The Curb-Cut Effect

Everyone benefits in a society experiencing the Curb-Cut Effect. First documented as the response to the advocacy of people in wheelchairs, these sidewalk indentations turned out to benefit many:  those pulling suitcases on wheels, pushing babies and young children in strollers, bikers, workers with large racks making deliveries, and many others.  The Curb-Cut Effect is a vibrant illustration of how laws and programs designed to benefit vulnerable groups, such as the disabled or people of color, often end up benefiting all. That creation underscores a foundational belief: we are one nation, we rise or fall together.  

Without equity, there can be neither progress nor prosperity. Despite years of politicians insisting otherwise, the laws of economic gravity have always run in reverse. Opportunity doesn’t trickle down; it cascades out and up.

The Curb-Cut Effect, in its essence, asserts that an investment in one group can cascade out and up and be a substantial investment in the broader well-being of a nation -- one whose policies and practices create an equitable economy, a healthy community of opportunity, and just society.

"Equity: Not a Zero-Sum Game", by Angela Glover Blackwell, author of "Curb-Cut Effect", published in Stanford Social Innovation Review, Winter 2017.

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Angela Glover Blackwell, executive director of PolicyLink and former Obama advisor, has a long history of using policy for progressive, radical, change. Blackwell says this is a moment to protect and resist, certainly, but also a time to return to the roots that are our local neighborhoods, our cities, our suburbs and build something better with them. People must make demands of the system if the system is to change, says Blackwell. Plus, an F-Word from Laura on why Putin's alleged crimes are a distraction from his real ones.

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Equity Speaks Podcast: Angela Glover Blackwell & Sasha Blair-Goldensohn

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Hosted by Shaibya Dalal of PolicyLink, this episode features Angela Glover Blackwell in conversation with Sasha Blair-Goldensohn, a Google software engineer and disability rights activist from New York City. They discuss the moral imperative of making cities accessible to all, the power of the “Curb-Cut Effect” as a frame for transit advocacy, and the promise of universal design as a way forward for city planning in New York and beyond.

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