Build Community Power through Inclusive Design

December 20, 2021

Join us to create a more equitable public realm!

Lucid Project: Albany community design workshop in West Hill, Albany, NY. Photo: Shannon Straney

“Partnerships across diverse stakeholders — with community at the center — can be transformative.”

— Sandra Lobo, Executive Director, Northwest Bronx Community & Clergy Coalition; Neighborhoods Now partner since June 2020

Van Alen shares tools and resources that make it easier for residents to shape the places where they live. As a supporter, you help shift the power balance in city-making by putting communities at the heart of an inclusive design process.

Dark Matter University faculty member A.L. Hu (left) with Neighborhood Design Fellow Imani Gayle Gillison (right)

“The Fellowship not only immersed us in concepts and case studies of design justice — it gave the opportunity to put these ideas into practice, to support our community.”

— Steven Francis Koller, Neighborhood Design Fellow in Gowanus

Neighborhood Design Fellows presented their visions for the future of Gowanus at the culmination of a six-month curriculum, led in partnership with anti-racist design school Dark Matter University. As local advocates for inclusive design, the Fellows recently launched an action campaign bringing attention to a disinvested community center in the neighboring NYCHA complex, with the goal of reviving it for residents.

Lucid Project: Albany community design workshop in West Hill, Albany, NY. Photo: Shannon Straney

“The City is interested in the Lucid Project because it focuses on community empowerment and uplifting of historically marginalized voices.”

— Luis Roldan, Senior Planner, City of Albany, and Lucid Project: Albany partner

Community members are spurring transformational change by redesigning a public alley at the center of their West Hill neighborhood. Working hand-in-hand with the Van Alen team, including design studio The Urban Conga, this autumn residents kicked off the process by documenting their own stories and aspirations for what this space could become.

Ribbon cutting of Bed-Stuy Gateway BID’s 2021 Winter Wonderland, a Neighborhoods Now project. Photo: courtesy Wells Fargo

Neighborhoods Now paired us with skilled, socially conscious, and enthusiastic professionals who responded to our COVID recovery needs, enabling us to continue providing critical programming to our community.”

— Rachel Joseph, Director of Operations, Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation; Neighborhoods Now partner since June 2020

Thanks to generous support from Wells Fargo’s Open for Business Fund, we will continue supporting NYC neighborhoods hard-hit by COVID-19 through Neighborhoods Now. Launched in Spring 2020 in partnership with the Urban Design Forum, this ongoing project channels our network’s talent and resources towards community-led projects that strengthen neighborhood open spaces, local economies, and public health.

Van Alen staff at the National Mall, Washington, DC

Next year, we’ll apply our community-centered approach on the national stage…

We’re honored to join Beyond Granite — a program led by the Trust for the National Mall, National Capital Planning Commission, and National Park Service — to create a series of temporary commemorative works on the National Mall and around Washington, DC. Resulting in installations that reflect the diversity of the American people, our work begins with in-depth community engagement that elevates our nation’s underrepresented stories.

Join us this coming year to create a more equitable public realm, led by communities who are shaping their own future.

For more information, contact:
Stacey Anderson, Associate Director