The Design Trust Equitable Public Space Fellowship Program, established in 2016, supports the next generation of urban designers, architects, landscape architects, and planners in contributing to complex public space challenges in our global city.

Having access to the design of one’s neighborhood is too often governed by racism, ageism, and xenophobia. Although these fundamental drivers and their impacts on communities are being more carefully studied by planners, architects, and urban designers, many people are forced to live with the effects. One consequence that emerged is this narrative that labels certain disempowered groups as “hard to reach” communities simply because they don’t have access to the same resources as the loudest voices. 

 To change this narrative, 2020-2021 Equitable Public Space Fellows, Kimberly Mota and Jasmin Tepale recently released an innovative public publication. “Empowered x Design,” is a deep dive into critically analyzing design and planning practices through the experiences of teenage youth and multilingual communities. Kimberly and Jasmin honor the voices and experiences of those not often heard in traditional planning and design spaces, while also bringing to light the policies and practices that perpetuate the exclusion of these groups. Reimagining participatory design, Empowered X Design advocates for a responsibility of giving communities the opportunities to access the power and consensus behind the design of their neighborhoods. 

 After completing their fellowships in Fall 2021, Kimberly now works as the Public Realm Programming & Community Engagement Manager at The Street Plans Collaborative, while Jasmin is the Assistant Borough Planner at the Manhattan Office of the NYC Department of City Planning.