Neighborhood Design Fellowship: Gowanus
This work is part of Gowanus Action, an umbrella initiative; learn more about it here.
Gowanus residents work toward the future they imagine for their community.
Offered in partnership with Dark Matter University (DMU), our Neighborhood Design Fellowship: Gowanus is a paid, six-month program for up to 12 Gowanus residents — designers and non-designers alike — to work toward the future they imagine for their community. In 2021, our first cohort of Fellows considered ways design and art can make Gowanus a more equitable, inclusive place, and are sharing what they learn with local officials and the wider community.
Gowanus Houses Resident Association
Who We’re Working With
Our Space Gowanus
Together, the fellows are collaborating on an action campaign to bring attention to an underinvested, underutilized community center part of the Gowanus Houses NYCHA complex. With Dark Matter University, the fellows drafted and assembled this pamphlet outlining the history of disinvestment that has plagued the community center and their visions for the future of the space. In October 2021, the pamphlet was distributed at our inaugural Van Alen Block Party and displayed in large format on the street-facing windows of our office in Gowanus. The fellows are now currently planning the next phase of their action campaign.
Hear from Dark Matter University
Q&A with Steven Koller, Neighborhood Design Fellow
Q&A with A.L. Hu of Dark Matter University
Q&A with Nupur Chaudhury of Dark Matter University
May – Jun 2021
- Learn about local inclusion and equity challenges by talking to neighbors, business owners, community groups, and public officials, among others
- Learn from DMU faculty about ways to support social justice through design
- Study design projects that advance equity and inclusion in NYC and the US
Jul – Aug 2021
Make a Plan
- Using prototypes and community feedback sessions, create a list of design ideas and recommendations to support social justice in Gowanus
Sep – Oct 2021
Put Ideas into Practice
- Collaboratively bring design ideas to life with Van Alen and DMU faculty
- Working with Van Alen and DMU, apply design recommendations toward the redesign of Van Alen’s office into public space that serves the community
- Share work with the wider neighborhood for more feedback, and engage community members in ways that can advance fellows’ efforts forward
Interested in learning more about design justice? Check out these resources recommended by Dark Matter University:
Race, Architecture, and Tales for the Hood | Bryan Lee | TEDxTU
“POWER TO THE PEOPLE: Empowerment and Disruption in Community Engaged Design” by Toni L. Griffin