1. The Working Assembly

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    The Working Assembly is a branding and creative agency helping companies grow, shift, and evolve.

    We get excited about powerful ideas that have the ability to shape brands.

    We provide boutique quality at scale with an integrated approach, focusing on end-to-end brand building inclusive of strategy, verbal and visual identity, content and creative communications.
    Our team is successfully challenging the traditional rift between advertising and design by bringing siloed disciplines like branding, campaigns and digital into a holistic brand presence.

    We specialize in key inflection points—from helping companies take a thoughtful next step, to a total strategic reinvention.

  2. Barretto Consulting

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    Barretto Consulting provides organizational and fundraising strategies that help nonprofits build their capacity, ensure their sustainability, and maximize their impact.

    Joseph J. Barretto is a management strategist with 20 years of experience in the nonprofit sector. His expertise includes organizational and fundraising strategy and leadership development, with a focus on building the capacity and ensuring the sustainability of organizations to maximize their impact.

    Joseph’s focus on providing nonprofit boards and leaders with the management tools and strategies necessary to strengthen their organizations was honed by his experiences in various management roles, including Deputy Director at the New York City Anti-Violence Project, Deputy Executive Director at Hudson Guild, and Executive Director at The DOME Project, an education-focused nonprofit serving at-risk youth. In addition to consulting assignments in organizational assessments and strategic planning initiatives, fundraising campaigns, and board development, Joseph facilitates leadership and fundraising workshops and trainings to nonprofit managers and board members.

    Joseph is an Affiliate Consultant at Community Resource Exchange and sits on the Selection Committee for The New York Community Trust Nonprofit Excellence Awards. He is Chair of the Board of Directors of the Filipino American Human Services, Inc., and serves on the National Advisory Board for Public Service at Harvard College and the Advisory Board of Trestle Gallery.

    Joseph holds a BA from Harvard College and an MPA degree from Columbia University’s School of International & Public Affairs.

  3. di Domenico + Partners

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    di Domenico + Partners, LLP, was established in 1981 as an interdisciplinary studio to provide services in Architecture, Landscape Architecture and Urban Design. John di Domenico and Andrew Berger, the studio’s partners, bring leadership and are personally involved in each of the studio’s projects. Together with the Associate Principals, Senior Associates and Associates, a collaboration of all studio members approach design as a learning process through the application of sustainable design, innovative technology and an exploration of materials applied with an attention to craftsmanship.

  4. Leroy Street Studio

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    Leroy Street Studio is an award winning architectural studio inspired by innovation in design, the craft of construction, and a collaborative approach that places our clients’ needs at the center of the design process.

    Leroy Street Studio is a dynamic and collaborative architecture studio: we value experiences over objects, open dialogue over ego, authenticity over artifice.

    We define architecture as a process of restless discovery and collaboration. We define success as a carefully designed space that can be truly felt, lived, and experienced.

    We are a communal practice—from the artists and makers who surround us every day as colleagues and collaborators, to the clients and communities that we design our work with and for.

  5. Asian Americans for Equality

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    Asian Americans for Equality is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization based in New York City. Founded in 1974 in Manhattan’s Chinatown to advocate for equal rights, AAFE has transformed in the past four decades to become one of the city’s leading housing, social service and community development organizations. 

  6. Think!Chinatown

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    Think!Chinatown was started by Chinatown neighbors that got to know each other through community events. Now, we’ve grown to a network of dedicated volunteers from a broad spectrum of professional backgrounds: urbanists, artists, journalists, lawyers, architects, designers, tech specialists, photographers, poets… The one thing we all have in common is that we love Chinatown!

  7. Buro Happold

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    Buro Happold is an international, integrated consultancy of engineers, consultants and advisers, operating in 26 locations worldwide, with over 70 partners and 1,900 employees.

  8. Neighborhoods Now: In Conversation with Yin Kong + Thomas Yu

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    We are excited to continue our Neighborhoods Now initiative with Asian Americans for Equality (AAFE) and Think!Chinatown in Chinatown and Banana Kelly in the South Bronx. Additionally, we expanded our partnership with Fourth Arts Block in the Lower East Side. These working groups will re-energize outdoor spaces to support community programming and cultural revitalization.

    These next few weeks, we will be rolling out interviews with the representatives of each organization to learn more about their history, some neighborhood insights, and what they hope to achieve through Neighborhoods Now. Check out our first feature below with Yin Kong, Director of Think!Chinatown, and Thomas Yu, Co-Executive Director of AAFE. Leading our Neighborhoods Now Chinatown working group, they aim to develop a proposal adapting Forsyth Plaza into an open-air market supporting local Chinatown businesses and cultural groups.

    Van Alen Institute (VA): Tell us a little bit about your organization.

    Thomas Yu: Asian Americans for Equality, or AAFE, was founded nearly five decades ago by local residents and activists who rallied for racial justice and equal opportunities in Chinatown and for all communities in need.

    Yin Kong: Think!Chinatown (T!C) is an intergenerational nonprofit. We’ve been growing steadily and rapidly since we started about four years ago. Our aim is to overcome barriers of community organizing where socioeconomic factors, language, and cultural barriers create challenges for immigrant communities’ autonomy to make decisions in their own neighborhood.

    VA: What types of work has your organization been involved in and what are some issues that this community still faces?

    TY: AAFE advances the lives of low-income, immigrant and minority New Yorkers through social services, affordable housing development, economic opportunity, and advocacy. Our core communities, such as Chinatown, still face disinvestment from the City for fair share of resources, diminishing affordable housing, economic impact from pandemic, lack of access to capital, poverty, and racial discrimination.

    YK: Led by myself and Board President Amy Chin, T!C’s Chinatown Arts Week produces several cultural events throughout the week, all of them free to the public. By presenting grassroots Chinatown artists and emerging Asian American artists together in a collaborative partnership, we hope to bring the generations together and connect with a wider arts audience. With the pandemic, there has been both increased need and increased attention and support for our community. Our output in the past year has sharply increased, and we need to build our organization so it can continue to do this work.

    VA: What makes this neighborhood special?

    TY: Chinatown is the spiritual and cultural core of one of the largest Chinese American communities in the Western Hemisphere.

    YK: It not only serves the local residents, but also a greater API community who finds a sense of home in the neighborhood. In this difficult time, it’s been wonderful to see how the greater community has supported the neighborhood to ensure the survival of our collective cultural home. Once businesses or cultural organizations are gone, that cultural knowledge goes with them.

    VA: What are some neighborhood spots that are most important to people in this community?

    TY: All our public spaces are precious to our community, because we have one of the fewest open space ratios per person in the entire city.

    YK: Because we don’t have a ton of open space, our restaurants and small businesses are really the hotspots of our community. This past year, restaurant owners have been challenged with new requirements for outdoor dining, shifting health standards, and guidelines for design and construction — while already running low on cash. With our ‘Assembly for Chinatown’ project, we constructed fully subsidized, code compliant outdoor dining solutions for Chinatown restaurants. By taking on the design challenges of adjusting to post-COVID set-ups, we aim to protect these important cultural hubs throughout our neighborhood.

    VA: What are you hoping to achieve through this partnership?

    TY: [We want to] activate that scarce public space in Forsyth Plaza to be a cultural sanctuary for local residents and all New Yorkers.

    YK: We’re hoping to work on creating infrastructure for a night market in the plaza — financial mechanisms, marketing, design and construction of vending carts, administration of regulations — that will support a night market of food vendors along Forsyth. We fear inequity in the recovery period will result in accelerated displacement in Chinatown. By connecting mom-and-pop immigrant businesses and grassroots arts groups with the technical support of architects or the language and communication support of bilingual volunteers, we hope to give these businesses the tools they need to survive the economic crisis.

    About Neighborhoods Now

    Neighborhoods Now emerged from the belief that every New York City neighborhood should have equitable access to design resources that support community needs. By building interdisciplinary partnerships, the initiative supports local organizations leading their communities’ recovery. To date, Neighborhoods Now has mobilized more than 70 firms to channel pro-bono resources into eleven neighborhood organizations, resulting in strategies for safe reopening of civic and cultural organizations, creative programming in public space, and customized designs for restaurants and storefronts.

    The program is a collaboration between the Urban Design Forum and Van Alen Institute.