Rural Placemaking Peer Exchange in Thomas, WV

Learn more about our work Activating work! 

On October 3rd and 4th, [bc] co-hosted a peer learning exchange with the Housing Assistance Council and Woodlands Development Group in Thomas, West Virginia to share knowledge and best practices for creative placemaking in rural communities. The peer learning exchange included a range of site visits, conversations with local stakeholders, and workshops. 

[bc], HAC and Woodlands were joined by rural affordable housing developers, artists, educators and local nonprofit organizations to discuss topics including funding, partnerships, program design, cultural equity and community engagement. 

This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. To find out more about how National Endowment for the Arts grants impact individuals and communities, visit www.arts.gov.

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The Cottages Win AIA Design Award

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AIA Dallas has announced its 2017 Design Award recipients, including the Cottages at Hickory Crossing. 

The Cottages at Hickory Crossing were completed at the end of February of 2017, and is now home to 50 residents. Located on a three-acre site less than a half-mile from downtown, the Cottages at Hickory Crossing provides permanent supportive housing and support services for the fifty most chronic cases of homelessness in Dallas. The integration of thoughtful design and robust services become a comprehensive approach to overcoming the chronic challenges residents face. To best understand the needs of future residents and service providers, the pre-design process included a combination of research, focus group charrettes, and a comprehensive engagement of stakeholders in the decision-making process. 

The design is comprised of fifty, 430-square-foot cottage residences. Individual homes encourage stronger personal identity while promoting a sense of community for residents. Homes are arranged in clusters of 6-8 units to create semi-public spaces or “micro-neighborhoods”.  The 4,000-square-foot support-services building is a series of small buildings under one “porch” roof. While this building forms an urban edge at the street, it maintains a level of porosity for ease of access by residents. A series of courtyards and a common green provide flexible space for activities, from urban farming to outdoor recreation, encouraging interaction between neighbors. 

The project seeks to serve as a model for sustainable urban living by maximizing open space, incorporating on-site rainwater collection and community garden space. LEED for Homes Platinum certification is expected to be completed in early 2018.

Beyond housing, the “wrap-around services” model and its architectural responses work to break the chronic challenges that residents face. 54 formerly homeless individuals living in permanent supporting housing facilities or shelters participated in a series of focus groups during the design process. Through collaboration with support services professionals and homeless individuals, the proposed design is an alternative typology that employs small and efficient individual homes for each resident. Transitional exterior spaces enable one to navigate through varying spatial experiences, from the more secluded porch to the shared courtyard, before reaching the common green.

Project Partners

CitySquare Housing
Communities Foundation of Texas
Caruth Foundation
City Square Housing
Metrocare Services
Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance
Dallas County
UT Southwestern

 

Project Consultants

Permitted Development
Henley Johnston & Associates
Design & Construction Solutions, LLC
Kadleck Associates
MEP Systems
Hocker Design Group
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Making Little Free Libraries

Read more about [bc]'s Little Free Libraries!

One year after five Dallas Police Officers were killed in Downtown Dallas, we celebrated the opening of five libraries in their memory. We hope you take a book or leave a book at one of the five locations. Read in Peace. 

Thank you to filmmaker Mark Birnbaum for volunteering his time to make this video. 

Growing Dallas’ Housing Options through Accessory Dwelling Units

What’s an accessory dwelling unit? How does it grow housing options in Dallas? Learn about Dallas’ affordable housing challenges, and how accessory dwelling units can be a great first step in addressing them.

In [bc]’s State of Dallas Housing Report - 2017, we recommended amending current regulations on accessory dwelling units (ADUs) as a strategy for expanding access to housing. “Promoting Housing Choice and Affordability: Exploring Accessory Dwelling Units” offers an overview of ADUs, and why they are a great tool in addressing Dallas’ housing affordability challenges.

After you read this, make sure you check out Opportunity Dallas’ third installment of their “To the Point” series: How "Granny Flats" Can Help Solve Dallas' Housing Affordability Woes.

 

ACD40 Conference Report

Learn more about the Association for Community Design and #ACD40!

Thank you to everyone who attended the Association for Community Design annual conference in June. ACD40’s theme, CommUNITY, sought to ignite conversations about the different models of practice that the field of community-engaged design uses to operate successfully. We envisioned a conference that would connect people from across the country who are working in and around public interest practices.

You can read our ACD40 Conference Report here. It contains a recap of the schedule, speakers, and sessions. It also includes results to the ACD40 Post-Conference Survey, the ACD 2017 Questionnaire, the Fellowship Survey, the Gender Equity Survey, and the Community Design Survey.

A big thank you to all of our funders, partners and supporters that made this conference possible: 

Funders - Enterprise Community Partners, Inc. & Surdna Foundation

Supporters - UT Arlington, College of Architecture, Planning, and Public Affairs, Mallory Baches, Jessica Blanch, Thor Erickson, Gilad Meron, Nikia Hill, Theresa Hwang, Mark Matel, Kevin Singh, Edward Orlowski, Stephen Goldsmith, & Alex Salazar

Venues - AIA Dallas / Dallas Center for Architecture, CallisonRTKL, Dallas Public Library, HKS, & Thanksgiving Square

Promotional Partners - AIA Austin, AIA Dallas / Dallas Center for Architecture, APA North Texas Chapter, LRGV AIA, SMU Design Council, & USGBC Texas

Volunteers - Bi’Anncha Andrews, Farida Rafique, Hannah Plate, Shani Dixon, Victoria Brown, [bc] Staff & Fellows, & Neighborhood Design Center

Equal Voice Network

Click here to read more about our Public Design Impact Initiative!

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Equal Voice Network amplifies the voices of local poor and working families, ensuring that they have a say in the decisions and discussions that affect their lives. The organization builds a network of advocates for families in the Valley from multiple partner organizations and all areas of expertise, including civic engagement, immigration, education, employment, housing, and health care. With this project, the Equal Voice Network hopes to address these issues with educational films that will be accessible to the audiences who need them most. We are excited to begin working with the Equal Voice Network and filmmaker Tony Pena in the Rio Grande Valley.

The Equal Voice Network’s beliefs include that:

  • Public policies should promote everyone’s ability to reach their fullest potential and advance the common good.
  • Families should have an equal voice in shaping policies and the future of their communities.
  • And they are committed to:
  • Protecting the rights and opportunities of all families
  • Holding elected officials accountable to the common good

Tony Pena is a local filmmaker who is bringing his design and film expertise to the project. His work will assist Equal Voice Network in finding creative ways to get across their message to the right audiences.

Together we will create two short videos that engage Rio Grande Valley families and residents on topics and policies that affect their everyday life. The subject of the first two videos will be Texas’ Senate Bill 4, going into effect on September 1, 2017. The videos will help residents understand and prepare for the implications of the legislation in their region. In addition to creating these videos, we hope to generate a process model for making similar informative videos as social, cultural, and political shifts occur, so that the Equal Voice Network can continue to effectively generate and distribute relevant content to residents of the Rio Grande Valley.

The aim of our PDII program is to use local design talent to increase the impact of  our peer nonprofit organizations and community groups. The 2017 PDII program selected two projects to complete in the calendar year. Read about our other project selection, Movimiento del Valle por los Derechos Humanos.

Artists Selected for Activating Vacancy Downtown Dallas!

[bc] is excited to announce the selection of two artist teams for Activating Vacancy Downtown Dallas, the duo Janielle Kastner and Ruben Carranzana, and a collective formed by Rickey Crum, Gray Garmon, Katie Krummeck, Edward Li, and Justin Childress. We're excited to spend the next few months working with them and the stakeholders of downtown Dallas to create exciting and fun works of art that challenge current notions of "public space" downtown. Please join us on Saturday, August 19th, 3 pm - 6 pm at 416 S Ervay, for a mini-block party to meet the artists and talk to them about their proposals. If you can't make it this week, we'll be having a presentation and feedback session the following Saturday, August 26th, 1 pm - 3 pm at 416 S Ervay. Read on for more information about the selected artists and their project proposals!

Ophelia Underwater. Features Zoe Kerr, photograph by Carson McCain Gray

Ophelia Underwater. Features Zoe Kerr, photograph by Carson McCain Gray

Janielle Kastner and Ruben Carranzana: Janielle Kastner is a writer, actor and performance deviser, whose social engagement work centers around the role young women play in shaping their communities, and vice versa. She was recently named Best New Playwright 2016 (Dallas Observer), and her plays include OPHELIA UNDERWATER (The Tribe, L.I.P. Service), FEED ME (Stella Adler Theatre/Playworks) and HEAVEN’S GATES, HELL’S FLAMES. Her social engagement work includes: PROJECT: BLESSING, one-on-one performance art, and PROJECT: GIRL, a trans-media installation based on interviews with young women from disparate communities. Additionally, she co-runs Dallas cult classic Shakespeare in the Bar. She holds BAs in Theatre & English from Southern Methodist University.

Shots Fired. Image courtesy of Cry Havoc Theatre

Shots Fired. Image courtesy of Cry Havoc Theatre

Ruben Carrazana is a local actor, director, and teaching artist. He co-directed SHOTS FIRED, a show exploring the Dallas police shootings with local youths. Ruben directs and assistant directs for JESTERS, theatre and film created and performed by adults with special needs. He has performed locally with Second Thought Theatre, Danielle Georgiou Dance Group, Dallas Theater Center, Undermain Theatre, Stage West, and Cara Mia Theatre. His play STACY HAS A THING FOR BLACK GUYS was recommended for the American Theatre Critics Association/Harold and Mimi Steinberg New Play Award, and his play SHE was awarded an Honorable Mention from the Southwest Playwriting Festival. He holds a BFA in Theatre from Southern Methodist University.

Together, Janielle and Ruben are two of the co-founders of performing arts incubator The Tribe, for which they were named 2016 Dallas Masterminds (Dallas Observer).

Project Proposal:
Together, Janielle and Ruben will transform an outdoor space in downtown Dallas, repurposing it with giant, individual, original blessings written by young women in the Dallas community (ages 12-18). First, they will draw upon their devising experience and lead young women through the creative process of writing a “blessing” for their city (a short, powerful, irreligious but specific declaration of hope). Then, they will work with community partners to determine an appropriate outdoor route. Finally, the project will culminate as a walkable installation of 8-10 aesthetically unified pieces, starting and ending with blessings projected onto buildings a few blocks from each other, with transformed “blessed” objects to be found along the way (ie. large text painted on a bench, length of sidewalk, dumpster, etc). Since young women are often taught to take up less space, projecting their words large-scale onto community spaces is a radical, inherently subversive act. Rather than seeking to “empower” young women, these pieces assert that young women already possess the requisite power to speak life into their community. As a result, the installation both realizes local young women’s visions for their city’s future, and designates a walkable space in an otherwise unwalkable city.

Mod Pod

Mod Pod

Rickey Crum, Gray Garmon, Katie Krummeck, Edward Li, and Justin Childress: The artist team is a collective of designers from a variety of backgrounds (architecture, human-centered design, graphic design, engineering, and education) with experience working all over the world on projects of various scales. The diverse backgrounds of the team members allow them to bring an interdisciplinary perspective to design challenges, and the nature of their work has given them the platform to use creative expression and human-centered design methodologies for social impact. The whole team (Rickey Crum, Gray Garmon, Katie Krummeck, Edward Li, and Justin Childress) are all affiliated with the Design and Innovation programs (like this and this) at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX.

Project Proposal:
We propose to create an installation of “redesigned” payphones at various public spaces in downtown Dallas. The payphone, although antiquated, can be digitally altered with new technology and pivot to be a vessel for connecting people with their city. We will work with the downtown community to understand their needs, interests, and stories to help design the payphone interactions. As a passive listener or an active contributor, people will have the ability to choose the way that they want to engage with the installation. Ultimately, this installation aims to inform people about their city, suggest ways to experience their city, inspire deeper connections between people, and encourage them to participate in the future of their city by sharing their voice.

The internal systems of the payphone will be altered with new digital technologies to allow for the keypad to provide a series of audio interactions. When a person interacts with the payphone by picking up the receiver, they will be greeted with a message that prompts the user to engage in different activities. For instance, the user might be prompted to hear the history about a nearby building, or a historical event. An informational option could provide recommendations on local dining or entertainment offerings. They can press a number that asks the user a question about their opinion on a current civic topic and records their response.  There could be an option to leave recorded stories that others can listen to and share then personal experiences.

These projects are part of [bc]'s Activating Vacancy initiative. Activating Vacancy is an art and public interest design initiative where residents work alongside artists and designers to investigate, strengthen, and share a community’s unique history; engage in the development of a physical and social framework for cultural activities; and plan for the renewal and growth of the neighborhood. Collaborations included art installations, performances and other artistic actions that explore the cultural, social, political and economic life of a neighborhood. 

This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. To find out more about how National Endowment for the Arts grants impact individuals and communities, visit www.arts.gov.

Additional support is provided by Downtown Dallas, Inc.

11th Street Bridge Park Working Group

See more posts about our work in DC

[bc] is supporting the 11th Street Bridge Park with developing cultural strategies to include in its Equitable Development Plan. On July 20th and 25th, [bc] and the 11th Street Bridge Park facilitated two small working group meetings. Local artists, arts organizations, and national leaders drafted initial strategies that identify how the Bridge Park can support arts, culture and heritage in its impact area. 

These draft strategies will be shared with the public at an open house on Wednesday, August 16th. 

Welcome Hafsa Ambreen!

Learn more about Hafsa Ambreen here!

Hafsa Ambreen is a Design Associate for buildingcommunityWORKSHOP. She plays a dynamic design role in the office and is part of several projects taking place in and around Dallas.  

Her interests include design research, community based design, and design as a tool for advocacy. Her professional work has included working on the design and fabrication of an entirely cardboard set for a production of Rose and Cavalier by Victory Hall Opera. While working for the Charlottesville-based research initiative Thriving Cities, she completed research, created diagrams, and designed layouts for a series of city case studies.  

Hafsa holds a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture from the University of Virginia.

Movimiento del Valle por los Derechos Humanos

Click here to read more about our Public Design Impact Initiative!

We are excited to begin working with Movimiento del Valle por los Derechos Humanos and local graphic designer Nayelli Bautista as a part of our Public Design Impact Initiative. Movimiento del Valle is a community organization that educates and organizes the community around human rights issues. 

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Movimiento del Valle is currently teaching community members about their constitutional rights and training them in strategies to combat anti-immigration attacks at the State and National levels. The Moviemento del Valle recognizes that the Rio Grande Valley is a very vulnerable geographic area that requires thoughtful and effective educational materials on rights and immigration.  The organization seeks support in creating dynamic resources that communicate information effectively through clear and accessible design and graphics.

Through a design process that engages both community stakeholders and partner organizations, Nayelli will work with Movimiento del Valle to update their educational and organizational materials, making them relevant and accessible to the audience Movimiento del Valle would like to reach. Together, we will update and refine Movimiento del Valle’s teaching tools to meet their current needs, and we will generate an online platform to make important information accessible to organization members and the public. 

The aim of our PDII program is to use local design talent to increase the impact of our peer nonprofit organizations and community groups. The 2017 PDII program selected two projects to complete in the calendar year. Read about our other project selection, Equal Voice Network.

Welcome Josh Bremer

Learn more about Josh Bremer here!

Josh Bremer is a Design Associate for buildingcommunityWORKSHOP. He works on sustainable housing and low impact development projects in the Rio Grande Valley and Corpus Christi.

He was born and raised with the understanding that you should never look down upon someone unless you’re helping them up, hence his desire for public interest design and architecture that focuses on the inhabitants of the space. After participating in several mission trips that fueled his already creative mindset, working with people through architecture became his passion.

He began his architectural studies at Lawrence Technological University in Southfield, Michigan. He holds a Master’s Degree for Architecture and a Master’s Degree for Urban Design. He is a Michigan native, having been raised in the small village of Middleville, Michigan.

Welcome Kristy Ramirez

Learn more about Kristy Ramirez here!

Kristy Ramirez is the Operations Administrative Assistant for buildingcommunityWORKSHOP. She brings over 20 years of nonprofit operations management experience to [bc] where she assists in the day-to-day operations with [bc]’s four offices.

She leads the behind-the-scenes efforts at [bc] to stay organized and to help staff and fellows at [bc] to be able to accomplish their work. Her vast nonprofit expertise ensures that all offices stay in working order.

Remembering the Fallen Officers of July 7th, 2016

Click here to read more about Little Free Libraries!

buildingcommunityWORKSHOP hosted the official opening reception of the DPD & DART Officer Memorial Little Free Libraries last Saturday, July 22nd at South Side on Lamar

Wisconsin resident Helen Stassen, whose late son Benjamin has been commemorated through a Little Free Library in their hometown, reached out to [bc] after July 7th to initiate this endeavor and generously funded the design and construction of the five libraries. 


“We are offering a small contribution to personal and community healing in the form of Little Free Libraries as memorials to the slain Dallas Officers. Since Benjamin’s death our family has embraced the positive experience of being stewards of a Little Free Library, used by many people, that is a memorial in Benjamin’s name. This offers us an evolving and ever changing way to nurture and care for others in our community and to keep Benjamin’s memory alive. May the families, friends and community of Officers receive some of these same benefits. We hope/pray those who see and use these libraries and hear this story be moved toward helping others and sharing in peaceful nonviolent ways.“

Over the last 12 months, the five Little Free Libraries have been designed, built, and installed across the City of Dallas to commemorate the five officers who lost their lives on July 7th, 2016. This project has been an opportunity for a meaningful collaboration between [bc], the Dallas Police Department's Office of Community Affairs, a team of dedicated volunteer designers, and our library stewards: South Side on Lamar, El Centro College, N W Harllee Early Childhood Center, Our Saviour Episcopal Church, and Vickery Meadow Community Garden. To realize the libraries, a group of 6 core volunteers offered their design services with help from dozens of other volunteer professionals and students. The design of the 5 libraries is composed of 5 shapes that were fabricated by hand. The libraries work together as a group, but are arranged in different compositions in each location to preserve  a sense of individuality for each library. 

This scheme was inspired by the police officers, who were all unique individuals who came together to work as one unit.  The unique geometric qualities of each library are meant to represent this bond. Proudly painted blue and yellow, all libraries display the fallen officers’ badge numbers, the “Read in Peace” slogan, and other personal memorial items from the Stassen family that address people affected by gun violence.

The memorial libraries are part of our Little Free Library/Libros Libres program. Little Free Libraries/Libros Libres is a literacy and community based design initiative in Dallas, Texas that uses free book exchanges to build community and promote a culture of reading. Inspired by the Little Free Library movement (www.littlefreelibrary.org), these small neighborhood book shelters operate under the guiding principle of “take a book, leave a book.” The project uses community engagement and design to makes books available in a variety of publicly accessible locations, supporting the health of the neighborhoods by fostering collaboration and relationships.

We would like to thank everyone who was involved in the creation of the libraries. Over the course of the year, we had over a dozen hands involved in the design and fabrication process. The core volunteer group was led by: 
Amruta Sakalker
Kristin Henry
Haven Hardage
Oswaldo Rivera-Ortiz
Freddie Ortiz
Sonya Shah

Additional support and in-kind donations were made by:
Richardson High School’s R Studio
Dallas Metal Inc.
SMU Deacon Innovation Lab
Little Free Libraries

Little Free Libraries in the press:
Little Free Libraries will honor fallen Dallas officers, Dallas Morning News, September 9, 2016. 
 

Dallas Designer Social: Creating a Neighborhood Cultural Hub

Learn more about our work in Dallas!

How do you transform a shopping center into a cultural hub for it's neighborhood?

Focused on education and fostering entrepreneurship in the community, For Oak Cliff is getting its start in the Glendale Shopping Center in South Oak Cliff. Their vision is to foster a community space that inspires and energizes the residents in the area. With the goal of improving their new retail/office space to better achieve this vision, [bc] invited a group of local designers for a Designer Social event to develop concepts and schematic designs both inside For Oak Cliff's office space and around the shopping center as a whole. 

Check out these photos from the Designer Social:

Announcing Activating Vacancy Downtown Dallas Call for Proposals

buildingcommunityWORKSHOP, with Downtown Dallas Inc, is excited to announce Activating Vacancy Downtown Dallas’s call for artist proposals.  Artists are invited to submit applications for this project that asks artists to create create work that directly addresses issues identified by downtown stakeholders through a previous process called Community Audited Public Space (CAPS), as well as by a Community Advisory Committee.  

Read More

Smart Growth for Dallas at Earth Day Texas

Learn more about Smart Growth for Dallas!

Join us for one of six “Neighborhood Priorities for Parks: Smart Growth for Dallas Focus Groups” at Earth Day Texas.

Find us at booths 1910 and 2005 in the Automobile Building, where we will discuss the physical, social, environmental, and economic factors that influence the ease and barriers to access and experience of Dallas’ parks and open space. The outcomes of these focus groups will directly influence the development of the Smart Growth for Dallas “decision support” tool that will help Dallas prioritize its investments in parks based on their economic, social, and ecological benefits. Results of the program will be available to city staff, non-profit partners, and the public through an interactive website.

For more information visit smartgrowthfordallas.com

2017 State of Dallas Housing Report

Learn more about AIM for Dallas and bcANALYTICS, and read the full 2017 State of Dallas Housing Report here. 

If you missed the April 25th event, you can watch the presentation and panel discussion here.

Like many cities across America, Dallas struggles with how to provide adequate housing for low, moderate, and middle income households. The city’s history of segregation between the north and south is evident in many ways, as discussed in 2016 State of Dallas Housing. In regards to housing, a 2015 Supreme Court ruling on Fair Housing and the City’s Voluntary Compliance Agreement with The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) have put the City under pressure to address historic segregation through their policies and funding allocations. Are opportunities for housing available to all residents, in the north and south?  A holistic analysis of the city’s housing landscape is needed to help better understand current conditions and help shape housing policy to address the needs of Dallas.

The 2017 State of Dallas Housing is just that assessment of Dallas’ housing landscape - its current housing stock, the people that live in the city, activity to construct and sell new homes, and the policies that guide civic and market investments in housing.


Join [bc] for a presentation of the 2017 State of Dallas Housing report followed by a panel discussion on housing affordability in Dallas on Tuesday, April 25th, at 6:30 pm at the Dallas Black Dance Theatre.  Panelist include - 

Roy Lopez - Community Development Office, U.S. Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas
Bernadette Mitchell - Director of Housing, City of Dallas
Demetria McCain - President, Inclusive Communities Project
Scott Galbraith - Vice President, Matthews Affordable Income Development

Please RSVP here.  Light refreshments will be provided.


Executive Summary

The 2017 State of Dallas Housing documents the characteristics of Dallas’ housing landscape - the people who live in the city, the houses they live in, and activity to build or sell homes - and identifies major barriers to accessing adequate housing for many of the city’s 1.3 million residents. In a city that has seen sustained increases in housing costs following the 2008 Recession, it appears that many low- and middle-income Dallasites struggle to find housing that meets their needs, regardless of whether they are looking to rent or own. Dallas’ surprisingly low homeownership rate (43%) continues to sit well below peers across the country, but this varies greatly between northern and southern Dallas as well as between the city’s white and minority households.

Dallas’ North-South divide permeates the report. Differences between households, housing, and market activity represent serious issues facing the city’s population. The city’s minority population is highly concentrated in southern Dallas and live in housing that is older and more affordable, although of varying quality, and those that live in northern Dallas are overwhelmingly renters. Opportunities to find affordable housing are limited in the north, often by economic constraints facing more than a third of the city’s households. Despite this, the local housing market operates at the high end of the income bracket, where homes are built and sold that far exceed the financial realities of most households in the city.

The findings in this report highlight the need for adjustments in public policy and reveal inefficiencies in the current marketplace. The recommendations of this report speak to those adjustments and inefficiencies, providing a pathway to building a more equitable city:

Key Findings

  • 68,000 households in Dallas need housing that costs less than $400 per month;
  • Homeownership for Dallas’ minority households falls behind rates of white households: 56% of white households are owner-occupied, compared to 31% for black households, 43% for Hispanic households, and 38% for Asian households;
  • The median sale price of recently constructed homes rose from $145,00 in 2011 to $522,000 in 2016;
  • 32% of homes in southern Dallas are valued less than $50,000, which represents just 6% of northern Dallas houses.

Recommendations

  • The City of Dallas should undertake a thorough review of its Land Bank program;
  • Innovative programs that promote housing affordability should be adopted by the City;
  • Public/Private partnerships to expand market-rate affordable housing for middle-income homebuyers are needed across the City;
  • Local homebuilders should explore opportunities for infill development of housing products that address the needs of low- and middle-income households identified in the report;
  • The City should seek to further Fair Housing through all funding allocations, including HUD funding for single family ownership.

Rural Placemaking Participant Selection

See more posts about Activating Vacancy and our work in D.C. 

[bc] and the Housing Assistance Council (HAC) are pleased to announce the selection of two organizations for our Rural Placemaking Program, supported by a Knowledge Building Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). The smART Kinston City Project Foundation in Kinston, North Carolina and Woodlands Development Group in Elkins, West Virginia will be implementing rural creative placemaking initiatives during summer 2017 as a part of this program.

The smART Kinston City Project Foundation has been working to foster the development of an arts-driven and asset-based economy by cultivating an Arts and Cultural District in Downtown Kinston for the last two years.  smART Kinston focuses their initiatives on connecting individuals and communities, using art as a tool to address local infrastructure and regional economic challenges.   Their pilot project will partner artists with local stakeholders to develop a creative placemaking project that addresses racial tensions and economic inequity in this city of 21,000.

Woodlands Development Group is a certified Community Housing Development Organization that has been working in Elkins, West Virginia and the surrounding area since 1995.  For this initiative, Woodlands will partner with ArtSpring to implement a creative placemaking initiative in Thomas, West Virginia - a town with a population of 600.  ArtSpring, a nonprofit that nurtures the arts community, has worked since 2011 to engage the public and promote Tucker county as an arts destination by presenting an annual arts festival.   Woodlands and ArtSpring will use community input to develop public art and wayfinding installations that reflect the artistic assets of the region and highlight the quickly developing cultural identity of Thomas.

Over the next six months, smART Kinston and Woodlands Development Group will work in partnership with residents and artists to develop a creative, arts-based initiative in their communities.  With the support of [bc] and HAC, both organizations will kickoff their creative placemaking pilot projects in June.  

The project is funded in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).  To find out more about how the National Endowment for the Arts grants impact individuals and communities visit www.arts.gov.  

PDII 2017 Project Selections

Learn more about the Public Design Impact Initiative!

In January 2017, as part of a collaborative effort to extend equity in design to rural, colonia areas, a Request For Proposals was released to invite Rio Grande Valley nonprofit organizations and groups to submit project proposals to be matched with pro bono design services. From this RFP, we received many excellent proposals, and in March, a jury of nonprofit, community and design leaders convened to review the proposals and provide their recommendations for this year's selections.

[bc] is excited to announce that the following two projects have been selected for 2017:


Movimiento del Valle por los Derechos Humanos
Movimiento del Valle is currently educating and training community members about their constitutional rights as a strategy against anti-immigration attacks at the State and National levels. Recognizing that the RGV is a very vulnerable geographical area, they seek support in creating more educational resources for the community that help them communicate information more effectively through clear and accessible design and graphics. Through PDII Movimiento wants to start a graphic campaign and an online platform in which RGV residents have access to information and messages from the group. Their proposal includes the production of designs and educational resources to better equip the community on how to defend themselves against anti-immigration laws and a state of militarization and heavy policing at the border.


Equal Voice Network
The Equal Voice Network wants to develop a demonstration project of attractive and accessible social media messages of public interest and benefit. Through PDII the nonprofit wants to create a smart-phone friendly video series (via Facebook) that targets adults who have had limited opportunity for formal education. The first product of the series will break down the very complicated education reform bill passed in 2013 by the Texas State Legislature (Foundation High School Program) to give parents an immediate sense of what they need to be aware of for their middle and high school aged children. The other subjects of the series could cover a wide range of issues that affect the residents of  colonias like health care (Zika prevention), housing (“Is your home address on the 9-1-1 list?”), education (“Will  your child graduate high school eligible for university?”).

Welcome Luis Murillo!

Learn more about Luis here!

Luis Murillo is a bcFELLOW at buildingcommunityWORKSHOP. He works on sustainABLEhouse and low impact development projects in the Rio Grande Valley. As a Brownsville native, Luis has personally experienced the multifaceted issues that the community faces. Through the implementation of new ideas and thoughtful design he works to solve environmental and social issues in the community. He aspires to make an impact and create positive change in the RGV

Luis began his architectural studies at the University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost College. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Architecture from Texas Tech University College of Architecture and gained experience in building code analysis through interning for the City of Lubbock Building Inspections Department.