Disaster Recovery Guides Update

As we near the two year anniversary of Hurricane Harvey, we can’t ignore the fact that families are continuing to recover and rebuild their lives from the devastation this storm wreaked -- and for many, the challenge is made more difficult due to a lack of accurate information available in the language they understand best.

By partnering with the Red Cross and local long-term recovery groups working on the ground in the Gulf Coast, we are helping to get legally-accurate, easy-to-understand information into the hands of those who need it most. We are midway through this project, through which we will produce four Disaster Recovery Guides translated into five languages to be distributed across Houston and Harris, Nueces, and Refugio counties. The Guides will cover four topic areas: flood insurance, renters’ rights, title clearing, and contractor fraud.

Recently, we formed a partnership that will broaden our reach even further. Thanks to a connection from our funder, we were able to begin work with another Red Cross grantee -- a group that believes that everyone should have equal access to information, communication and services that can impact their quality of life and their ability to be independent. No Barriers Communication, based in San Antonio, will translate our four written guides into videos accessible by American Sign Language.

The more people that have access to this important disaster recovery information, the better. We are so happy to work with No Barriers Communication to broaden our reach to include the hearing-impaired! Once the videos are complete, we will host them here on our website -- so please stay tuned for more from the Disaster Recovery Guides project.  

Funding for this project provided by:

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Community Engagement Report Release

The CDRC and [bc] facilitate table discussions at Districts E Community Meeting. Photo: HCDD

The CDRC and [bc] facilitate table discussions at Districts E Community Meeting. Photo: HCDD

In response to the destruction caused by Hurricane Harvey in 2017, Congress allocated $5.204 billion to the State of Texas for recovery efforts. In a departure from past recovery efforts, the City of Houston was given local control over $1.15 billion of these funds—and a short window of time in which to create the Local Action Plan, which outlines how federal funds will be used. The City of Houston’s Housing and Community Development Department (HCDD) sought to increase the role of community engagement in informing their final Local Action Plan and Disaster Recovery Programs-- its their largest Engagement effort to date. buildingcommunityWORKSHOP was pleased to collaborate with HCDD, the Community Design Resource Center (CDRC), Texas Organizing Project (TOP), Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), and the UT Public Health Department to expand community engagement activities in the disaster recovery process.

Beginning in June 2018, HCDD reached out to local organizations to plan a series of meetings with different groups to understand their issues and expectations, receive recommendations about next steps, and identify potential partners. Then, local and community organizations were contacted to build partnerships for a community engagement process that would inform Houston’s Local Action Plan for the allocation of Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Relief (CDBG-DR) funds and understand the needs of communities prior and after Harvey.

Due to the rapid turnaround desired by the Mayor’s office, the Engagement process took place over the course of six weeks. [bc] and the CDRC worked together to craft a methodology, design interactive activities that would engage diverse communities, facilitate conversations, and build the department's capacity to facilitate and implement community engagement activities. [bc] and CDRC provided support to HCDD and other partner organizations by developing meeting materials, facilitator guides, and conducting facilitator training. See below the city wide meeting locations:

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The findings of the engagement process were clear. Houstonians voiced their desire for increased transparency and community participation in the recovery process. Improved drainage and long-term planning for future disasters—Harvey was the third disaster to strike Houston in 5 years—were also priorities.

The Community Engagement Report detailing the methodology was initially prepared as an internal report from [bc] to the HCD Department, but given the lessons learned and reflections included in the report, the City wished to turn it into a public guide for potential use by other cities looking to enhance their Engagement efforts. It was published online in November of 2018—to learn more, we invite you to read the Report in its entirety.

Hurricane Harvey Disaster Recovery Guides

Image Credit Lafayette, TN, February 8, 2008. George Armstrong/FEMA Photo Library

Image Credit Lafayette, TN, February 8, 2008. George Armstrong/FEMA Photo Library

Since Hurricane Harvey, we have been working alongside our partners and residents of communities affected by the storm. Building off our work to empower community members with the knowledge to drive the future of their communities through projects like the Land Use Colonia Housing Action (LUCHA) and the Disaster Recovery Leadership Development program in partnership with the Texas Organizing Project, [bc] will produce a series of graphic Disaster Recovery Guides to aid residents of Harris, Aransas, Refugio, and Nueces Counties in accessing disaster recovery resources to aid them and their families in their recovery, in conjunction with the disbursement of federal funding allocated to these four counties. This project is supported by a generous grant from the American Red Cross.

We look forward to providing further updates on our progress to engage diverse community members throughout this process and to sharing the Disaster Recovery Guides, which will be available in 5 languages, via our website.

To learn more about how you or your organization can get involved with this project, please contact us at inform@bcworkshop.org

Funding for this project provided by:

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Harold Simmons Park Public Workshops

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[bc] is serving as a consultant to the Trinity Park Conservancy, bringing our skill set in public interest design to engage Dallas' communities around the future of Harold Simmons Park, 200 acres along the Trinity River. Engagement efforts will focus on discovering how Dallas residents currently use parks and public space while encouraging them to re-imagine what this area could be. This understanding will inform the design of the 200 acre Harold Simmons Park.

Join us as we support the Trinity Park Conservancy in envisioning the future of the Harold Simmons Park as a public space that connects Dallas residents to each other and nature. Starting September 15th, the Conservancy will host 10 public workshops across the city to reimagine our river. For more about Harold Simmons Park, click here. Click here to RSVP to the upcoming workshops.

Smart Growth for Dallas Focus Forum Update

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As we gear up for the final two Smart Growth for Dallas Focus Forum conversations on Parks and Public Space for People of All Abilities (August 9th) and Designing for Equity in Parks and Public Space (September 6th), we have been reflecting on the thoughtful conversations we’ve had had so far.

In our first panel discussion in May, moderated by Dr. Ivonne Audirac of the University of Texas at Arlington's College of Architecture, Planning and Public Affairs (CAPPA), we had a compelling conversation about the issues of urban development and the impact of public space design on neighborhood vitality. Our panelists Aaron Abelson of HR&A Advisors, Brianna Brown of Texas Organizing Project, and Brent Brown of the Trinity Park Conservancy joined us at Better Block to talk about how public space design can contribute to the perpetuation of neighborhood disinvestment or be a catalyst for new development and neighborhood desirability. You can listen to the conversation online.

The second panel discussion in June was moderated by Alfreda Norman, Senior Vice President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, where we discussed the issues of race and ethnicity in public space design. Our panelists Bobby Abtahi, President of the Dallas Park and Recreation Board, Isaac Cohen, a Landscape Architect at Studio Outside, Delia Jasso, former District 1 Council Member, and Yui Iwase, New Roots Coordinator at the International Rescue Committee joined us at the Dallas Black Dance Theater to talk about how a city with a long history of segregation might approach current and future public space design in a way that supports equity and access to public space for all of its residents. You can learn about the history of Dallas’ public parks and residential racial segregation within the city in [bc]’s Race and Control of Public Parks and listen to the panel conversation online.

Stay tuned for more information about the upcoming focus forums!

Smart Growth for Dallas, an initiative led by the Trust for Public Land, buildingcommunityWORKSHOP, and Texas Trees Foundation, seeks to combine community insight and science to promote quality public spaces and green infrastructure in Dallas. To unpack the issues highlighted during our community engagement process, Smart Growth for Dallas will be hosting a series of 'Focus Forums' to explore the challenging topics of race and ethnicity, urban development, and accessibility within our public space design. The closing discussion will seek to knit together the prior conversation by exploring the specific role of design in bringing equity to public spaces. Through these conversations we hope to uncover forward-thinking ideas about planning and public space design in Dallas by bringing together groups whose work directly relates to each theme.

buildingcommunityHEROES 4th Edition Released

[bc] is excited to share our 4th edition of buildingcommunityHEROES ([bc]HEROES) trading cards. This edition celebrates individuals across Dallas who are making strides in the areas of education, food access, community organizing, arts, bicycle advocacy, and community development. With a fresh new design, these cards are a fun way to learn about and celebrate local Dallas heroes.

Our 4th Edition Heroes include: Lucy Phelps Patterson, Daron Babcock, Kay Thompson, William Sidney Pittman, Yvonne Ewell, Taylor Toynes, Clarice Criss, Cora Cardona, Onjaleke Brown, Joli Robinson, Ronnie Mestas, Lily Weiss, Ben Leal, and Ashly Fields.

[bc]HEROES launched in 2014 in commemoration of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Day of Service. Dr. King challenged us to build a more perfect union and taught us that everyone has a role to play. [bc] honors that incredible legacy of service by recognizing local trailblazers, advocates, organizers, and leaders, who serve our communities.

Check out more at buildingcommunityheroes.org, read HERO bios, nominate your HERO for future trading cards, and explore our HEROES’ causes. If you would like your own pack of [bc]HEROES trading cards please contact give us a call or swing by the Dallas Office. Supplies are limited.

Cottages Featured in Two Exhibitions

A view of The Cottages at Hickory Crossing in Dallas, TX. 

A view of The Cottages at Hickory Crossing in Dallas, TX. 

The Cottages at Hickory Crossing, the 50-unit permanent supportive housing complex in Dallas, TX for which [bc] served as architect, will be featured in two new exhibitions this summer.

Re-opening June 14, 2018 at the Corcoran School of the Arts & Design at George Washington University is the Sustainable Native Communities Collective (SNCC) Bridging Boundaries exhibition. The exhibition, which runs through August 19, demonstrates "how art and design can create space for unification and negotiation." Join us for the opening reception!

This October, Design for Good: Architecture for Everyone will open at the Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA). The exhibition is curated by the author of the eponymous book, John Cary. 

We are thrilled to have our work featured in these important exhibitions. If you have a chance to visit them, engage with us on social media, snap a picture, and let us know what you think!

Cultivating Connections Final Presentations

See more posts about our work in DC!

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On May 1, students in Professor Barbara Brown-Wilson's Ecological Democracy course at the University of Virginia School of Architecture gave their final presentations for their Cultivating Connections project, through which they explored how to connect the Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens—a National Park—to the surrounding Kenilworth-Parkside community. Students presented via video conference to a group which included representatives of Friends of Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, the National Park Service, and the DC Office of Planning. The presentations wrapped up a semester-long project for the students, who received guidance  and mentorship in public interest design and community engagement practices from [bc]'s Washington, DC team.

Over the course of the semester, activities that informed their project included visits to the park and design activities with visitors. As part of NatureFest—a weeklong camp at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens—UVA students asked young participants to  draw maps of how they get to the park and representations of plants and animals they've encountered there, learning about where campers come from and how they interact with the park. 

Check out images from the final presentation day below!

This project is supported in part by a grant 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.

Smart Growth for Dallas Focus Forums

Learn more about Smart Growth for Dallas!

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Smart Growth for Dallas, an initiative led by the Trust for Public Land, buildingcommunityWORKSHOP, and Texas Trees Foundation, seeks to combine community insight and science to promote quality public spaces and green infrastructure in Dallas. To unpack the issues highlighted during our community engagement process, Smart Growth for Dallas will be hosting a series of Focus Forums to explore the challenging topics of race and ethnicity, urban development, and accessibility within our public space design. The closing discussion will seek to knit together the prior conversation by exploring the specific role of design in bringing equity to public spaces. Through these conversations we hope to uncover forward-thinking ideas about planning and public space design in Dallas by bringing together groups whose work directly relates to each theme.

The first focus forum, "Equitable Development & Public Space" will be held on Thursday, May 17. A panel discussion moderated by Dr. Ivonne Audirac, of the University of Texas at Arlington's College of Architecture, Planning and Public Affairs (CAPPA), will convene key stakeholders to explore the issues of urban development and the effect of public space design on neighborhood vitality. This moderated forum will discuss how the design of public spaces can impact neighborhood strength and urban development, through exploring how public space design can contribute to the perpetuation of neighborhood disinvestment or be a catalyst for new development and neighborhood desirability.

Joining us as panelists are Aaron Abelson of HR&A Advisors, Brent Brown of the Trinity Park Conservancy, Brianna Brown of Texas Organizing Project, and Cynthia Salinas of the Esperanza Building Blocks.

Stay tuned for more information about future focus forums as their dates and locations are announced!

[bc] + UVA Community Design Partnership

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Supported in part by a National Endowment for the Arts Art Works grant, [bc] is partnering with the University of Virginia School of Architecture to train students in the practice of community-engaged, public interest design.

15 students enrolled in the semester-long Ecological Democracy class, a graduate planning course taught by Assistant Professor Barbara Brown-Wilson, will work with [bc]'s DC team to utilize community-engaged research and design methods to address a timely equitable development challenge.  Over the semester, students will build awareness of "the roles planning and design can play in supporting socio-economic vulnerable communities to increase their own social and ecological resilience."

[bc] and UVA are working with the nonprofit organization Friends of the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens to develop strategies that help connect residents of the surrounding community to the Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens, a National Park though signage, way-finding and other physical interventions. 

In February, UVA students traveled to Washington, DC. Students, faculty, and [bc] staff visited Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens to gain insight from stakeholders, conduct a site documentation assignment, and learn about the history of the Kenilworth-Parkside neighborhood.

In March, [bc] visited the UVA campus to provide feedback on students' group presentations, which explored aspects of way-finding signage design, codes and regulations, mapping, and project coordinators. Check out our photos from these activities!

This partnership furthers [bc]'s efforts to advance the practice of public interest design through training and mentorship of designers and planners, while providing UVA students with experience learning from professionals in the field. 

This project is supported in part by a grant 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.

Smart Growth for Dallas Technical Advisory Team

Learn more about our Smart Growth for Dallas related work!

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Smart Growth for Dallas is launching a Technical Advisory Team! As the next phase of a partnership with the Trust for Public Land and the Texas Trees Foundation, we're working to refine a data-driven decision support tool, which will help Dallas and its residents identify opportunities for parks, green infrastructure, and other green investments in areas where it will have significant impact. The information gathered through prior community engagement meetings has informed and will continue to drive the development of this tool. We'll be communicating with stakeholders across the city to get additional input.

As members of the Technical Advisory Team, stakeholders will provide insight as to how this tool can help achieve goals across various sectors, how their data can be incorporated, and specific use cases for the tool. The partnership will be convening a series of webinars through Summer 2018 in alignment with the five planning objectives: Connect, Cool, Health, Equity, and Absorb/Protect.

If you think the tool could be useful to you or your organization, please get in touch with us via email!

[bc], Trust for Public Land, and Dallas Park and Recreation Director Willis Winters were recently featured in an NBC DFW segment. Trust for Public Land North Texas Area Director Robert Kent stated, "Our objective in Smart Growth for Dallas is to provide a best in class data tool, to help the city understand specific areas where we can make investments in green assets, whether it's things like rain gardens or more trees or buying more land for parks, that will have a big impact on social, economic and environmental challenges." 

Stay tuned for further updates!

Dallas Cultural Plan Public Engagement

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As a partner in the team with Lord Cultural Resources, HR&A Advisors, and Idyllic Interactive[bc] is working to engage Dallas's residents for the Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs' Dallas Cultural Plan 2018. Through a year-long process, the Office of Cultural Affairs (OCA) seeks to gather community input on how residents experience culture in their daily lives and how the city can continue to stay arts-friendly. 

The public engagement process for the Dallas Cultural Plan kicked off with a series of four events this September. At the Dallas Museum of Art, the Dallas Children's Theatre, Walnut Hill Recreation Center, and Southwest Center Mall, attendees participated in a series of activities which included realtime digital mapping, drawing stories of cultural experiences, and building ideal cultural communities. 

Through October and November, Community Conversations at South Dallas Cultural Center, Oak Cliff Cultural Center, Fretz Park Recreation Center, Bath House Cultural Center, Pleasant Grove Branch Library, West Dallas Multipurpose Center, and Moody Performance Hall provided forums for residents to share their visions for arts in their neighborhoods.

The Community Conversations will engage residents of all 14 districts within the City of Dallas. The series resumed for the new year at the Grauwyler Park Branch Library on January 11, 2018. In January/February 2018, we'll continue engaging residents through Community Conversations at:

This phase of outreach also includes a series of discussions focused on specific art mediums, cultural institutions, and practicing artists. Upcoming opportunities include:

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Don't miss your chance to share your thoughts, hopes, and dreams for Dallas's cultural future through this once-in-a-decade opportunity. Be on the lookout for future events on the Dallas Cultural Plan event calendar

Even if you can't make it to an event, there are other ways that you can get involved! Take the Dallas Cultural Plan Survey to help us understand the diversity of arts and cultural activity occurring across Dallas and in your neighborhood.

You can also contribute to Dallas’ Arts & Culture Ecosystem Map by entering locations where you go to to create, experience, or learn about arts and culture in Dallas here—please enter only one location at a time, but you can submit as many responses as you'd like.

The Neighborhood Toolkit can be used to facilitate a conversation with friends, neighbors or co-workers on your own time. Email engage@dallasculturalplan.com to tell us about the date, time and location of your meeting!

Check out photos from Dallas Cultural Plan activities that have taken place thus far in the gallery below!

PDII 2017 Projects Completed!

Learn more about the Public Design Impact Initiative!

For the two projects selected this year, filmmaker Tony Pena filmed and produced two videos for Equal Voice Network, and graphic designer Nayelli Bautista designed essential handouts and informational materials for Movimiento del Valle por los Derechos Humanos. 

These projects will both assist each organization with their outreach to residents of the Rio Grande Valley, ensuring they are informed about their rights as citizens or non-citizens. It also positions each organization as a resource for their communities. We hope these design works enable both groups to reach a wider and more diverse audience. 

You can see the products of each project by following our recipient organizations: Equal Voice Network and Movimiento del Valle por los Derechos Humanos on their social media. 

Movimiento del Valle por los Derechos Humanos now has brochures, posters, flyers, and business cards to distribute that inform Rio Grande Valley residents of their rights and provides resources in case these rights are violated.

Equal Voice Network now has two short videos regarding the impacts of legislation like SB4 and how we can all work together to advocate for the interests of individuals and families in the Rio Grande Valley.

These Public Design Impact Initiative projects were made possible by support from the Ford Foundation. Thank you to our designers, nonprofit partners and supporters!

Cool & Connected Oak Cliff

Learn more about our Smart Growth for Dallas related work!

We've had a blast working with The Texas Trees Foundation, The Trust for Public Land, and The Nature Conservancy; and working together with Oak Cliff residents and schools to implement large-scale tree planting projects in a targeted “heat island” area in southern Dallas. 

Science has shown that healthy urban tree canopies provide cities and communities a broad range of environmental and health benefits. Trees help combat extreme heat and harmful air pollution, both of which contribute to public health concerns like asthma and heart disease. They also regulate water quality, reduce storm water runoff and provide habitat for wildlife. Increasingly, urban forests and other forms of green space are recognized as an important strategy for increasing a city’s resilience to the impacts of climate change and, a growing body of research shows that students benefit from close proximity to green space around schools.

Unfortunately, parks, trees, and green space are in short supply in parts of Dallas—particularly around schools. Research from The Trust for Public Land indicates that only 58% of Dallas residents have a park or trail within a half-mile walking distance from their home; and a recent study from the Texas Trees Foundation indicates that 95% of schools in the Dallas Independent School District lack adequate canopy cover. Additionally, Dallas has the 3rd fastest growing urban heat island in the country.

Project partners are using data driven analysis to identify and advance tree planting in neighborhoods and school campuses with the greatest need. The Trust for Public Land’s recent “Smart Growth for Dallas” analysis identified portions of the historic Oak Cliff community, in southern Dallas, as a high priority for urban heat island reduction, connectivity enhancements, equity improvements and efforts to improve public health.

Over the course of the next several months, project partners will work alongside community volunteers and students to plant over 1,000 trees in a target area of Oak Cliff. Trees will be planted on two Dallas Independent School District (DISD) school campuses and in the surrounding neighborhood, including linkages to the Honey Springs-Cedar Crest Trail.

Join us! There will be more tree plantings and community meetings in 2018. Find out more about the project and the next opportunity to contribute your time and input into this work here: http://www.texastrees.org/projects/cool-connect-cedar-crest/

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