Co-Designing for Racial Equity

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Bianca Nasser June 22, 2018

Designmatters is excited to continue to highlight artists, facilitators and participants from The Antiracist Classroom’s upcoming covening Reconstructing Practice convening to take place on July 13 and 14.

At Reconstructing Practice, Quinton Ward and Andra Lang, Jr.—two members of the Creative Reaction Lab Spring 2018 Apprenticeship Program cohort—and Erika Harano, Associate Manager of Learning and Education at Creative Reaction Lab, will present their experiences, learnings, and challenges faced throughout the program rooted in the Equity-Centered Community Design process during their panel: “Co-Designing for Racial Equity.” The Apprentices will facilitate a group discussion about future design models for institutional stakeholders to implement decision making processes that are more inclusive and equitable, particularly by centering the voices and perspectives of people who are excluded, dismissed, and/or ignored in dominant systems of power.

Today, designers are more frequently placed into roles that were once previously seen as “nontraditional” design contexts, such as urban planning, community development, and civic engagement. As designers begin to occupy space in these industries and issues, it is important that their design approach and decision-making practices are rooted in designing with, not for, the community members directly affected by their designs. Creative Reaction Lab, a nonprofit that acknowledges the design of structural and systemic racism, is investing in developing frameworks that equip young designers to work in these community focused contexts.

Creative Reaction Lab, founded in 2014 in response to the unrest in Ferguson, MO, educates, trains, and challenges youth to co-create solutions with Black and Latinx populations to design healthy and racially equitable communities. Their recent initiative The Community Design Apprenticeship Program: Mobility For All By All was a 10 week program in which Black and Latinx college students, known as Community Design Apprentices, explored the following essential question with Kingshighway residents: “What would public transit do to improve your life?” Throughout the 10 week program apprentices worked closely with residents of St. Louis’ Kingshighway neighborhood to address issues of mobility and access to public transportation.

Community Design Apprentice Quinton Ward was born and raised in Saint Louis, MO and is a recent graduate of Webster University. He received his BFA with an emphasis in graphic design and is also the recipient of the 2018 Arts and Education Council Katherine Dunham Fellowship. In this role, he learned about the field of art administration and be mentored by art professionals. Andra Lang is a native of East St. Louis and an undergraduate at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. He is pursuing a BFA In Fine Arts with a minor in Museum Studies. Lang has worked with  St. Louis Artworks, the St. Louis Zoo, and has also been commissioned by Southern Illinois Healthcare Foundation. Andra sees Reconstructing Practice, “as a platform for bringing awareness to the Kingshighway area, and highlight the work done by Creative Reaction Lab in St.Louis and in surrounding areas.”


Erika Harano, the session’s moderator, is “especially looking forward to candid conversations on growing pains and lessons learned through the process, as well as the successes of this pilot.” Harano sees, “Reconstructing Practice as a fruitful space for some of our Community Design Apprentices to share about their on-the-ground experiences of practicing Equity-Centered Community Design.”

To learn more about Reconstructing Practice you can visit the Antiracist Classroom’s website and see a full list of the event’s programs and featured artists. To hear more from Quinton, Andra, and Erika, get your tickets by June 22nd!