March 20, 2014

Field Notes: Bringing Design Diversity to Northeast Ohio

By Erick Rodriguez, Enterprise Rose Architectural Fellow

The current Enterprise Rose Architectural Fellows share their ideas, inspirations and photos from the field on our blog. Learn more about the Fellowship.

A few weeks ago, I met with David Jurca, the Assistant Director of Kent State’s Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative. Before we met, I learned about CUDC’s extensive involvement in design related issues across Northeast Ohio. CUDC initiates research that explores the relationship between social, urban and natural environments. They also frequently collaborate with local partners to provide design services and to facilitate community engagement throughout the region. During my visit, David informed me of a new initiative taking root at CUDC called Design Diversity, a small group made up of Cleveland architects, urban designers and graphic designers bringing together their unique skill sets and diverse ethnic backgrounds to expand the presence of local African American designers in Northeast Ohio.

Design Diversity proposes to:

  • EDUCATE the African American community, specifically youth, about the range of design careers available
  • CONNECT professionals across design disciplines to grow a thriving local community
  • CELEBRATE the accomplishments of African Americans in the design professions and share their success stories

The connection to youth across Cleveland will play a key role in building the future capacity for young minorities to enter design related fields. Talent and inspiration amongst urban youth can easily dissipate when it is not nourished within schools, in the city, or at home. Design Diversity will harvest creativity, exploration, and discovery to expose young individuals to mentors and allies in the profession. A few weeks ago, the initiative hosted a kick-off event "Powered by Pecha Kucha" in downtown Cleveland. Backed with the support from CUDC staff, alumni and others, Design Diversity is in a great position to impact the makeup of the design related fields for future generations.

In the next few months, I will be seeking opportunities to help build the momentum of Design Diversity. On April 25, I am scheduled to be back at CUDC to speak with students about the work I helped facilitate through CITY ART PLAY, a community based arts program in Los Angeles. During this session, I hope to foster a conversation around the importance of diversity in design and discuss effective ways to achieve it.

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