“Many of us entered this career because we see conditions of injustice. So what is the role we play as designers and planners to knock injustice down?” This is how Toni Griffin, an urban planner and professor of practice at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, framed Designing for Equity, a 2016 convening of designers, community organizers, developers, and philanthropists hosted by the Surdna Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. This article, by Danya Sherman, provides a synthesis of the convening’s major themes: the need to explicitly recognize racial injustice, to value community knowledge and experience alongside “expert” technical analysis, to empower affected citizens to call the shots, and to update design pedagogy to include principles of community engaged design. The convening highlighted how CED practice distinguishes itself from other project-based design work, with a focus on achieving systemic change through an emphasis on community capacity and empowerment.
Surdna Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, Project Row Houses, Emancipation Economic Development Council, Next City, Design Futures, Studio O, Piedmont Housing Alliance, Stantec, Designing Justice + Designing Spaces