The Practice of Building Equity Through Design Thinking

Residents of the Lucero del Norte colonia work with [bc] to address stormwater issues. / Image: buildingcommunityWORKSHOP
The ASLA Environmental Justice PPN provides a forum for ASLA members involved in, inspired by, and interested in pursuing environmental justice through education, research, and practice. Throughout 2018, the Environmental Justice PPN has hosted virtual presentations with live Q&A, focused on issues most important to its members. All Environmental Justice PPN members are invited to participate in these monthly events, allowing members to expand their networks, and hear from design professionals who are playing an important role in addressing environmental justice. On August 16, Elaine Morales, Design Manager at buildingcommunityWORKSHOP [bc] joined the conversation on public interest design and equity. 

buildingcommunityWORKSHOP ([bc]) is a Texas based nonprofit community design center seeking to improve the livability and viability of communities through the practice of thoughtful design and making. We enrich the lives of citizens by bringing design thinking to areas of our cities where resources are most scarce. To do so, [bc] recognizes that it must first understand the social, economic, and environmental issues facing a community before beginning work.

Our diverse team employs public interest design methodologies to address these issues with an equity lens. Our practice leverages the diverse skill set of our team—encompassing architects, planners, urban designers, geographers, and policy specialists—to steward initiatives that engage communities, create platforms to discuss challenges, set priorities, and envision the future, whilst elevating underheard voices to celebrate and concretize community identity and building capacity for residents to drive decision-making in the sphere of design and planning. We organize our work around six core methods: analyzing, mapping, activating, informing, storytelling, and making.

A diagram illustrating this collaborative approach. / Image: buildingcommunityWORKSHOP

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