Suburban Operations Simulation

During this period we also continued our regular training efforts in local communities across the state. One of the more innovative approaches came from students from Harvard Divinity School, assigned to work with us on what was called “field work”. They developed a simulation exercise which gave participants a week-end long experience of training. It was called a Suburban Operations Simulation (SOS), dealing with land use and housing and the ways in which patterns of institutional racism may or may not develop in a suburb over a course of twenty years. Participants, in roles, made decisions about how and where increasing populations of color were to be received in the communities of a metropolitan area. Carefully designed to represent actual statistics from the Boston area, the simulation involved people in both urban and suburban locations making decisions about housing, schooling, and other services to be provided to the increasing populations. It was a remarkable piece of work, and clearly became a “change instrument” for many who participated in it. There are still people around who will testify to its motivating power.

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