Session 04: Community Engagement

Date: January 10, 2020
Location: Brookfield Properties–301 Water Street SE, Washington DC, 20003
Led by: Allyson Klinner AIA, and Jenna Bolino AIA

Downloads: Session 04 PDF

This session focused on the much anticipated 11th Street Bridge Park project as a major theme.  The first speaker, Omar Hakeem from BC Workshop discussed his history in the design industry focusing on Public Interest design and community engagement.  During this conversation, he showed his firm’s work related to the Bridge Park as well as other public interest projects across the country.  Ted Jutras of the Capitol Riverfront BID led the group on a walking tour of the park site as the second session of the afternoon.  Scholars then met with Brenda Richardson to discuss her background in the park project and other work she has done for stakeholder engagement over her career. The last sessions of the day were led by Sheldon Clark of the Douglass Land Trust and Allyson Klinner and Jenna Bolino.  The group learned about the history of Community Land Trusts and how the Douglass Land Trust operates and followed up with an interactive workshop to look at the area in Ward 8 just beyond the 11th Street Bridge Park Project.

Design Justice Through Community Engagement

The first speaker was Omar Hakeem, design director of [bc]. Mr. Hakeem presented his history of work that focused on design justice through community engagement. By focusing on the individual design decisions of the thousands that impact the direction and future of cities, he led the scholars on the many local ways they could leverage the needs and wants of local constituencies to push for better solutions to seemingly intractable poverty and catastrophe. Additionally, Mr. Hakeem invited scholars to understand how they could leverage their own work in their firms to express their personal values and shared his own projects from Dallas to Washington, DC. Additionally, he presented ways in which his work had used data analytics to arm residents with the information and context to make their own change and disrupt and re-establish the power structures that keep people poor.


Discover the Community Site Walk

The second session was a walking tour of the 11th Street Bridge Park project site with Ted Jutras, from the Capitol Riverfront BID. The BID area encompasses around 500 acres between I-395 and the Anacostia River. It is one of DC’s quickest developing neighborhoods. There are 10 acres of park across the area already, and there are plans to bridge across communities with a future 11th Street Bridge Park. After over two years of community engagement, design is underway to be finalized. A major goal of this park will be to not only bridge communities but focus on engagement with the river and environmental education. The scholars enjoyed this walking tour and a chance to chat with Ted about the history of the park project.


Connecting Communities: Benefits of Stakeholder Participation

The second speaker of the day was Brenda Lee Richardson, a self-described “eco-feminist” and environmental justice advocate who has been involved in local government, oversite and community activism in Ward 8 and beyond for over twenty-five years. Ms. Richardson brought the scholars through her rich history of local engagement including campaigning on behalf of a DC United soccer stadium at Poplar Point, environmental advocacy for the Anacostia River and the 11th Street Bridge Project. Her advice focused on the need to be persistent in engagement, putting in the leg work, seeking those who aren’t consistently engaged being mindful of their mental bandwidth competing with other personal issues and always going back again an again.


Methods for Ensuring Equitable and Inclusive Development

The last speaker session was led by Sheldon Clark, co-founder of Define Design Group. Mr. Clark is also an adjunct professor at Howard University and the President of the Board of Directors for the Douglass Community Land Trust. He led the scholars in a presentation and discussion about the history of Community Land Trusts and specifically what the Douglass Community Land Trust does in the DC area. In his career, his focus is on community engagement and accountability, and affordability for those in need of housing. The group discussed how CLTs operate, affordable housing in the District, as well as how equitable development plays out in both rental and ownership models.


Housing in Ward 8 Workshop

The final part of the program involved a brief exercise where groups of four scholars took a parcel in Ward 8 in proximity to the 11st St Bridge project and roleplayed as developer, architect, community activist and local official. Armed with the zoning information and site context, these groups then brainstormed an ideal development scenario that would balance the interests of appropriate density, public and community needs, commercial use and existing infrastructure. Though most teams devised some scheme that included an affordable housing component in addition to market rate, there was a diversity in programmatic additions like community space, retail, green space and supportive services.