From Community Engagement to Community Investment

by Deb Guenther, FASLA

The Ecology of Partners / image: © Mithun

The Landscape Architecture Foundation Fellowship for Innovation and Leadership was established to “foster transformational leadership capacity and support innovation to advance the field of landscape architecture.” It is an opportunity to dedicate the equivalent of three months’ time over the course of one year to nurture emerging ideas. I am honored to be one of the six current fellows. The cohort is discovering many overlapping interests, shared agendas, and mutually reinforced ideas in our work. Consequently, we’ve been thinking about ourselves as a collective—exploring multiple dimensions of the same cultural thread, like the different chapters of a book.

I am exploring the dimensions of community wealth building, defined here as “a systems approach to community development that produces a reconfiguration of institutions and local economies on the basis of greater democratic ownership, participation, and control.”

Specifically, this work focuses on shifting standard practice from community engagement to community investment by building long-term relationships between designers and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color)-led, community-based organizations.

To better understand shared values and differences between designers and BIPOC community leaders, I have created this short, anonymous survey. Through this survey I hope to learn about the ways these groups could increase collaboration to support community investment approaches to the design of the built environment.

You are invited to inform this work! The survey will be open until March 6, 2022. Please feel free to share with others—landscape architects and community-based organizations.

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Seattle has declared 2010 the Year of Urban Agriculture

image:  Designing for Urban Food
image: Designing for Urban Food

Seattle has declared 2010 the Year of Urban Agriculture in the city as a way to explore and expand on its vibrant culture of community gardening, farmer’s markets and regional farming .  It’s generating community-wide discussion.  The local radio station poses, “In many Asian countries over 60% of their food is grown in the City – what would that look like in Seattle?”  At the University of Washington’s College of the Built Environment  landscape architecture students organized a community charetteto explore design ideas for city farming.

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