Insights After Three Months Public

We have learned a lot in the past few months after launching the OAC. I personally continue to draw inspiration from the many people I’ve met while building partnerships and visiting chapters and participating in local events. Whether it be sitting on a panel discussion in New York, getting grilled with the tough questions at a happy hour in DC, or strategizing the function of a chapter in Austin with allied organizations, I acknowledge the openness and honesty required of this current role, and the need, now more than ever, to continuously build safe and inclusive spaces.

Through countless conversations with chapter and regional leaders and other trailblazers of the Public Interest Design field a few points of insight have risen to the top that will help frame our strategy. It is imperative to clearly state our unique value added to the field in which we work and to the mission behind why we do this work. At the highest level there are four main insights to share.

  • We need to dive deeper into confronting our privilege while engaging in volunteer work.
  • Establishing best practices and a more rigorous training component behind our design, organizing, and facilitation techniques is vital to delivering quality service.
  • In an effort to test our conceived strengths we should consider that a large value of our’s might be in identifying local needs, building relationships, and connecting organizations to other design firms to execute the projects.
  • As a network we need to acknowledge the incredible organizations that have developed alongside the chapters over the past 16 years, and support our work as a field in gathering people together and sharing stories in an effort to work towards outcomes we wish to see.

As we continue to develop our strategy and business throughout the year I invite you to imagine a supportive future for the public interest design field. Imagine an organization that convenes the most talented individuals and organizations who are stretching the definition of architecture and design. Imagine a network you can tap into where you could build the community engagement skills, get the business acumen, and take the time to reflect on who you are and what your role is while doing public interest design.

Imagine a group that supported you to challenge the status quo of how your profession operates, and even invests in the most daring and empathetic ideas to create equity within the built environment. And imagine the global affinity group that supported you doing the most needed work of today while advocating for those we work with.

Working to bring these visions to life is my own way of Opening Architecture. Beginning next week we will start a summer long campaign where we’d like to hear from you about why you open architecture. Stay tuned for next Tuesday and the formal announcement. Start thinking of how, why, and for whom you do this work!