CKLDP Session 4: Community Engagement
Organized by: Sarah Killingsworth, Natasha Dunn
Location: Avenue Education Center 2804 Fulton Street Houston, TX 77009
Prior to CKLDP Session 4 on community engagement, the below preparatory readings set the stage for what was to come.
- AIA Advocacy’s Architect Action Center
- Activist architects: Designing social change
- Dick & Rick: A Visual Primer For Social Impact Design
Aptly hosted at the Avenue Education Center, the session began with a welcome and overview by Chris Laugelli of Avenue CDC, focusing on their work with affordable housing and especially with assisting homeowners with recovery after Hurricane Harvey.
The session focused on three areas of Community Engagement:
- Community Engagement through Public Interest Design
- Community Engagement through Political Activism
- Community Engagement through Political Leadership
The first speaker of the day was Adelle Main with University of Houston’s Community Design Resource Center (CDRC). Adele walked us through the various efforts undertaken by the CDRC and strategies to enhance the quality of life in low-to-moderate income communities throughout the Houston region through design, research, education, and practice. After a brief presentation, we jumped into our first charrette of the day focused on community engagement through public interest design. The scholars were divided into groups of 5-6, with each group assigned a community. Adelle and her team guided us through a process of conducting a Collaborative Community Design charrette to come up with solutions to the issued faced by each assigned community.
Our very own, Sarah Killingsworth was the second speaker of the day – moving the discussion from Community Engagement through public interest design into the realm of political activism. What is our role as a citizen architect? How can we engage as civic leaders? Sarah’s presentation focused on the AIA Advocacy’s “SpeakUp” training program. She walked us through the 5 elements of a legislative campaign and equipped us with the process and strategies which we would then apply to the last part of our session and our second activity of the day.
Following Sarah, Houston City Council Member, David W Robinson, At-Large Position 2, joined us for an informal and very informative discussion on his journey as a practicing architect and in the political world. Using his path as an example, we discussed how architects can take on civic leadership roles and build relationships with communities as representative leaders?
Finally, we ended the day with a very engaging “Speak Up” Advocacy Training Activity facilitated by Laura Carrera, Craig Garcia, Sarah Killingsworth, and Natasha Dunn. Immediate application of the process gave us a sense of what it takes to plan and coordinate a sensible campaign. An important take away is that well-intentioned campaigns may fall short of accomplishing the desired goal when efforts focus mostly on execution. This part of the seminar zeroed in on the impact of the preliminary organization, strategic recruitment of influential advocates and careful application of resources.