Images: Courtesy of South Bronx Unite

The Design Trust for Public Space, in partnership with South Bronx Unite will award three fellowships for the Power in Place: Building Community Wealth and Well-Being in Mott Haven-Port Morris project in mapping, community planning, and participatory design. The fellowship in mapping has already been awarded to Monxo Lopez from South Bronx Unite.

Building on a deep legacy of community organizing roots, Power in Place will make the case for community-prioritized use of land in the Mott Haven-Port Morris area. The project will explore the potential of the Community Land Trust  (“CLT”) as a model for public space and will create a mapping framework and a series of maps, develop a community-driven plan for this neighborhood and a communication toolkit to achieve community-desired outcomes.

A Community Land Trust (“CLT”) is a non-profit, community-based organization that acquires and holds land in perpetuity to preserve its long-term availability and affordability for housing and other community uses.

For the purpose of this call, we broadly define Public Space as space and buildings that the public sector owns, or the public has access to, and that contribute to the well-being of the community and the city.

Project Overview


The South Bronx is best known for its unique language of graffiti, street art, hip-hop, electro-boogie, salsa, among other world-class aesthetic movements. It is also home to a diverse community of committed residents, activists and thinkers with exceptional resourcefulness and ingenuity who sustained the area through decades of environmental injustice and economic neglect.

Mott Haven-Port Morris in the South Bronx is one of the city’s largest industrial areas, where power plants, waste transfer stations, and truck-intensive businesses have caused a health crisis.They face asthma rates eight times the national average. Recently, this waterfront community has experienced a considerable surge in new development. 12 market rate rentals and six hotels that will soon bring thousands of luxury residential units into this community, in which 38% of its residents and 49% of its children live in poverty, with an average median income of $19,454–the lowest in the state—and an unemployment rate more than three times the national rate.

Based on Mott Haven-Port Morris community’s history of creativity, generosity, and resiliency, Power in Place will explore the potential of the CLT model alongside mapping and planning activities to ensure that the area’s residents, business owners and workers have:
  • A place to continue to live and work in the area
  • A voice in the planning process
  • A means to develop financial equity, and 
  • The tools to realize a healthy and sustainable future for their neighborhoods

Project Background


In 2017, the Design Trust issued a Request for Proposals (RFP)/Call for Project Ideas, Public for All: Rethinking Shared Space in NYC, to affirm and ensure that New York City’s public realm remains truly public. Our 9-member independent jury selected South Bronx Unite’s proposal to consider the CLT model, create an asset map, and a community-driven plan for the rapidly changing Mott Haven-Port Morris neighborhood.

Key Project Activities & Deliverables


Engage the local community and stakeholders 
The project team led by the Design Trust and its Fellows, with support and guidance from community leaders, will plan and implement a comprehensive and open ended stakeholder engagement strategy, i.e., interviews, workshops, public forums, and formal and informal meetings. The multi-layered strategy will bring together the local community to identify assets, assess needs and desires and create a vision for public space in the area. The project team will also engage other public and private stakeholders in the area to understand opportunities and constraints for prioritizing community use of land, or requirements for giving or selling land to a CLT. The engagement with the local community and other stakeholders will build relationships to facilitate community-desired outcomes for public space and site control.

Create the Power in Place mapping framework and a series of maps
The project team will develop a mapping framework identifying assets and challenges for public space to make the case for prioritizing community use of land. The mapping framework and maps will present physical, demographic, social, economic, health and environmental characteristics of the area, and will identify opportunities, constraints, and requirements for the creation and use of public space.

Develop a community-driven plan
Utilizing the Power in Place mapping effort, the project team will research and analyze the physical and social conditions of the area; and working with the local community, assess and prioritize its needs and aspirations; and develop a plan to meet the shared goals. The Plan will provide a framework and content to create new and strengthen existing public space and identify and prioritize assets for community land ownership utilizing the CLT model. The project team will engage public and private stakeholders to realize the plan.

Communicate the Power in Place plan and the CLT model
The project team will develop a communication strategy and toolkit for a broad range of audiences to present the case for prioritizing community use of land in Mott Haven-Port Morris to City and State agencies; serve as an advocacy and educational tool about the CLT model; and share the Power in Place engagement, planning and empowerment process and its potential as a replicable model for other communities.

Deliverables will include: 
  • Power in Place mapping framework and a series of maps
  • Power in Place community-driven plan, including written and visual documentation and recommendations
  • Power in Place communication toolkit

Process deliverables may include documentation drawings, draft maps, memoranda from meetings, visual presentations, draft visual and written recommendations, and other forms of representations.

Fellowship Overview


What is a Design Trust Fellow?
A design-thinker. An instigator. A collaborator. And a champion of our values:
  • The cultural and democratic life of the city depends on viable public space.
  • Design excellence is the minimum requirement for all public space.
  • Social justice and environmental sustainability must guide public space design. 
  • Rigorous engagement with all stakeholders plays a determining role in the quality of public space.
  • Cross-sector partnership is vital to achieving and sustaining long-term change.

Design Trust Fellows are leading professionals in their fields or dedicated community advocates, and are chosen for their talent, expertise, experience, and strong qualifications. Fellows must have a demonstrated ability to work both independently and collaboratively, as well as direct experience producing deliverables similar to those stated in the Fellow Description.

The Design Trust process is open and collaborative. Fellows must work effectively with one another, the project partners, Design Trust staff, and community stakeholders. Fellows bring their skills and expertise to bear on the project, developing innovative responses to the city’s most vexing challenges and pushing for creative thinking. Together with the Design Trust, project partner, and community stakeholders, Fellows create unique design solutions that generate systemic or policy change for New York City’s public space.

Design Trust projects require significant time commitments from Fellows to work with multiple stakeholders, to develop implementable design strategies, and to produce final deliverables. Fellows are expected to devote approximately 1-2 days per week to the project for an approx. 9-12 month period. Stipends are awarded to the Fellow commensurate with prior experience.

Eligibility
Firm principals and sole proprietors are encouraged to apply with the understanding that the fellowship is time intensive and the compensation is modest. Professionals with full-time positions may apply if they have the support of their employers; recognition of firms as sponsors of the project can be arranged. Students are not eligible to apply, except for PhD candidates who meet the fellowship requirements.

All applicants must, at the time of their application, have the legal ability to work in the United States and must reside in the New York City area for participation in project meetings and events. 

Design Trust encourages people of all abilities, ethnicities, genders, national origins or ancestries, races, religions and sexualities to apply. Design Trust is also committed to accessibility and to working together with you to develop an accessibility plan.

Fellowship Descriptions


Note: The two Fellows described below will be joined by a third Fellow as the Mapping Fellow Monxo Lopez from South Bronx Unite. His responsibilities include: developing a mapping framework for identifying assets and challenges for community-prioritized use of land, and creating a series of maps presenting physical, demographic, social, economic, health and environmental characteristics of the study area, and opportunities, constraints, and requirements for the creation and use of public space.

Community Planning Fellow
Responsibilities
The Community Planning Fellow will lead the development of the Power in Place community-driven plan. Building on the project mapping effort and broad stakeholder engagement, the Community Planning Fellow will be responsible for leading:
  • Development and facilitation of a participatory planning process
  • Development of a community-driven plan for this rapidly changing neighborhood that sets forth a vision for public space in the study area to meet community-desired outcomes. The Plan identifies and prioritizes opportunities to create new and strengthen existing public space utilizing the CLT model
  • Strategies and recommendations to maximize the benefits for the area’s residents, business owners and workers, given the limited land and built resources available to the community

Fellowship Activities
Working with Design Trust staff, South Bronx Unite, and the Mapping and Participatory Design Fellows, the Community Planning Fellow will:
  • Devise an inclusive stakeholder strategy to bring together residents, business owners, workers and community groups to develop a shared vision, identify and prioritize needs and desired outcomes for public space in the area
  • Engage a broad range of stakeholders including developers and agencies to identify opportunities to create new or strengthen existing public space and to build relationships to facilitate community-desired outcome
  • Support the Mapping Fellow with research of the physical, demographic, economic, social, health and environmental characteristics of the study area and identifying data resources
  • Analyze the changing context (including historic and existing zoning, policies and plans) and its impact on public space, social capital and community assets and identifying opportunities and assets to create and enhance public space 
  • Research the existing and future (immediate and long-term) conditions of the study area; assess how new developments will affect the area’s public space and how it can inform approaches to creating/securing public space
  • Learn about the CLT model to understand its potential in building community wealth and cohesion, and delivering high impact public space in New York City
  • Develop strategies for the creation, operation and management of the area’s public space to navigate the longstanding residents, local community and new residents conflicting priorities, capitalizing on synergies and acknowledging dissent
  • Lead the synthesis of community-desired outcomes and prioritize identified assets for community ownership through the CLT model
  • Create a series of draft maps, diagrams, sketches and other visuals to analyze various area’s conditions and synthesize community priorities
  • Develop strategies for innovative programming, alignment and use of space to maximize the benefits, given the limited land and built resources available to the community
  • Develop recommendations for the Power in Place Plan and prioritize opportunities considering scale of impact, community need and desire, city’s priorities and other factors

Qualifications
Candidates should have at least three to five years of relevant work experience and graduate-level degree in relevant field, e.g. urban planning, city and regional planning, urban design, landscape architecture, architecture. Candidates should have worked on multidisciplinary projects related to neighborhood planning and community development, especially in under-resourced and diverse communities; have significant experience in stakeholder engagement and graphically communicating complex issues for a broad public audience; working directly with and presenting to community audiences and working on collaborative projects or in teams. Strong spatial understanding and proficiency in GIS and Adobe Creative Suite (or other graphic software) required. Preference will be given to candidates with knowledge of alternative models of land ownership and affordable housing development. Fluency in Spanish is a plus.

Participatory Design Fellow
Responsibilities
The Participatory Design Fellow will be responsible for leading:
  • Design of the stakeholder engagement process, methods and tools and will support the project team in building consensus among stakeholders on shared vision and desired outcomes 
  • Development of the identity and graphic system for the project to effectively communicate and deploy design-thinking with diverse audiences throughout the Power in Place process

Fellowship Activities
Working with Design Trust staff, South Bronx Unite, and the Mapping and Community Planning Fellows, the Participatory Design Fellow will:
  • Devise an inclusive stakeholder strategy to bring together residents, business owners, workers and community groups to identify assets, assess community needs and desire and develop a vision for public space
  • Engage a broad range of stakeholders including developers and agencies to identify opportunities to create new or strengthen existing public space and to build relationships to facilitate community-desired outcome
  • Develop a graphic system for the project that community members can easily adapt and use
  • Plan and facilitate workshops and other types of engagement; co-lead presentations, and interface with a broad range of stakeholders, including multiple public agencies and community groups 
  • Develop outreach materials and support the project team with the visual presentation in workshops and meetings
  • Develop visual tools for the community and stakeholder engagement process to encourage creative, meaningful, and diverse participation
  • Support the Mapping and Community Planning Fellow in the visual communication of planning concepts and maps
  • Support the Mapping Fellow in creating and visualizing a mapping framework that presents layers of assets, opportunities, constraints, requirements, and connections and accessible to a broad range of audience
  • Develop concise graphic visualization of concepts for a general audience while looking at existing work in the field
  • Use the project graphic system to refine and communicate the community-driven plan to a broad audience, with emphasis on the City and State
  • Design the Power in Place communication strategy, plan and toolkit to:
    • Present the case for prioritizing community use of land in Mott Haven-Port Morris to City and State agencies
    • Serve as an advocacy-educational tool on CLTs
    • Share the Power in Place engagement, planning and empowerment process and its potential as a replicable model with other communities
    • The Fellow will be expected to produce written, mapping and graphic work, lead presentations, and interface with a broad range of stakeholders, including multiple public agencies and community groups

Qualifications
Candidates should have at least three to five years of relevant work experience and a degree in Graphic Design. Candidates should have significant experience in stakeholder engagement and graphically communicating complex issues for a broad public audience; working directly with and presenting to community audience and working on collaborative projects or in teams. Preference will be given to candidates with knowledge in or an expressed willingness to learn computer-based GIS platforms (both proprietary and open-source), as well as web-based mapping platforms (Mapbox, CartoDB, etc.), and those who have experience working in the public realm and with under-resourced and diverse communities, and at multiple scales, ranging from report design and maps to websites. Experience with JavaScript language, and its mapping-centered and design-centered libraries and formats (leaflet, jquery, and d3.js, geojson, topojson); and fluency in Spanish is a plus.

Fellowship Benefits


Design Trust Fellows receive benefits that advance their immediate and long-term career growth. Participation in a Design Trust project gives Fellows the opportunity to explore an urban issue in-depth and have a tangible effect on New York City’s public realm. Additional benefits include:
  • Introductions to and opportunities for significant engagement with policymakers, civic leaders, and professionals from other disciplines
  • An honorarium, approximately $10,000, depending on the scope of work and experience of the Fellow
  • Participation in speaking engagements associated with the project or related topic (both Design Trust events and programs organized by peer organizations)
  • Opportunities for recognition in local and national media coverage of the project
  • Credit as a Design Trust Fellow for life, including:
    • Recognition on the Design Trust website with biographic information and the opportunity to highlight awards and latest news.
    • Highlights of your professional milestones in the Design Trust monthly newsletter
    • Invitation to become a member of the Fellows Forum, an alumni organization and its events
  • Honorary Membership in Design Trust Council, the leadership circle of the Design Trust for Public Space, for a year, including invitations to Design Trust Council events.
  • Opportunities to consult in the future on the next phase of the project or on this topic

How to Apply


Candidates should send a single PDF (maximum of 10 pages and 10 MB), including a cover letter specifying the Fellowship category for which you are applying, a resume or curriculum vitae, and a sample of relevant work to fellowship@designtrust.org.

The deadline to apply is December 7, 2017 at 5 PM.

Design Trust and South Bronx Unite will conduct interviews jointly. Interviews will be scheduled in December 2017. Please note: candidates under consideration will be contacted by e-mail. No phone calls to Design Trust, please.

Selected applicants should be available to begin work the week of January 8, 2018 and remain available part-time through December 2018.

South Bronx Unite


South Bronx Unite is a coalition of South Bronx residents, organizations, and allies working together to improve and protect the social, environmental, and economic future of the South Bronx. They established a CLT, the Mott Haven-Port Morris Community Land Stewards, in 2015 to promote pathways to meaningful self-determination for the South Bronx.

Design Trust for Public Space


The Design Trust for Public Space is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the future of public space in New York City. Our projects bring together city agencies, community groups and private sector experts to make a lasting impact–through design–on how New Yorkers live, work and play. Our work can be seen, felt and experienced throughout all five boroughs–from parks and plazas to streets and public buildings.

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Power in Place: Building Community Wealth and Well-Being in Mott Haven-Port Morris is made possible with public funds from the National Endowment for the Arts and New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the NYC Council, and with support from the Design Trust Founder’s Circle, including Hugo Barreca, Agnes Gund, Kitty Hawks, Sophia W. Healy, Camila Pastor and Stephen Maharam, Claire Weisz, and Andrea Woodner.
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