Tools for Community Power: Resources for Design Justice + Neighborhood-Level Organizing

This project began during an interdisciplinary studio taught by Rachel Berney and Julie Johnson at the College of Built Environments. The studio set about to examine resiliency in the Mt. Banker Transit Center given the area’s recent upzoning, which foreshadows tremendous change in the neighborhood. Designers Marcus Chaffee, Clara Cheeves, Fatema Maswood, Bec Nissen, and Lauren Wong responded with The Neighborhood Resilience Series, a set of short visual guides developed to support community organizing, capacity building, and material mobilization.

“As a group of landscape architects and urban planners, we are continually working toward models for truly participatory work that reflects our dream of facilitating community spaces that are not defined by real estate speculation and the whims of unjust markets. We seek transformative change on many scales and, in this project, sought out existing models of cooperative land ownership, cooperative economics, and other elements of community control to germinate ideas of alternatives.”

This booklet reminds us that no site is a blank slate, and includes research ranging from Coast Salish history to restrictive covenants that prevented the sale of property to non-whites.

The team also sought out historical information to combat the concept of blank development parcels; in Seattle we live and work on Duwamish land that reflects thousands of years of human settlement and complexity, layers that uphold and challenge all work that we do in the built environment. In producing these books, they considered how to make the matter of their professional training accessible and responsive to work happening on the ground, and how to build long-lasting collaborative relationships.

This booklet aims to equip community members with the language of engagement and ways to push against these processes if they aren’t being used for mutually beneficial goals.

This booklet explores some tools that community members can use to shape the landscape around them in order to support people vulnerable to real estate speculation and rising property values. 
This booklet explores some tools that community members can use to shape the landscape around them in order to support people vulnerable to real estate speculation and rising property values.

The neighborhood Resilience Series was published in Issue II of Extents. See the full Issue II: Materials + Matter here.

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