(Left to right: Emmanuel Oni, Alexa Gonzalez, Kate Dodd, and Jah Elyse Sayers)

DT’s current Request for Proposals, The Restorative City, called for projects at the intersection of health equity and the built environment. Alongside the RFP, our mini-grants series was made available to past and current DT fellows to support ongoing work connecting public space to community health. Meet our 2022 winners here!

Design Trust Fellows are top professionals who join our project teams and lead the research, design and planning work. Earlier this year, we put out a second call to our Fellows community offering mini-grants to support ongoing work connected to the RFP theme of health equity. 

Congrats to Alexa Gonzalez, Emmanuel Oni, Jah Elyse Sayers, and Kate Dodd for their selected projects!

Meet our winners below and learn more about their work elevating important conversations around public space, health equity, and wellbeing!

Alexa Gonzalez: Centering BIPOC Stories in Public Space

(Neighborhood Commons Design Fellow 2020-2022)

Alexa’s “Weaving Paths” is a platform for sharing stories that took place in public spaces within BIPOC neighborhoods. 

Alexa on her project: “This creative storytelling art series will empower and celebrate BIPOC communities by preserving our culture and memories in a tangible way."

As part of this funding, a chalk QR code will be installed on public spaces to link us to audio recordings of stories that took place there. Capturing its current life and sounds, the audio will serve as an interactive way-finding piece that will document how the neighborhood has changed and will highlight existing spatial and programmatic opportunities and challenges.

Alexa is an architect and urban designer. She is the President and Co-Founder of Hive Public Space, a Women-led urban design and placemaking consultancy based in New York City.

Learn more about Alexa’s work with Design Trust improving public space governance in commercial districts on our Neighborhood Commons Project.

Jah Elyse Sayer: Protecting Queer Community Space at Jacob Riis 

(Equitable Public Space Fellow, 2016.)

Jah’s project will use participatory action research and community-based planning practices to create a storytelling strategy toward both protecting the queer beach at Jacob Riis Park as a National Historic Landmark and advocating for community-supportive uses and infrastructure at an adjacent city-owned property upon which a disused hospital will soon be demolished. 

Jah on how they envision a healthy city: “To have a healthy city, we need a city built around healing justice. Cara Page and the Kindred Southern Healing Justice Collective describe healing justice as ‘identif[ying] how we can holistically respond to and intervene on generational trauma and violence, and [bringing] collective practices that can impact and transform the consequences of oppression on our bodies, hearts, and minds.’ For me, this description prompts the questions: What do generational traumas and violences look like at the scale of the city?, What consequences of oppression have shaped our built environments and institutions?, What infrastructures support the collective practices of healing that are already in motion?, and What infrastructures might connect us in our struggles for collective healing? When we integrate these questions into our work, it becomes more possible to see and nourish often under-resourced collective healing infrastructures built across environmental, racial, disability, gender, sexual, migrant, and economic justice movements in order to unsettle oppression, domination, and exploitation and bring a healing city more and more into being.”

Jah is an Environmental Psychology PhD student and Participatory Action Research Fellow with GLITS.

Learn more about Jah’s work with the Design Trust as an Equitable Public Space Fellow.

Emmanuel Oni: Healing in the Wake of Gun Violence

(Opening the Edge Active Design Fellow 2018-2022)

Emmanuel’s “Beyond Memorial” is an art, spatial, and healing justice response to these invisible, yet palpable community scars left in spaces after gun violence.

Emmanuel on building a healthier community: “I envision that a healthy city is more than prescribed green spaces and bicycle lanes. Simply, it’s dependent on the self-reliance of the people that inhabit it.”

Emmanuel is an architectural designer interested in using design as a catalyst for social change, and has experience in the arts as a painter and arts facilitator.

Learn more about Emmanuel’s work with the Design Trust creating resident-designed community green space at NYCHA developments 

Kate Dodd: Connecting Climate Change to Community Health

(Designing For Children In Community Gardens Design Fellow 1997– 1998)

Kate’s work with CLEaR (Climate Library Experience and Receptacle) is intended to increase awareness of the impact climate change has on neighborhood streetscapes, and therefore on community residents and their health, through participation in a site-specific installation at the local library. This is one of ten artworks being organized by Stand4 Gallery, which will become a hub to present interactive projects that will go into the public spaces of Bay Ridge and connect people to the nature and ecology of Bay Ridge.

Kate on community organizing and wellbeing:  “A healthy city is a place where the inhabitants support each other in maintaining each other's well being, through everything from environmental knowledge, to voting for conscientious representatives and holding them accountable, to equitable distribution of resources, to individual acts of kindness and consideration.

Kate has exhibited her artwork nationally in museums, galleries, and colleges, and has been teaching art in public and private schools for 30 years.

Learn more about Kate’s work with the Design Trust designing innovative models for urban play spaces.

Photos (3)

Jah Elyse Sayers

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Collage by Jah Elyse Sayers. Image sources: Advertisement for Neponsit. New York Tribune. April 9, 1913. p. 14.; Jason Moskowitz Photography. "Beach Clock, Jacob Riis Park." Getty Images. Accessed 2022.; Stefan Falk.  "Jacob Riis Park." StefanFalk.com. 2010. Accessed 2020.; two photos by Sayers. 2018 and 2020.

Emmanuel Oni

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“Beyond Memorial”

Kate Dodd

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