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Designing for Equity

Updated: May 29


Image: Dan and Zora Avila

Effective public space is one that is equitable. It is designed to accommodate the needs of all members of a community. Designing these spaces is what we as landscape architects are challenged with; to serve a diverse user group without settling for a homogeneous design that does not thoughtfully serve anyone. “To be seen, to live with dignity, and to be connected” is the motivation of the Black Lives Matter organization as articulated by co-founder Alicia Garza. It can also serve as a framework for the creation of equitable public space. Here is a collection of precedents and literature we are consuming to better understand that framework:

As outlined by Kofi Boone, good design starts with good questions. Here are several we can look to:

-What if landscapes were approached as a way to help all people and places ‘to be seen?’

-What if landscape processes were deployed to help us all ‘live with dignity?’

-And what if, through our continued and shared resolve to building together a more just society, we resisted those forces that would pull us apart and instead engaged in the work with the intent of being ‘connected?’ Usually, this amount of thought and care is only put into space with great significance; memorials, important monuments, high traffic, or high visibility parks. But what if we started to bring this level of importance into every project that is designed? After all, isn't one's own backyard a place where someone should feel seen, live with dignity, and feel connected?

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