Design Dash 2017

Open Arch Collab
Dec 20, 2017 · 8 min read

A creative placemaking program

Maria and the California Hotel team planning their Pedestrian Safety Campaign during the launch Charette

Design Dash is an annual creative placemaking program produced by the San Pablo Area Revitalization Collaborative (SPARC) with support from the East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation (EBALDC), an affordable housing developer. Design Dash is a direct investment in local leaders and the projects they envision for the West Oakland neighborhoods around the San Pablo Avenue corridor. This was the third iteration of the program envisioned by Annie Ledbury, a Program Manager and former Architectural Rose Fellow at EBALDC. This year Annie brought on the Open Architecture Collaborative (OAC) to support the production of all activities.

We kicked off the program by conducting community outreach to all SPARC partners and community members soliciting projects. Each project would receive $1,000 in seed funding, the in-kind support of professional designers, guidance from the program managers, meeting space, and capacity building trainings along the way.

Six project leaders were interviewed, vetted and accepted into the program by early August. At the same time the OAC was recruiting the designers to support each project. After receiving 25 applications, six designers were interviewed and chosen. Annie and Garrett, the OAC program manager, worked to create support documents for the teams and brought in local subject matter experts to run trainings in facilitation and collaborative decision making.

The desired outcome for the OAC was to showcase how design can bring people from different background together, dismantle stereotypes and alter the narrative of how people effecttheir own environments. We also tested capacity building training methods.

Once the local leaders and designers were on-boarded, signed commitment letters and acknowledged the OAC Code of Conduct, teams were formed and SPARC held a kickoff Charette. The six projects were:

1: Popup Library

Goal: How might we provide the most informative and fun library experience for children and adults, and raise awareness of a larger campaign to bring back a permanent library to the neighborhood?

A project to show support to replace this branch library destroyed in the 1970’s to make way for a highway overpass.

2: Pedestrian Safety Campaign

Goal: How might we help bring attention to and improve pedestrian safety along San Pablo Ave. in front of the California Hotel?

Dangerous intersection of 34th St. Linden and San Pablo Ave. being chalked by team leaders

3: St. Mary’s Portraits and Quotes

Goal: How might we express identity and inspire through quotes and portraits along San Pablo Ave?

Volunteer day with local high school students to give the fence a fresh coat

4: Community Food Justice Mural

Goal: How might we improve the overall look of San Pablo Ave., inspire pride and identity and raise awareness around lack of access to healthy food in the area?

Corner store location of the KMBA mural

5: Graffiti Replacement Mural

Goal: How might we revitalize our neighborhood and improve the aesthetics of graffitied property to show that people are invested in their streets?

Tagged storefront for the location of the BAMP mural

6: Giveback Mural

Goal: How might we prevent out of town graffiti and inspire local action through art?

KES Fitness the site for the giveback mural

After the initial Charette on August 12th the teams were on their own to schedule meetings and develop project plans, schedules, and budgets to be presented on September 13th.

Andre ‘Natty Rebel’ Jones presenting their first design at the budget meeting

At this time the OAC leveraged their partnership with EBALDC, a known reliable community developer in the East Bay, to find additional funding for the program. A grant was received from the Walter and Elise Haas Fund which increased the project budgets to $2,100 and provided funds for trainings, evaluation, and other program support.

While the projects were getting underway trainings were held for local leaders and designers. Together we reflected on our personal identities and privilege as well and learned community engagement tactics from local environmental justice experts from the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project.

Designers share challenges of facilitation and group decision making
Designers learn new techniques for encouraging people to share and reflect

With four of the six projects completed by the time we held a holiday party on December 13th we are pleased with the results. The holiday party also proved a successful event where members form the local houseless community participated, ate, and danced with the project leaders and designers!

Here are some outcomes from each of the projects:

1: Popup Library

This is one part of a much larger ongoing campaign from the Hoover Foster Resident Action Committee to bring back a neighborhood library branch that was demolished for the construction of a freeway in the early 1970’s. With strong local organizing, project leader, Alternier Baker Cook collects books every week to give away while local Architect June Grant of BlinkLab! Designs the structure of the popup to be moved around to different sites in the neighborhood to inspire as many people as possible to support the campaign. This project also includes collecting local stories and imagery that will be projected during the popups. The first event was held on December 9th. Avni Shah, the support designer has been capturing local stories from local leaders.

Project Images on the Friends of Hoover Durant Public Library Facebook Page

The Library team discussing plans for the popup

2: Pedestrian Safety Campaign

The California Hotel is a historic building which used to anchor the African American community as a venue for live music throughout the early 20th century. It was purchased by EBALDC and converted to affordable housing. This sits on San Pablo Avenue which is a major thoroughfare which cars speed by hardly noticing the residential character of the area. There are many pedestrian and cyclist casualties and even two residents of the building who have been killed. The leadership council met weekly to organize a street closure and protest at one of the most dangerous intersections adjacent to their home.

“We’re fed up with people getting hurt at the crosswalk, and we have kids that don’t know where the crosswalk is, why not have some signage for cars to slow down so they can just know were to cross safely. This is about us, the kids, the elderly: a safer place to live and a safer area. ”said Tyana Rose Niles — California Hotel Resident and a group leader.

Team leaders make a defiant speech recalling friends who had been killed and the need to infrastructure spending at this site.

The group issued a press release, pulled a street closure permit, and with the help of Walk Oakland Bike Oakland got over 50 signatures and gave away over 60 bright colored t-shirts. Representatives of the city, state and local council member’s offices were there to see the event.

Karl Jr. painting the intersection with chalk paint

3: St. Mary’s Portraits and Quotes

Project leader Janny Castillo, St. Mary’s Seniors for Hope & Justice Program Coordinator, took portraits of local seniors, conducted interviews to collect quotes, and met with their Justice Committee to design signs that would be posted on the fences outside of their facility. Janny also organized a fews painting days to bring the fence up to standards before mounting of the signs. The signs are going through their final designs with additional graphic design support.

Latest design of the panels to be mounted on the St. Mary’s Center fence

4: Community Food Justice Mural

The Kiss My Black Arts Collective led this mural effort while Lina Ghanem, the volunteer urbanist, led on organizing efforts with local urban farms. The goal of this mural was to raise awareness of locally available fresh produce and seedlings while pressuring the corner store where the mural was painted to provide more fresh produce. Many local farms donated fresh produce and seedlings to give away during the painting of the mural.

Rtystic beginning to paint while giving out produce and seedlings from local farms
The “sign” for what’s available

5: Graffiti Replacement Mural

Andre Jones AKA ‘Natty Rebel’ led the outreach and execution of this mural which evolved into a representation and commentary on the housing situation in Oakland. It was also a perfect time to launch the Bay Area Mural Program. Andre ran a couple painting classes for local youth to devise the design and had multiple community painting days with many neighbors and youth participating.

Community painting day with many local kids participating
Finished product inspired by John Biggers

6: Giveback Mural

Renata and her daughter diving in

Renata Foucre, a West Oakland neighborhood leader, caught a couple graffiti taggers. As a reward she received half of the fine for the out of town tagers. Being the leader she is, Renata thought to invest the $500 back into the community with a beautiful mural that would deter tagging. She partnered with local resident and Muralist Dave Kim to paint a mural depicting local physical fitness on the side of a martial arts gym after a few engagement meetings with local students. Their community painting day saw many local residents pickup up paint brushes to contribute!

The finished product by the community under the direction of Dave Kim

We will wrap up the final two projects by the end of January and conduct an evaluation of the program. In February we will release a video with more information and feedback. We look forward to sharing the findings in detail along with the many lessons learned throughout the process.

A huge thank you to all the participants and leaders who devoted so much time and energy to these projects!

Local leaders:

Alternier Baker Cook and the Library Committee of the Hoover Foster RAC, Andre ‘Natty Rebel’ Jones and the Bay Area Mural Program, Janny Castillo, Derek ‘Rtystic’ Shavers and the Kiss My Black Arts Collective, Renata Foucre, and the Leadership Committee of the California Hotel — Monique Kennedy, Tyana Niles Rose, Cocovula Lumukanda, Robin, Gregory ‘Coach’ Brenon and others.

Designer facilitators:

Avni Shah, Anna Misharina, Dioni Rey, Diana Ariza, June Grant, Lina Ghanem, and Lora Martens

Design supporters:

Jordan Green, Yuko Okamura, Alisa Nadolishny, Sarah Lum, Maria Williford, and Sarah Hart

Local trainers:

James Rojas of PLACE-IT!, Shalini Agrawal of CCA Center for Art and Public Life, Brian Beveridge and Ms. Margaret Gordon of WOEIP, and Susana Morales and Heather Imboden of Communities in Collaboration.

A big thank you and congratulations to Annie Ledbury for the completion of her third Design Dash, a program which she launched at the beginning of her Rose Fellowship!

Thanks to Phat Luv Band for the music and entertainment at the holiday party!

If you feel inspired and would like to see more of this work next year, please consider donating for 2018 activities!

Donate Via Paypal Giving Fund to waive all fees

Open Arch Collab

Written by

The Open Architecture Collaborative is a global learning network to mobilize architects and designers towards greater community good.

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade