ROOTS & BRANCHES is a digital archive of historical materials tracing the origins and evolution of the community land trust (CLT), as both a model and a movement. Our focus for now is on the United States, although homage is paid to the international precedents on which the modern-day CLT is based. The model pioneered in North America in the 1970s has now leapt across the seas to inspire fledgling CLT movements in Australia, Belgium, England, and France. In the future, we plan to add materials from these countries to those we have already collected from the USA.
This website is an outgrowth of a slide show created by John Emmeus Davis for the National CLT Network, entitled Roots of the CLT. That production has been revised many times since its debut in 2006. The latest edition can be found here, under Videos. Another seedbed for Roots & Branches is the opening essay in The Community Land Trust Reader, published in 2010 by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy. Entitled “Origins and Evolution of the Community Land Trust in the United States,” this historical essay has been updated, revised, and converted into a mini-ebook – which can be read or downloaded by clicking here.
Roots & Branches is a non-commercial labor of love by CLT practitioners who have volunteered their time to preserve essential pieces of the movement’s history for their peers – and for the next generation. We are not professional archivists or trained historians. Nor are we academics, intent upon presenting an “objective” view of the social landscape. We are advocates, celebrating what is special about today’s CLTs by connecting them to theoretical ideas, social experiments, political struggles, and unsung heroes of the past.
We are also gardeners, keeping alive the stories of people who had the conviction and courage to pioneer a new way of owning land and taking care of what is built or grown upon it. Rudyard Kipling once wrote: “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” We hope that is true, for this website is not only a compendium of photographs, videos, and documents; it also a collection of personal interviews and oral histories, preserving the stories of individuals who were instrumental in creating a model and building a movement.
Our plan is eventually to populate the section entitled Interviews with dozens of oral histories. You will discover, however, that only a few print interviews have been added to date. This section of the website is a work in progress – as is much of Roots & Branches. We have prepared the ground, laid out the paths, and planted a hundred perennials. There is still much to do, however, before this ambitious project becomes a thing of beauty.
That’s where you come in. We have searched our own computers, closets, and shoeboxes for all the mementoes we could find. Now it’s your turn. We invite your participation, not only in telling us what is mistaken or missing, but in helping us to gather materials that will make this website more accurate and complete.
A New Home for Roots&Branches: The Center for CLT Innovation
Roots&Branches was launched in 2014 to track the origins and evolution of community land trusts in the United States. This collection of historical documents, photographs, videos, and profiles continued to grow over the next three years. More and more materials were added to the archive. Its scope also grew broader, encompassing innovative CLT applications in the USA and the spread of CLTs to 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 nonprofit partner with international experience that might host Roots&Branches.
The Global Land Alliance offered to play that role. Headquartered in Washington DC, the Alliance is a “think-and-do” nonprofit working internationally to promote equitable and sustainable prosperity for people and places. Community-led development on community-owned land, the strategy championed by CLTs, seemed a comfortable fit among the Alliance’s other projects and programs addressing issues of land tenure, food security, and inclusive access to land and natural resources. It was a rather easy decision, therefore, for the Alliance’s leaders to welcome a website dedicated to preserving the history of the CLT movement.
Roots&Branches was moved to the online platform hosted by the Global Land Alliance in February 2018. The distinctive style and diverse contents of Roots&Branches were retained in their entirety, but the move precipitated a significant change. Not only did the Land Alliance become the host for this existing archive of CLT materials, however; it also became the home for a totally new program cataloguing the expanding body of international research on CLTs and supporting novel applications of the CLT model, with a special focus on informal settlements in the Global South. This program is named the Center for Community Land Trust Innovation.
To learn more about the Center’s purposes and priorities, please visit the Global Land Alliance at: http://www.globallandalliance.org