Design for Good webcast series: episode three

Main street redux

Our third episode of the Design for Good webcast series, “Main street redux,” took place on February 17, 2017.

About this episode

During this episode, we were joined by design activists and community engagement strategists as they discussed creative placemaking strategies that keep the specificity of the site in mind.

The first video, below, features the first half of the webcast and the Resada Blvd. project, a collaboration between LA-Más (a non-profit urban design studio that helps underserved communities shape their future through policy and architecture) and LA Mayor Garcetti’s Great Streets Initiative, which addresses the lack of pedestrian-oriented streets and the need to spur social and economic vitality along this commercial corridor.

 

The second video, below, presents the second half of the webcast and the Identity Design Research: East New York, a collaboration between AIGA New York and The Local Development Corporation of East New York, that demonstrates the importance of design research and community engagement processes in low-income urban areas that have been shaken by major demographic changes and new social housing investments.

 

About the panel

  • Elizabeth Timme, co-founder of LA-Más
  • Nat Gale, principal project coordinator at the Los Angeles department of transportation and former director of L.A. Great Streets
  • Megan Marini, co-founder, 3x3 Design
  • Jonathan Jackson, creative director and co-founder, WSDIA
  • David Frisco, vice president of AIGA New York and adjunct associate professor at the Pratt Institute
  • Bill Wilkins, director of economic development, Local Development Corporation of East New York

Highlights

Attendees learned about how to leverage local city government grants and initiatives in community outreach plans, to engage low-income communities to enable them to imagine their future, to build strong neighborhood identity through placemaking and inject pedestrian life into asphalt jungles, and ultimately, to show design's role in shaping our cities.

  • About city government understanding design:
    • “The visual vocabulary of the Resada Blvd. project awoke others in the city. This pilot program helped us recognize the value of investing in design organizations and community organizations, it trigger[ed] more investments into the San Fernando valley, which was not a progressive transportation environment,” said Nat Gale.
  • “Design professionals brought into the equation became the silver bullet: because not only were we able to produce visual materials, it was comprehensive, had great texture, it was impactful, and meaningful. Remember, this was done in real time as the rezoning of our community was happening. We wanted those businesses to be stakeholders into this process. This project gave them a baseline understanding on what was happening,” said Bill Wilkins.
  • About designers’ potential impact in cities:
    • ”“From the chapter perspective, the materials we created not only served the community for which they were designed, but the tools became useful as the coalition started to organize outside of East New York, as shown in demonstration in front of the steps of City hall. it helped them make their presence more visible,” added David Frisco.

Additional resources

  • Identity Design Research: East New York impact report
  • Resada Blvd. case study
  • On how designers can access funding opportunities: Nat Gale recommended looking into elected officials, who are typically easier to approach with their discretionary funds, as well as Departments of Cultural Affairs. Bill Wlikins suggested reaching out to economic development corporations in cities, states, and towns with budgets that are tied to community relations.

Learn more about AIGA’s Design for Good webcast series.

The Design for Good webcast series is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, with additional funding provided by IBM.