Working with Griot Museum to design the Choteau Greenway with Design Justice in mind..

This semester Mallory and I will be working on the Choteau Greenway project in St. Louis.  For this project, we will be partnering with the Griot Museum, a museum that collects, perserves, and shares Black history, stories, and culture using art, artifacts, memorabilia, and life size wax figurines.

As an outsider to St. Louis, I expect that I will need to use the design justice principle of seeing the designer as a facilitator rather than an expert.  I plan to use my inquiry skills to learn from the expertise of the Griot Museum, Mallory as a native St. Louisan, and Mallory’s fellow designers.  By having a learning, facilitator mindset, I think this will also help me make sure that our work is centering the voices of those who are directly impacted by the outcomes of the design process and priotize design’s impact on the community over the intentions of the designer.

I also want this project to use design to sustain, heal, and empower our communities and seek liberation from explotative and oppressive systems. I know this is a lofty goal, and I think that Mallory and I are both excited about the opportunity to use a greenway to break down spatial barriers between people.  Though I am an outsider to St. Louis, I am a member of communities of color and a community that wants to highlight Black history.  I am eager for Mallory and I to think creatively and intentionally about how our design can connect people to the resouces of the Griot Museum and learn to see the power of Black history, culture, and stories.

I think the design justice principle that will be the most challenging for us to continually apply will be remembering that change comes from an accountable, acessible, and collaborative process, rather than a point at the end of the process.  A design for the Choteau Greenway is a concrete final outcome and there will be many stakeholders who will be pushing us to get to that final outcome.

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