What Would ‘Design Justice’ Mean for Trenton?
Trenton, NJ — Trenton Health Team hosted a free online discussion at Saturday April 10 featuring architect and former Trenton resident Bryan C. Lee Jr. exploring how urban planning and design impacts our lives and how we can strengthen communities through “design justice.” VIEW VIDEO OF PRESENTATION
The event, titled “Power and Place,” encouraged participants to imagine what our city could look like if we made decisions grounded in social justice principles. Using local examples, Lee, who recently taught a design studio at the Harvard Graduate School of Design focused on Trenton, showed how architecture and planning not grounded in design justice actually create injustice toward communities.
“Equity requires recognizing the role of histories of inequity in shaping our society and actively addressing the ongoing effects of those legacies, as well as working to dismantle barriers to opportunity, access, and inclusion moving forward,” Lee states on his website.
Historic processes such as redlining, urban renewal, and strip mall development have harmed neighborhoods and communities, particularly communities of color, by removing gathering spaces and opportunities to interact, Lee notes. Even modern developments are typically designed as separate from the surrounding community, rather than including and uplifting them.
Lee’s firm Colloqate Design is a multidisciplinary nonprofit design justice practice based in New Orleans, LA, working to expand community access to, and build power through, design of social, civic, and cultural spaces.
This was the final event in THT’s “How Spaces Shape Us” speaker series, supported by The Nicholson Foundation to spark civic dialogue around social justice and equity issues. Previous speakers included Dr. Mindy Fullilove, a social psychiatrist and author whose research examines how the urban environment influences mental health and community, and artist, educator and author Endia Beal exploring the realities and challenges for women of color in the workplace.
“THT has worked with community partners for more than a decade in Trenton to improve health equity,” said THT Executive Director Gregory Paulson. “We recognize health cannot improve without addressing community conditions, social justice, and bias. We are grateful to The Nicholson Foundation for enabling us to bring these nationally recognized speakers here to share their unique perspectives with our community and help us develop creative solutions.”