Last week Community Powered Workshop, a local organization working to empower communities and break barriers of systemic injustice, held a virtual event to discuss and educate the public on what design justice looks like in Austin. We wanted to sponsor this event because we too believe that the community context of development is too often neglected, and we want to be a part of changing just that.
So here’s the low-down on design justice if you’re not familiar with the term: Design Justice seeks to use the design and development process to not exclude but to empower those living within the community being developed. We know all too well how historically underserved communities are shut out from the decision-making process, and the outcomes of those processes do not serve the needs and challenges of those who are directly impacted. Design Justice therefore is a tool we can use to bring greater equity to Austin neighborhoods. Design justice addresses gentrification, demanding that we redesign policy and the way that we view the power of the built environment. It addresses transportation access and mobility, demanding that we use inclusive design policies that allow members of previously underserved communities to have equal access to available resources. It addresses these issues, and so much more. But, we’re no experts. The webinar’s keynote speaker, Bryan C. Lee Jr., is the founder of the Design Justice Platform and organized the Design As Protest National Day of Action. If you want to learn more about his work check out this link.
At last year’s event we introduced our new design/build company, Constructinople. This year we got to introduce our new development company, Capital A Housing, which specializes in using Affordability Unlocked and public funding to build income-restricted and mixed-income housing all over Austin. We started as your classic civil engineering firm, but now we offer development services from soup to nuts – or just a la carte – to land-owners, builders, developers, and investors for projects large and small. Our principals are deeply engaged in Austin’s social and political fabric and have a deep desire to play active roles in community-responsive projects. We hope that in the coming years we will get to witness and be a part of design justice in Austin. Let us know if you want to be a part of it too!