The Center will foster new ways of conceptualizing, structuring, and applying the CLT model that go beyond the provision of permanently affordable housing. Initial priorities of the innovation program will be to explore uses of the model in promoting security of tenure in informal settlements in Latin America and securing land for urban agriculture in the USA – and elsewhere.
The Center’s history program is tasked with maintaining and curating historical materials originally collected in the digital archive, Roots&Branches. This archive will continue to document the growth of the CLT movement in the United States, while devoting increased attention to the origin and evolution of CLTs in other countries and in Puerto Rico.
The Center’s research program will catalogue and disseminate both academic and non-academic studies that examine the formation and performance of CLTs. It will also evaluate the policy environment within which CLTs either prosper or fail to thrive.
Background: The Center for Community Land Trust Innovation is an outgrowth of Roots&Branches, an online archive launched in 2014 to track the origins and evolution of community land trusts in the United States. Over the next few years, this collection of historical documents, photographs, videos, and profiles grew larger and its focus grew broader, encompassing CLT innovations in the USA and CLT developments in other countries. Endeavoring to enhance the permanence and relevance of the website they had created, John Emmeus Davis and Greg Rosenberg began looking for a partner with international expertise to host Roots&Branches and to extend its reach. Land Alliance offered to play that role.
Community-led development on community-owned land, the strategy of equitable and sustainable development long championed by CLTs, is one of the “paradigms of participation and accountability” supported by Land Alliance for addressing these challenges. It was an easy decision for the Land Alliance’s leaders, therefore, to welcome into their mix of projects and programs a website dedicated to preserving the history of the CLT movement. But they decided to go further, working with the website’s creators to establish a new platform for researching current CLT practices and for exploring novel variations and applications of the CLT model. Hence the launch of the Center for Community Land Trust Innovation.
Part of the underlying rationale for the Center for CLT Innovation is the belief that community land trusts have much to offer the world’s 1.5 billion people who live as squatters on lands they neither own nor control. The Center’s leaders also believe that CLTs can be used more widely to secure reliable, durable access to food production sites, thereby contributing to healthy communities, local self-reliance, and the global community food system movement.