In 2016, Design Trust for Public Space created the
Equitable Public Space Fellowship to support the next generation of urban
designers, architects, landscape architects, planners, and innovators in
solving complex public space challenges in our global city. The Fellowship seeks to both
incorporate marginalized voices and perspectives into public space design, as
well as offer a platform to help understand and strengthen equity standards
within the organization, its programs and project work.
As the 2018-2019 Equitable Public Space Fellow, I worked to advance efforts on projects aimed at using public
space to amplify the voice of the voiceless. I contributed significantly
to Opening the Edge: Phase II as the Fellows team manager and
helped coordinate community engagement and related programming. In addition, I
supported the team submission and presentation at this past year’s Municipal
Arts Society Summit. In the spring, I assisted Design Trust staff with various El-Space Toolkit media content, El-Space pilot assessments,
and general programming.
I had the privilege of benefiting from many lessons learned, advice and strategies from past Equitable Public Space Fellows. At our bi-weekly Program Equity meetings with Design Trust staff, I also listened closely and engaged in dialogues that centered on taking a step back to review how equity plays a role in relation to day-to-day execution and output of projects and programs. These conversations, along with several others on the emerging, yet relevant topic of design justice influenced me to reflect on how I could better contribute to equitable outcomes from the perspective of the Fellowship.
For my independent research, I chose to look at how Design Trust exemplifies its commitment to equity and equitable outcomes in its general programs, projects and processes, with regards to its a)priorities, b)actions and, c)resources; specifically looking at an overview of how commitment is reflected in the organization's methods, decision-making, organizational work and the Fellowship Program itself.
Some of the questions asked included:
My inquiry resulted in an assessment diagram outlining the various levels of commitment tailored to the work and mission of Design Trust, and also identified missed opportunities, lessons or trends for the Design Trust to use in future activities.
Adopted from Mark Sanborn’s “The Encore Effect”, I used the “6 levels of commitment” as a framework for Design Trust to reflect and think more strategically about strengthening gaps in its existing processes and creating room for new opportunities. The Sanborn diagram builds cumulatively on each level starting from the formation of an idea, acquiring knowledge and testing pilots, to reflection and reinvestment to ultimately innovating and creating standards.
Levels of Commitment
In this enriching experience, I am thankful for the support from the Design Trust’s Program Committee as well as the Board of Directors. As Design Trust moves forward, it will become increasingly important to strengthen its core values and communicate not only how, but also how deeply committed it is in ensuring equitable outcomes.