As a culmination to this study, our team developed a design framework through Black womxn’s narratives that considers both the principles and actions to inspire how we build more inclusive approaches towards design and planning processes.

At large, this framework seeks to unpack how the design profession can better leverage community voice to develop place-based design standards. In order to create better design solutions, we need to diversify our principles, values, and thinking. The root of change begins with developing interventions within standard workflows. Core to this notion is the importance of elevating design process over outcomes as a framework for design justice. We must acknowledge that expertise in the field extends beyond those with accolades. A wealth of knowledge is held amongst Black womxn and other communities that navigate systematic challenges on a daily basis. We hope this framework sparks acknowledgment of Black womxn’s presence and contributions to our cities, and pushes the principles to ground our approaches moving forward to build a more just society.

Design Principles

These four principles serve as a conceptual framework to build more mindfulness and conversation around the values driving each project. Within a hyper product-oriented environment, it is crucial to build space for deeper questioning around what drives our work, and who is it truly for? Visually represented and read from the bottom-up, this diagram emphasizes that the most impactful work grows out of a firmly rooted purpose.

GROUND Intention

Establish consensus and collective understanding before collaboration unfolds.

HONOR History

Build strength and resilience through honoring, reconciling, and healing from past successes and struggles to develop more informed solutions moving forward.

RETHINK Ownership

Recognize that the work is larger than ourselves, our teams, or a given site. Understand planning and design as a tool co-create liberatory spaces with communities.

UPLIFT Underrepresented Voices

Challenge standards of expertise to build teams that represent diverse narrative, thinking, and identity to help foster more innovative design solutions.

Design Actions

The following actions build off design principles to provide space to allow us to envision what a future looks like where Black womxn are thriving. These four themes as depicted below serve to illustrate actionable strategies that demonstrate affirming spaces for Black womxn in the future. Through this research, we practice in this realm of Black futurism as exploratory. This implies that there is no one way that Black futures can be predicted, however, there are elements necessary for Black futures to thrive.

RECLAIM History & Legacy

  • INVEST in preserving and building key physical sites of Black & Indigenous histories.
  • SUPPORT past and present movements into future developments.‍
  • MEMORIALIZE communal journeys in physical spaces—honoring both the successes and struggles that are rooted in place.
  • INTEGRATE history and education into the public realm to foster more accessible platforms for knowledge sharing.
  • LEVERAGE new technologies to bridge the gap between neighborhood history and future progressions.

TRANSFORM Health & Wellness

  • Build flexible spaces to integrate diverse practices toward health and wellness.
  • Bridge approaches to encompass mental, physical, and spiritual well-being.
  • Elevate spaces that promote connection to the earth to promote self-care and healing.
  • Honor evolving practices of religion and spirituality within the Black community.
  • DESIGN public spaces and connections that promote physical activity and movement.

Leverage Economic Collectives & Collaborations

  • REINFORCE existing spaces, programs, and organizing efforts.
  • DEVELOP infrastructure to promote collaborative approaches towards communal wealth building.
  • Integrate scaled economic models inclusive of micro-businesses and informal pop-up ventures.
  • ENVISION long term interventions that promote generational growth over short-sighted gains.
  • Embed culture into economic strategies to innovate more sustainable and place-based solutions.

ELEVATE Arts & Culture

  • UPLIFT local artists and creators as key leaders to understand culturally sensitive dynamics in place.
  • Support local artists in developing works that bring the community together and foster connection within the public sphere.
  • INCENTIVIZE interventions that activate underutilized spaces to foster momentum around community-driven investment.
  • promote cultural spaces that support the past, present, and future preservation of place.
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