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Design Matters: November 2021

Photo by Brandi Alexandra on Unsplash

Gratitude and Perseverance

This season exudes the spirit of thankfulness and gratitude, something we are abundantly channeling in our office!

We have persevered many shifts and challenges over the last few years and are finally starting to feel settled.  This week we welcomed staff back into the office with a space upgrade. Our new layout will allow us to work comfortably and more collaboratively but with better air quality.  We also have space to grow as we continue dedicate ourselves to the mission. We’re back!  After nearly two years of virtual meetings, it will be nice to reintroduce in person interactions (masked up of course!). For all our volunteers and committees, this opens the ability for hybrid meetings and events in 2022!  We are looking forward to seeing you all again and utilizing our new hybrid meeting technology.

This year saw many transitions that came with their own challenges and opportunities. We are grateful to our nimble staff for staying committed to the goal of supporting our clients and volunteers.  We appreciate all our dedicated professional volunteers for their perseverance as we experienced some unanticipated timeline extensions.  Lastly, to our amazing clients, thank you for your grace and patience as we worked diligently to complete your projects. We have continued our practice of staying adaptable and listening and have learned so much more about practicing intentionality and staying community- focused when faced with challenges.

This month we are kicking off some major initiatives for the organization in hopes to continue to move forward and improve our service delivery. We are excited to be working with Inclusion Labs on our new strategic plan, to be unveiled in early 2022 and take this moment to reflect on how far we have come since our creation by our 20 founders in 1991 to guide us towards our fullest potential. Our team looks forward to engaging our network as we start our diversity, equity, and inclusion process to redefine goals and outcomes of our work.  Stay tuned for increased opportunities for trainings for our Corporate Champions, firm and individual volunteers, and supporters. Lastly, we will be rolling out our refreshed branding and a shiny new website in the new year with more functionality and resources for all!

As we approach the end of the year, we want to thank all of you who have subscribed to our newsletter, opened our emails, responding to our calls for support, given your time and expertise on a project, and attended our events this year!  You will see our invitations to recommit in the coming days.  As we finish out November, we challenge all of you to show gratitude to those in your community who inspire you!

- The Collaborative Team


Call for Proposals: Literacy Rich Neighborhoods

The Community Design Collaborative has received funding from the William Penn Foundation as a technical assistance provider for the Literacy-Rich Neighborhoods Initiative (LRNI) to support four community organizations in the development of conceptual designs: Village of Arts and Humanities, Mt. Airy CDC, Puentes de Salud, and the Indochinese American Council.

This program is through the Great Learning division of the William Penn Foundation and is designed to expand educational opportunities for children and families in Philadelphia, particularly where racial and economic justice issues are of concern. The four Philadelphia CBOs have been selected to embark on a 3- year process to engage community leaders and stakeholders around literacy and to design and implement playful learning opportunities in the communities.   

Interested Firms must complete the LRN Design Team Application form, to be considered for a 6-month conceptual deign process, the initial stage of the 3-year process. Chosen Firm teams will be considered for hire during the remaining 2.5-year planning and implementation phases, post the conceptual design phase by the CBOs under advisement of the Collaborative and William Penn Foundation.

The Farm At Urban Creators
Design Review Next Week

The Design Review for Urban Creators is next week, on November 18th. Urban Creators uses food, art, and education as tools to nurture resilience and self-determination in our neighborhood. The organization incubates and invests in local businesses, artists, growers, and organizers whose work will have a meaningful and lasting impact on the overall health, safety, and equity of our communities. 

Urban Creators Design Grant was for a conceptual design for a long-term sustainable master plan of an urban farm.  Eligible volunteers will receive an email this week to join us! 

Major Advances in the Legalization of Streeteries 

This week Council took a major step to legalize streeteries- outdoor dining in the right-of-way (ROW).  Our current client, StreetBoxPHL has been working hard to build a coalition and advocate for improvements to the ROW like these. Check out this white paper “Who’s Road Now?” that we supported. Contact StreetBoxPHL if your organization is interested in joining the coalition.  The Collaborative looks forward to the continued partnership to understand how we can best design for a more a user-friendly and inclusive right-of-way.  


Our Enduring Impact – Visible and Invisible  

We reconnected with many past clients and volunteers as the Collaborative celebrated three decades of spreading community-engaged design throughout Philadelphia and beyond. Tangibly, they took the form of 1,700 conceptual designs that spurred community-transforming projects like Concert Garden in Point Breeze (Phase 1 renovation, June 2021). [photo credit: Neighborhood Gardens Trust] 

The analyses, plans, renderings, and cost estimates that we produce are powerful, useful communication tools for conveying community visions. Yet, client nonprofits and design volunteers alike repeatedly recalled the softer, intangible, and enduring impacts of working with the Collaborative. 

They spoke about gaining a sense of empowerment and agency as well as making lasting connections and establishing partnerships. They described formative, inspiring experiences that helped them learn to listen closely and translate community input into solutions.  

Pro bono design services, despite their name, require steady funding. Corporate and foundation support is important but has never fully covered the day-to-day expenses involved.  

Now it’s your turn as individuals to demonstrate your personal commitment to providing equity in access to design services. Support the 2021 Annual Appeal to as generously as you can. 

Want to make a bigger impact? We have two options: 

  • Initiate a monthly gift. Your $5, $10, $25, etc. increments will steadily add up to a surprising year-end total! 

  • Join the Impact Circle.  Our leading individual donors prioritize the Collaborative and  make gifts of $1,000 and up.  See our 2020 founding group

Equity Talks #4: Indigenous Talks

Join us Monday November 29, 2021 | 3:30 - 5:00pm via Zoom 

Centering equity, The Collaborative has hosted four talks 2021 focusing on the intersection of race, design, and development.

Indigenous Talks is the fourth public conversation in this Collaborative Equity Talks series. In honor of Native American Heritage month and with deep respect to our First Nations, hear from Indigenous designers, scholars and leaders as they discuss the impact of design and development on their communities, land and water protection, as well as Indigenous futures.

Panel to be announced soon!

 Click Here to Register 

Featured Volunteer: Catherine Maldanato

Meet​ Elizabeth Class-Maldonado, our Featured volunteer for November. In a month where gratitude is the focus, we give thanks for our volunteers like Catherine. 

Elizabeth is the Senior Project Manager at  The Trust for Public Land, a role she aquired after working as Project Coordinator at Halley Donovan, LLC.  Elizabeth joined the Collaborative as a volunteer working on both projects for the  Allegheny West Foundation: the Conceptual Design for Creating a Sense of Place in the North 22nd Street Cooridor in 2018  and Re-imagining New Learnin Spaces: Conceptual Dsign for the Renovation of the Panati Rec Center Space in 2020.

Here are some insights Elizabeth has for us:

Why is design an important part of revitalizing communities?
Design gives the communities the power to take ownership and create the solutions they want to see.

What has been most surprising, rewarding, or fun about working on a project with the Collaborative?
The experience at the collaborative has been rewarding because I've had the opportunity to engage with students and learn from them the positive impact that design can have in their communities.

What do you love most about Philly? 
It's diversity and energy. 



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