Photo Credit: Noah Kalina

Photo Credit: Noah Kalina

Power to the People: Empowerment and Disruption in Community Engaged Design

Photo Credit: Noah Kalina

Photo Credit: Noah Kalina

In Summer of 2016, Toni L. Griffin of Urban Planning for the American City facilitated the Designing Equity convening – an event focused on community engaged design practice co-hosted by the Surdna Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. The day-long discussion included designers and community activists, and academics, as well as representatives of governmental and philanthropic organizations. In this blog post, Griffin reflects on the take-home messages from the session; distilling them down into what she calls the “essential ingredients” for advancing community engaged design and its impacts: 1) Power: recognizing where decision-making power lies, and where it’s absent; 2) Restoration: restoring acceptance of difference between and across practitioners and the communities we serve; 3) Ownership: building ownership of process, outcomes, and material and non-material benefits; and 4) Disruption: undoing the fundamental frameworks of “classism, power imbalance, environmental injustice, unconscious bias, and imperialism” that shape the unjust conditions that community engaged design aims to transform.

Organizations Referenced:

Surdna Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, Urban Planning for the American City

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