Diversity & Equity Resources

Articles for Black History Month 2021

Articles about Juneteenth and Slavery in Canada

Introducing Co-Design Now! by Common Space Coalition

Co-design Now! is a map-based, spatialized resource - that highlights community groups, local initiatives, and grassroots organizations, all in one place.

This project aims to amplify the work of community organizations and initiatives across Toronto’s Neighbourhood Improvement Areas to foster engagement between them and designers to strengthen the resiliency of placemaking and city-building practice. Through the process of crowdsourcing information on grassroots organizations and placemaking initiatives, we hope this resource will expand and deepen cross-disciplinary relationships and raise awareness for design as a vehicle for activism.

It’s time to push our conventional practice to analyze and incorporate social movements, cultural histories, and community leaders in our work.

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How cities can avoid ‘green gentrification’ and make urban forests accessible

As society “builds back better” from COVID-19, cities are increasingly aware of the importance of urban nature — particularly their urban forests — and are working to make it accessible to everyone. Urban trees and parks are inequitably distributed across many cities around the world. Socio-economically marginalized people tend to have less access to urban forests, and would likely gain health benefits from them.

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Design as Activism

Landscape Architecture Education for Social Change: A Framework for Actions and Other Propositions

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When Planning Conferences, Start with Diversity

Landscape architects, urban planners, and architects can build solidarity with the social and environmental justice movements by creating conferences that use diversity, equity, and inclusion as a guiding framework. 

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2019 LAF Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Surveys

The survey results affirm that the landscape architectural discipline is concerned with DEI but largely sees the demographics of hiring pools as the main issue. However, firms were also interested in contract language and human resources tools that might help them to better embody diversity, equity, and inclusion in their workplaces.

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Awake to Woke to Work: Building a Race and Equity Culture

Equity in the Center works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems within the social sector to increase racial equity. We envision a future where nonprofit and philanthropic organizations advance race equity internally while centering it in their work externally.  

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Design Justice for Black Lives

The fight against racism and police brutality demands we leverage our professional connections and privileges in the name of advancing justice. We need to make sure that professional organizations, leading firms & offices, and local professional organizers hear our demands and use their power to establish policy that advances justice within our fields. 

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Designing for Diversity and Diversity in Design: Kona Gray, ASLA

Kona Gray, ASLA, discusses the importance of diversity within the landscape architecture profession at the ASLA 2016 Annual Meeting.

Learn more (YouTube video)

Hogan’s Alley Society

The Hogan’s Alley Society advocates for Black Vancouverites who have endured the legacies of urban renewal and their erasure from the official historical narrative. Through their initiatives, they hope to build the capacity of racialized and marginalized communities to participate in city building.

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The relationship between placemaking and inclusion

The recent spectacle of Black Lives Matter demonstrators pulling down and tossing the statue of slave trader Edward Colston in the river in Bristol will rest in the public consciousness for decades. The event was about so much more than an iconoclastic uprising. It was about the need for public spaces to reflect a sense of respect and inclusion for the people who live in and use them.

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Hans Baumann - Immaterial Outcomes

Hans reflects upon his long-term collaboration with the Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indians, sharing how landscape can act as a medium of communication between design methodology and Indigenous knowledge. His work presents the case for why landscape architects must engage with North America's diverse tribal peoples during an era of unprecedented ecological change.

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Pierre Bélanger - Landscape as Foundation for revolution and Resistance

If landscape is a foundation for revolution and resistance to dominant forms of spatial control and political hegemonies, then the design disciplines must confront their legacy rooted in dispossession, domination, and exploitation. So, what if environmental justice was our ground zero? Who then, would we be accountable to? Landscape architects must decide if they want to champion change by engaging in deep dialogues about spatial injustice and racial erasure to rise up against legacies of white supremacy and dismantle settler colonialism. Opening a lens on the past to better understand the extreme climate of oppression and inequalities today, overlooked voices from the past 25 years shed light on alternative worlds, reciprocal ways of working, and just relations for the next generation.

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Nick Jabs - Working Landscapes and the Middle American City

Nick's research explores the past and present condition of Middle American cities through the evolution and intersection of their working landscapes and public realm. The project positions the Green New Deal within this context and seeks to amplify the influence of the design profession by actively engaging with spatial, political, and economic drivers of their urban condition.

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Jeff Hou - Design as Activism: Educating for Social Change

Facing environmental and social crises on a global scale, how can landscape architecture education prepare students to become changemakers in meeting these challenges? Working with a group of educators around the United States and using findings from an online survey and interviews with practitioners and program leaders, this project presents a framework of actions to reposition and transform landscape architecture education for social change.

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LAND from ASLA: The Landscapes of Enslavement

Just a few decades ago, the story of African American slaves would have been brushed over, sanitized, or, even worse, left blank. Now, a few brave public educators, academics, photographers, and historians are shaping new, complicated, and layered stories that honor the truth and dignity of those who were enslaved. They show that landscapes can tell the story of American history in all its beauty and horror.

We invite you to learn about the full symposium with The Landscapes of Enslavement (Part 1) and The Landscapes of Enslavement (Part 2).

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75 Things White People Can Do for Racial Justice

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Harvard University tool to assess your own implicit biases about race, gender, sexual orientation and much more

Take the test

The Planner's Beginner Guide to the #BlackLivesMatter Movement

This compilation of resources is meant to be a starter guide for those looking to educate themselves on the #BLM Movement. This document was compiled solely by myself, Danielle Dirksen, from outside sources and does not necessarily reflect on the views of METRANS Transportation Center or its partners. I do not claim creation of any materials listed. 

This is from my point of view as a white USC student and as a future transportation planner looking to do better, both from the white-privilege and urban planning perspectives. I hope that you choose to make positive change in the (transportation) planning profession for all, especially for Black folks. 

Download the document (PDF)

A Call to Courage: An Open Letter to Canadian Urbanists by Jay Pitter

"Dear Canadian Urbanists,

Cities across North America are aglow with rage and unwavering cries for justice. While leaders throughout the entertainment, sports and business sectors have issued statements formally denouncing anti-Black racism, mainstream urbanists have, for the most part, remained silent. This is disheartening given that a civil uprising is unfolding against the backdrop of the public realm—the central domain of urbanism practitioners. Consequently, as a public housing kid turned award-winning placemaker, with a practice spanning both Canadian and North American cities where beloved colleagues are risking their lives on the front lines, I’m compelled to issue this call to courage."

Read the full letter (PDF)

How do we respond to anti-Black racism in urbanist practices and conversations? (Video)

A candid conversation with Jay Pitter: what's working, what's not, what's next?

Watch the video




Black Landscapes Matter - Kofi Boone, ASLA

"It may be time to not only think about how Landscape Architecture can better serve Black communities, but also to be honest about the need to begin a radical rethink of the profession."

Professor Boone focuses on the changing nature of communities, and developing tools for enhanced community engagement and design. Through scholarship, teaching, and extension service, Professor Boone works in the landscape context of environmental justice, and his research includes the use of new media as a means of increasing community input in design and planning processes. Professor Boone is the recipient of several awards including the Opal Mann Green Engagement Scholarship Award, the Department of Landscape Architecture Professor of the Year, and the Alumni Association Outstanding Teacher.

Watch Kofi Boone's recent video, Black Landscapes Matter, HERE. Read his article by the same title HERE

Spatial Equity in the Time of Covid 19 | Kurt Culbertson 

The imperative for designers to create spaces of great social interaction that bring together diverse, multi-generational populations is now being questioned in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Yet out of this crisis and chaos can come lasting opportunities to rethink the nature of work, to redefine resiliency to address challenges of pandemics and other health crisis, and to examine the equitable design of public spaces which are flexible and adaptable to a new understanding of public health. The pandemic has been particularly devastating for seniors, low income communities, and people of color. In the face of our current challenges, we need to determine the place of landscape architects in crafting a safer, more equitable society. 

View the recording HERE

LAF: Caño Martin Peña Restoration Project

In Puerto Rico—even before Hurricane María—the communities along the eastern half of the Caño Martín Peña, a tidal channel within the San Juan Bay Estuary, faced public health and safety challenges. Buena Vista Santurce is a community that was settled informally in the mangrove wetlands there in the early 1900s. The neighborhood lacks critical infrastructure—sanitary sewer systems, storm drainage systems, flood protection, access to public open spaces, among others. Repetitive flooding, typically by contaminated water, has had serious health impacts on the residents, especially the children. Hurricanes Irma and María exacerbated these conditions.

In 2016, as part of the larger Comprehensive Development Plan for the Caño Martin Peña led by ENLACE, Spackman Mossop Michaels was awarded funding through the EPA Smart Growth Implementation Assistance Program to work on green infrastructure design options for the community. The collaborative process involved multiple community-based meetings and workshops. The final report proposes a series of interconnected water plazas and green infrastructure to clean the water and reduce flooding, while also creating a framework of civic open spaces to strengthen the social fabric of the community.

Register for this webinar HERE
To view recordings of past LAF Webinars, click HERE

PlacemakingUS: Porch Talk: Race and Place

Join a diverse panel of voices shaping the dialogue around urbanism, place and space for a national porch-to-porch talk on "Race and Place." The panel includes Jay Pitter, award winning placemaker and author of a forthcoming book Where We Live, from Toronto.

Watch the recording of the June 4, 2020 discussion HERE

There's Something in the Water

An examination of environmental racism, the film explores the disproportionate effect of environmental damage on Black Canadian and First Nations communities in Nova Scotia. If you have Netflix, you can watch the full documentary HERE

Ingrid Waldron, the author of the book that inspired the documentary, also gives a Tedx Talk on Environmental Justice in Mi'kmaq & African Nova Scotian Communities. Watch it HERE

Urbanarium Vancouver: Urbanarium Smart City Talks | Putting People First 

A dialogue on Vancouver's public spaces in partnership with City of Vancouver's Places for People and VIVA Vancouver.

Moderator: Derek Lee, MBCSLA, PWL Partnership
Speakers: Jay Pitter, author and placemaker; John Bela, Gehl Studio; Kelty McKinnon, MBCSLA, director/principal of PFS Studio, adjunct professor at UBC

This conversation was recorded on December 17, 2019. Watch the recording HERE

CSLA | AAPC 12 Forillon Crescent, Ottawa ON K2M 2W5