The College of Environmental Design has awarded $89,000 under it’s Diversity Platform Grant program funded by the College’s Arcus Endowment to 17 projects that address a variety of timely themes including, food insecurity, research around COVID-19, race, equity, and space.
The grant program is coordinated by the Diversity Platforms Committee (DPC), led by Greig Crysler, CED’s Arcus Chair in Gender, Sexuality, and the Built Environment.
The Arcus Endowment was established in 2000 with a generous gift from Jon Stryker, a Graduate of the CED’s M.Arch Program. He is also Founder and President of the Arcus Foundation.
Over the last 2 decades, the Arcus Endowment has supported a scholar-in-residence program, and a wide range of activities led by students, faculty and staff that explore intersections between social justice and the built environment.
Images top left to bottom right: C-19 Baysheild (Tina Piracci); Planting at Wurster Hall for Shelter Gardens Network; “Lighthouse” as part of The Disproportionate Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic on People with Disabilities in the Bay Area
Landscapes of Reparations
By Anna Brand and Danika Cooper
This project examines, through collaboration and the development of exhibition materials, how drawing and representation are essential tools in conceptualizing reparations and reparative justice as geographical projects.
Building upon the work of critical race theorists, Indigenous scholars, and Black geographies scholars and creating a collaborative with Landscape Architecture students, the project will explore how spatial thinking and visual representation has agency in unsettling long-standing legacies and violent histories of empire.
Brand, Cooper, and company will curate and create materials -- both historical and archival documents and original drawings -- that will contribute to an exhibition that reframes American history through the lens of racialized landscapes and focuses on how spatial thinking might help to reimagine reparations and reparative justice.
The Ripple Effect: Community Design and Empowerment through CED-West Oakland Youth Center Partnership
By Karen Trapenberg Frick, Jeremiah Tolbert, and Cameron Toler
Professor Trapenberg Frick, and CED alumni, Jeremiah Tolbert and Cameron Toler, will launch a new undergraduate course entitled Community Design Process next fall. The interdisciplinary course partners CED students with Bay Area teens where the team will unite and work to design and build an architectural/community project in West Oakland.
Beyond mentorship, CED students will be involved in activities such as curriculum development, teaching, project planning, construction project management, and community engagement alongside collaboration and help from local teens.
Creators of the course will hope that it will engage and empower future designers and influencers in West Oakland to use their lived experiences to play a pivotal role in reviving the health of their own community.
The Bathing Waters Collective
By Amy Louie and Cooper Rogers
This project will establish a collectively structured and worker-owned communal bathhouse to empower CED students by expanding their approach to architectural practice based on values of radical inclusivity, community and social justice. The design process, led by CED’s Master of Architecture graduates Amy Louie and Cooper Rogers, will redefine the architect as one who generates the program rather than just responds to it. The bathhouse project is part of a larger effort by Louie and Rogers to revive typologies typically regarded as too radical or taboo for our socio-political context or to generate entirely new ones.
Underway since January 2019, the Waters Bathing Collective will unfold in three milestone projects over three years: a zine publication, workshop hosted at The Waters, and an exhibition and talk at the CED. Jump started by the grant, bringing this model to fruition will provide an opportunity for CED students to generate alternative ideas about what architecture can do for a city and community. They will also use their grant to think concretely about what it takes to bridge the gap between imagining radical architectures and executing them.
Shelter Gardens Network
By Chandra Laborde and Molly O’Brien
This proposal connects empty gardens and green spaces in the Bay Area with those who want to learn to garden and share their harvests with those that need help and healthy nourishment during the Coronavirus pandemic. The Shelter Gardens Network argues that the virus has exposed overwhelming issues within the food supply chain as well as the unfortunate normality of food insecurity across the country. The project’s primary inspiration springs from the Victory Garden program during World War II along with the gardens grown inside the Japanese internment camps. As in those circumstances, moments of crisis have historically represented rare windows of opportunity towards meaningful solutions.
Mutual Aid for Farm and Food Justice
By Charisma Acey
This project establishes an Urban Farm and Food Justice Fellows program to provide an immediate opportunity for CED and ESPM graduate students to partner with collaborating community organizations, part of the UC Gill Tract Community Farm. Normally, the Gill Tract Community Farm distributes over 20,000 pounds of self-grown produce to food insecure populations through community organizations.
Student and community fellows funded by this project will work together over the Spring and Fall of 2021 at the UC Gill Tract farm to establish its food aggregation and distribution hub program in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Y-PLAN Connects”: A Digital Toolkit for Building Community in Place with Bay Area Youth
By Deborah McKoy
McKoy’s Y-PLAN (Youth- Plan, Learn, Act, Now!) project centers on the present-day virtual adaptation of an award-winning DCRP course, “Housing Oakland Families”, and global community engagement initiative.
Funding from the Diversity Platforms Committee is being used to build on the program’s critical insights with better tools that provide continued opportunities to engage young people.
By altering the traditional classroom power structures and renewing the syllabus, the mentorship between Berkeley students and over 250 local high schoolers brings youth experience and insight to address Oakland’s housing crisis.
COVID-19 & San Francisco’s Chinatown: The History of a Pathological Landscape
By Divya Jain
Jain’s project sheds light on the impact of COVID-19 on San Francisco’s Chinatown community, while also conducting a historical analysis of the acute impact of past pandemics on this population. Her research and efforts from her capstone thesis “Identity Politics & Cultural Placemaking: The Americanization of Portsmouth Square”, which won the UC Berkeley Charlene Conrad Liebau Library Prize, support and inspired her DPG project.
With this exhibit, Jain hopes to orient Chinatown within the pathological landscape of San Francisco and examine how COVID-19 has led to the resurfacing of xenophobic tendencies already embedded into the urban landscape. Such a lens allows Jain and others to consider whether society has really evolved from the way it treated the Chinatown community in the past.
By Emma Tracy
Inspired by an Italian street chalk festival, Tracy’s project sponsors chalk drawings and other street art with the goal of displaying the vibrancy of the community’s spirits.
Images cater to one of the following categories: bringing attention to organizations that are positively impacting the community, highlighting individuals that are inspiring for their dedication and service to others, or expressing themes of connection, mutual aid, love, environmental/health, privilege, and power.
All of the community’s work appears in the project website’s gallery and stands as a virtual symbol of hope after the chalk fades away, according to Tracy.
Rent, Housing Inequality and COVID-19
By Eric Peterson
This research informs public debate and understanding around the relationship between economic and racial disparities in housing, specifically rental housing, and the ongoing economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Peterson details the pandemic’s disproportionate impact on communities of color and the working poor through multiple lenses: substandard living conditions as influenced by emerging and pre-existing health crises as well as the trend of declining homeownership in redlined areas, a continuing effect of 2007-2009 mortgage meltdown.
Peterson intends to produce a policy brief to influence new legislation, especially at the local and state level, designed to help tenants facing economic hardship.
With such a publication, Peterson also aims to aid the organizing for those experiencing housing insecurity, while also building consciousness around how power operates in real estate and housing markets.
Digitizing the hidden photographs of Mai Kitazawa Arbesgast
By Jason Miller
The CED Visual Resources Center holds, as part of it’s 35mm slide collection, extensive numbers of color slides photographed by Mai Kitazawa Arbegast, a CED alumni, LAEP professor, fouding director of Blake Garden, and pioneer of the Beatrix Farrand Reef Point Collection Endowment donation to the College.
The Architecture Visual Resources Library currently holds 300 of Arbegast's (who was also a gifted photographer) slides depicting Bay Area landscapes, gardens, and parks. To honor the influential Japanese-American landscape architect work, Miller plans to digitize and catalog Arbegast's slides for all UC campus and public use.
Planning for a resilient frontline community: Marin City 2020
By Kristina Hill
Hill’s project plans to continue and expand the partnership between Hill and a group of graduate students and a local activist organization, Shore Up Marin City. The organization focuses on the flooding problems and other critical environmental challenges such as fire risks, power shut-offs and health disparities, especially as the city is the only predominantly African-American community in Marin County.
The community, which includes other Latinx and South Asian low-income residents, is housed in aging public housing that dates back to the 1950s and affordable apartment developments that are newer but vulnerable to sea level rise flooding.
Hill plans to hold a second studio with this community partner in fall, and use the support from this Diversity Platform to hire four students who have already taken the studio and know the situation and the partners.
The Disproportionate Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic on People with Disabilities in the Bay Area and the Structural Inequities in Disaster Response in the Region
By Rachel Schten
Schten and her team’s project functions as a deep-dive into the experience of people with disabilities, a incredibly vulnerable population oftentimes overlooked throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
The study includes research on the nine Bay Area counties’ disaster and emergency policies, support resources, and interviews with both planners and people with disabilities to assess what their needs are and if they are being met by county-level emergency response plans and actions.
Ultimately, Schten and others will produce a research paper, create a website, and conduct a virtual symposium to share their findings.
Negro Piedmont: Race, Redlining, and Black History in Berkeley
By Rasheed Shabazz
“Negro Piedmont: Race, Redlining, and Black History in Berkeley” is a digital history website exploring the impacts of systemic racism and the historical development of unequal geographies in Berkeley.
Through the curation of primary documents, the website makes visible the historic roots of racism in Berkeley in the early 20th century. The project will feature digitized historic maps, news articles, links to oral history interviews, and a timeline of key historical, planning, demographic events and changes in Berkeley, such as: zoning ordinances, city plan, BART, school integration and busing.
The hope is this website will provide a virtual space and future repository for the histories of Black Berkeley.
BlackGirl Quarantine: An Exhibition of #BlackWomxnHealing in the Wake of 2020
Ree Botts and Leticia Carpenter
This exhibition invites Black women across the country to reflect on our gendered, racialized and embodied experiences of 2020. From racial terror to COVID quarantine, we have endured so much. National response to the deaths of Breonna Taylor and Oluwatoyin Salau repeatedly remind us just how unloved and unprotected we are. Our pain is devalidated and our healing is deprioritized. Our rage is minimized and our emotions are sanitized. Yet, we refuse to be silenced. Merging multimedia art forms, this exhibit will use each submission to curate a healing space for Black womxn who continue to experience erasure, dismissal, and invisibility, in order to affirm that we are not alone.
We wish to make space for us to name harm, mend wounds, and lean more deeply into our healing. We ask Black womxn artists to reflect on the following: How have you experienced harm in this season? How have you experienced healing? What have you created this year that you are proud of? How have you survived?
This exhibit is for the Black womxn and girls who have felt invisible and alone in quarantine. It is for the sisters who have struggled with loss, grief, depression and isolation. It is for those of us who have cried ourselves to sleep in this season, and who are still longing to be affirmed in that pain. We see you. We hear you. We love you. We affirm you. It is our hope that this exhibit will hold you and nurture your spirit in the ways you have been needing.
C19 BayShield App & Distribution
By Tina Piracci
The C19 BayShield App, founded by Tina Piracci and Dylan Arceneux, is a collaboration between CED and EECS which connects health facilities and individuals in need of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to the Bayshield group. Tina Taleb (EECS) lead the app development team while Eric Dell’Orco, Jessica Gameros and Oliver Moldow (CED) helped with marketing and management. The Bayshield group became a PPE distributor in early April as they began 3D printing and distributing PPE in response to the COVID-19 disruption of national supply chains.
Throughout their work, the C19 BayShield group has teamed up with the CITRIS Invention lab, Apple, UCSF, SJSU, other organizations, and local maker spaces to share resources, designs, and methodologies. The group has distributed over 8000 units of PPE both locally and across the nation. The app will provide live updates on PPE requests, priority request sorting, and other measures to efficiently manage the ongoign PPE shortage.
Diversity Technology Fund
By Omar Ramirez and Semar Prom
In an effort to address the pandemic-induced need for equitable access to technology, Ramirez and Prom seek to support CED students and their learning off-campus.
In a survey, about 30% of CED undergraduates indicated that they do not have access to a good internet connection. 50% said they do not have access to a laptop or desktop when they need it and over 40% of CED students indicated that they did not have a quiet space to complete school work.
To combat the many challenges of remote learning, Ramirez and Prom researched and tested noise-canceling headphones to help block external environmental distractions. The fund will allow the pair to pilot the headphones with students and follow-up with a survey of their quality and effectiveness in order to later distribute more.
Community Visions: Reimaging Planning through the Liberation of Black Communities
By Zach McRae
With funding from the DPG, McRae established a monthly podcast featuring CED’s Black alumni, faculty, graduate students and community leaders to discuss politically-pointed issues, such as race and class struggles within the planning and built environment.
The six episodes, delivered throughout the Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 semester, will cover topics like the Black Trans Lives Matter movement and its implications for urban design and planning; gentrification and how it results in the criminalization of space, incarceration and death; as well as the celebration of the next generation of Black professionals in planning and design occupations.
McRae’s project took inspiration from the work of the College of Environmental Design Black Students Association (CEDBSA). Formed in the 1990s, the Association published the journal “Community Visions” in response to the “profound dissatisfaction many of the African American students in CED experienced with the content of the curriculum.” Some 30 years later, McRae hopes to continue the discourse on the issues of race, curriculum, applicability and faculty diversity which still prevail within society and design communities.