Social Justice Committee


The Social Justice Committee addresses issues of inequality in metro Atlanta through action and advocacy in planning. We provide planning-specific skills to community-led initiatives in areas that lack resources, power or voice. We seek to develop mutually beneficial partnerships with communities and raise social justice awareness at Georgia Tech.


The Social Justice Committee (SJC) of the Student Planning Association is comprised of graduate student volunteers from Georgia Tech's School of City and Regional Planning who are interested in giving back to the community. The goal of the SJC is to create opportunities for students to apply their education and experience through planning projects in underserved communities.

If you have any idea for a potential project or would like more information on how the Social Justice Committee can work with your community, please contact the chair, Kate Wilson at




(email contacts not current)

Brownfield Clean-up | Peoplestown

Students have met with Peoplestown Revitalization Corporation President Columbus Ward to discuss steps to address an open brownfield in the Peoplestown neighborhood that is currently being mined by residents for scrap metal, etc. The hope is that this project can address both the environmental hazards and training/possible employment for the people currently earning income from the site, while redeveloping the site. 

Falcons Stadium

What could this city and state do with $400 million of public money? (not cut education spending?)
What is the useful life of the current Falcons stadium? (probably more than 19 years?)
How does a state sanctioned entertainment/tourism "authority" remain accountable to the local community? (hold a meeting?)

Students worked with English Avenue residents & concerned citizens of Atlanta to address the development process currently underway for the proposed new Falcons stadium.

Atlanta, the epitome of the New South, is a city whose economic growth has transformed it from a provincial capital to a global city, one that could bid for and win the 1996 Summer Olympics. Yet the reality is that exceptional economic development of the region over the last twenty years has exacerbated inequality in some of the city's neighborhoods. 

This workshop and tour jointly produced by the Metro Atlanta Democratic Socialists of America and Georgia Tech's Social Justice Committee within the School of City and Regional Planning explored how the spectacle of development does not necessarily translate into equitable growth for urban communities. 

The event started with presentations by Columbus Ward, President of the Peoplestown Revitalization Corporation and Larry Keating, Emeritus Professor of Georgia Tech's School of City and Regional Planning. After the presentations, we took a guided tour of several Atlanta neighborhoods followed by an informal discussion and lunch at Manuel's Tavern. 

Click here to learn more

Crime Prevention through Urban Design | Home Park

The location of Georgia Tech, in the heart of Atlanta, makes the university and its students an integral part of the community. As one of our first projects of the fall 2010 semester the Social Justice Committee, with a stated objective to provide support to underserved communities, is working with a neighborhood adjacent to Georgia Tech to assist the community as a whole and students who frequent the area. 

Home Park is a traditionally low density residential area that has experienced an upsurge in criminal activity over the last few years. Using crime incident information and light monitor readings, the Social Justice Committee plans to create a report to determine if high crime areas correlate with inadequate light. The purpose of this report is to provide an analytical determination if increasing light intensity could potentially reduce crime in the area, with the ultimate goal of facilitating light fixture installation and improvement. 

BATTLE PLANS: the intersection of planning & community organizing

What does city planning have to do with movement building? Why should planners care about community organizing? What lessons can community organizers and planners offer each other about creating just development, policy, and distribution of resources in the urban environment?

This four-day symposium was an opportunity for planning students, planners, and community members to hear from community organizers on the intersections between planning and community organizing and to begin to imagine the creative, powerful partnerships that are possible—indeed, necessary—to create the cities we all deserve.


Screenings of The Atlanta WayNeighbor by Neighbor, and The Garden. Screenings were viewed in the Georgia Tech Student Center Theater


A conversation with community organizers: Dawn Phillips from Just Cause | Causa Just in Oakland; Lisa Adler formerly from the Bus Rider's Union / Labor-Community Strategy Center in Los Angeles; and Glo Ross formerly from FIERCE in NYC discussed the intersections of planning and grassroots action in their fights for justice in the city. Panel discussion took place in the Georgia Tech College of Architecture's Reinsch-Pierce Auditorium. 


A meet & greet with Atlanta-based groups and organizations engaged in current grassroots campaigns. This was also held at the Georgia Tech College of Architecture's Reinsch-Pierce Auditorium.

Community Garden | Pittsburgh Community Improvement Association

The first project undertaken by the SJC was a community garden for a vacant lot in the Pittsburgh neighborhood of Atlanta. Pittsburgh Community Improvement Association (PCIA) asked us to help research design options, operational scenarios and funding opportunities for the garden. After conducting preliminary research and meeting with other community gardeners in the city, we presented our findings to the neighborhood residents to obtain their feedback.  We then incorporated their input into our final recommendations for the layout and management of the garden. PCIA used this plan to create a management structure for the garden, guide the design and assist with fundraising.

The final report for this project can be downloaded here.

Click here to see pictures of when PCIA built the garden according to plan!

Site & Gateway Plan | Resources for Residents and Communities 

The second project we are working on is a site and area plan for Resources for Residents and Communities (RRC). RRC owns two vacant lots near Flat Shoals and Memorial and they asked us to help them create a site design that incorporates affordable housing. Also, the surrounding area is a prominent gateway to the Reynoldstown community yet it is plagued with vacant and rundown auto repair buildings. Thus, the project scope consists of creating several site and area design options that would achieve RRC’s mission of affordable housing while providing a framework for the gateway’s revitalization in line with the community master plan.

The final deliverable report for this project can be downloaded here.

GT Jam for Haiti | Benefit Concert for Earthquake Relief & Rebuilding

GT Jam for Haiti was a benefit concert for the relief efforts in Haiti organized by the Student Planning Association's Social Justice Committee. The SJC originally wanted to take a small trip to Haiti to help rebuild after the earthquake, but we soon realized that our individual impact would be small, but together we can make a big difference. The concert took place March 13th, 2010 and all of the proceeds were split 50/50 between CARE and The Fuller Center, two nonprofits headquartered in the Atlanta area that are heavily involved in the relief and rebuilding of Haiti. 

The SJC organized the support of a dozen other student groups on campus and raised the upfront costs of the concert from numerous sources, the largest of which came from the College of Architecture and its various schools, including the School of City and Regional Planning. We were able to secure free performances from several artists from a diverse set of genres and comedians. The concert raised a substantial amount of money for the cause and was featured on three television news stations, raising awareness to thousands more. 

For more information on the event, please visit

Subpages (1): People's Tour of Atlanta
Jesse Clark,
Sep 6, 2010, 8:27 PM
Jesse Clark,
Sep 6, 2010, 8:20 PM