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Design Matters - May 2021

Design Leverages Possibility 

When an organization wants to utilize its resources to the maximum advantage, they are conducting the action of leverage. Leverage is both the ability to hold power that has influence and the exertion of agency to control an outcome. It is from this space that the Collaborative operates to employ design as a tool for community transformation. Working towards this goal, our volunteers dedicate their talents and time to support local neighborhoods and projects. Advocating to bring new visions to their communities, our community partners are accessing tools to increase their ability to manifest their dreams. Thus, it is only fitting that Leverage is the title of the annual celebration of the Collaborative’s network and our collective portfolio of work.  

Thirty years ago, the Collaborative was founded by twenty activist architects looking to make an impact in their city. Our founders were inspired by a history of volunteerism within the local design community responding to real needs from citizens. Their ability to leverage their resources connected nonprofit community-based organizations looking to define their own built environment with the sweat equity of altruistic design volunteers through pro bono services. Using a community centered approach that emphasizes collaboration, these projects have served as prototypes to address many broader citywide issues.  

As we look forward to the future, we want to examine how design can best be deployed as a tool to encourage dialogue, investigation, and problem solving around the core issues that impact quality of life in Philadelphia. For the rest of this year, we will build on our history, challenging ourselves to expand the opportunities to employ design as a catalyst for equity. In the coming months, the Collaborative team is looking to offer new programs, services, and opportunities to continue our practice of bringing design services and community engagement techniques to real projects that are driven by our partners.  

To improve our allyship, our team and volunteers will be educating ourselves around new frameworks and perspectives towards equity outcomes and development techniques. With listening ears, we will be engaging our partners to assess how we can best support and build capacity of organizations that have completed our process as they continue the work to bring projects to fruition. Thinking strategically, we will be planning around methods to ensure we can continue to provide great services in local communities. Three decades of effort have demonstrated the impact design can have in changing community realities. We enter the next decade energized and ready to double down and keep focusing on all the ways design matters. 

To our Founders- thank you for having the vision and initiative to spark a legacy that has produced over 1,700 transformative projects.  

To our volunteers- you are the real force behind our continued success, and we appreciate your willingness to answer the call every time. 

To our community partners- thank you for your partnership, trust in our process, and willingness to both share your experience and vision while learning from our volunteers.  

To our fellow Philadelphians- you are the inspiration for all the work we do! We promise to stay committed to using our expertise and resources to continue to LEVERAGE possibilities to strengthen your communities through design. 

We invite you all to celebrate with us on June 3rd and for the rest of 2021!  

- The Community Design Collaborative 

Be The Force Behind Our Leverage 

Thirty years ago, a band of 20 volunteers committed to expanding the model of community engaged design met here in Philadelphia.  Inspired by their experience with the Regional Urban Design Assistance Team (R/UDAT) program, they stepped forward to offer other economically struggling communities access to pro bono design services aimed at neighborhood revitalization.   

Our current volunteer pool is 1,200 strong with representatives from the many intertwined disciplines that make an effective design team. It is up to all of us to nurture the Collaborative as a reliable resource for nonprofits and small businesses along neighborhood commercial corridors.    

Step up and be the force behind the Collaborative’s leverage. 

 makes the greatest impact - see who is already on board and act by May 14th to join them

Enhanced and regular ticket alternatives are also available

Founder Interview: David Hinson

David Hinson is a Collaborative founder and extraordinary individual who believes in community informed design. Here, David talks about how forming the Collaborative has influenced his career.  

In Celebrating our 30th Anniversary, our Founders have come back to talk about the impact of the Collaborative. Each week we are featuring a different interview on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.

Visit these links to see interviews to other Founders :

EQUITY TALKS: Community, Agency & Resilience 
Equity Talks: Community Agency and Resilience

Happy AAPI Heritage Month!  

Equity Talks: Community, Agency, and Resilience was the second public conversation in our Equity Talks series. Five of Philadelphia's Asian American community leaders, organizers, and scholars discussed the impact of planning and design on their various AAPI communities and the continuous work of cultural preservation to combat displacement, their current and economic collective power, and their legacy of resilience. 

Panel, Moderated by Sarah Yeung, Founder- Sojourner Consulting: 

  • Somaly Osteen, Community Development Specialist/Corridor Manager- SEAMAAC, Inc 

  • Fariha I. Khan, Ph.D., Associate Director, Asian American Studies Program- University of Pennsylvania 

  • Dave Kyu, Director of Programs- Asian Arts Initiative 

  • Nancy Dung Nguyen, Executive Director, Project Director for Civic Engagement & Community Defense- VietLEAD 

Resources & Events 
  • The Gotham Center for New York City History, at CUNY's Graduate School, is presenting an online course next month on Robert Moses and Jane Jacobs , taught by Stephen Petrus, a historian and curator at the LaGuardia and Wagner Archives, at LaGuardia Community College, CUNY, specialized in 20th century urban and cultural history. 
  • 5/20  HighGear Non-Profit Finance Seminar 
  • 6/9  2021 Preservation Achievement Awards – Purchase Tickets  
  • 6/22 Leveraging Legacy: 30 Years of Community Centered Design with Tya Winn hosted by the Athenaeum of Philadelphia  - Register 
  • 6/24 AIA Phila On the Rise Opening Reception + Exhibition f/ Collaborative Volunteers Bright Common and David Quadrini, AIA –Register 

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