly the highlight of the morning session and we look forward to bringing Gus back to Rochester to share more of his dynamic life with our community.

Our afternoon breakouts received rave reviews and the action, research and activism that was  outlined by our break out session leaders is truly worth going back to replay. Thank you to Dorian and Dorothy Hall, Justin Murphy, Rochester – Democratic Socialists of America, and City Roots Community Land Trust for all of your work and community action to make Rochester accessible to all and promote development without displacement.

Thank You! 

To all staff, planning committee, volunteers and every individual that contributed to the success of this year’s event. This conference could not taken place without the support of every single person. Putting on this scale of an event is truly a team effort.

Lastly, I couldn’t close out this post without thanking our sponsors that helped us financially to make this year’s event happen. You can learn more about the 2021 sponsors here.

Community Champions

Community Partners              Community Supporters

Did you miss the conference? Or need a replay?

The conference materials are now updated and available for future reference and review as a standalone self-guided course with over 8 hours of content.  You can access all of the modules and recordings by visiting

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