Aleiya Evison, MDes ADPD 2020
Organization: BlackSpace, Brooklyn, NY
Sponsor: Greater Boston Area Community Service Fellowship
“As my fellowship with BlackSpace comes to a close, I am filled with gratitude as I reflect upon what the past few months have taught me about community, design, and the immense amount of love and dedication that is required to form an organization. As I mentioned at the beginning of the summer, BlackSpace was born from a labor of love when co-founders Kenyatta McLean and Emma Osore met at the 2015 GSD Black in Design conference. Their desire to create community for Black designers, urbanists, and creatives began with monthly brunches and has transformed today into a vision for fundamentally changing the field of design and planning, with justice and equity at the core of designing spaces and places. BlackSace is a collective of folks who want to leverage their gifts, passion, and commitment to justice in a field that for so long has been dominated by homogeneity. There is an understanding among BlackSpace members that what is being created through this organization is much bigger than designing buildings or planning neighborhoods; it is about reckoning with the history of racism, extraction, and exclusion that has informed our nation’s history in design and planning, while also having the courage to create something different moving forward.
Considering this vision, my task at the beginning of the summer was to evaluate the present structures and impact that BlackSpace has on its members. Over time, this evolved into the creation of an investigation of BlackSpace’s 3-5-year goals as an organization and culminated in a package/toolkit that I had the opportunity to present to the BlackSpace Board this past Wednesday. The package included a 3-5-year business plan proposal, a membership model, onboarding guidelines for new BlackSpace chapters across the country, and allyship guidelines for partner organizations and individuals. Through this package, I was able to synthesize all that I have learned through the various events, surveys, interviews, and meetings that I have had with BlackSpace members and staff throughout the summer. The package serves as a foundational strategy for the organization moving forward, and my goal was to communicate the vision and objectives of BlackSpace as it continues to grow and transform as an organization. Particularly as BlackSpace welcomes its new Board members in October, this package is intended to create tangible action-items for the new board members and staff to enact to help the 2020 goals to be realized.
Working on this project has taught me in immense amount about the logistics, operations, and facilitation that is required to implement democratic processes on an organizational level. My fellowship has connected me with brilliant folks across the country and renewed my belief that design has the potential to transform and grow as a field in my lifetime. As a collective, we are capable of designing for justice, for equity, for healing. We are capable of grappling with the impact that the field of design has had on racial exclusion, from housing policy, to redlining, and disparities within the built environment. I had the chance to be one tiny part of the BlackSpace vision, but I am fully confident that this organization will continue to lead in incredible ways, fundamentally shaping the future of design.
To learn more about BlackSpace, please check them out at the upcoming Black in Design conference here at the GSD! They will be facilitating a workshop on design, justice, and equity.”