Garrett Jacobs: Architecture in pursuit of justice and equity (October 19, 2022)



After Erik Ghenoiu’s introduction, Garrett Jacobs asks everyone in the audience to search the Native Land Digital (https://native-land.ca/) website, find for the names of the indigenous peoples relevant to their home area, and recite together, “I’m on the unceded, colonized land of the [name] people”.

Jacobs describes arriving in New Orleans to study architecture at Tulane just before Hurricane Katrina, which started him on a “trajectory of trying to understand how to connect my own learning, journey, healing and evolution to the practice of architecture, and spaces, and the environments that we all work in.”

He worked with Architecture for Humanity from 2012 to its closure in 2015, after which he became part of the nonprofit that grew out of it, Open Architecture Collaborative, mobilizing architects and other professionals to build capacity with communities experiencing systemic racism and marginalization.

The experience of working on community empowerment projects in Oakland led to the launch of Pathways to Equity (2018-present), a program of workshops for designers “… to slow down and reflect on our role, professional practices, communities, and ourselves.” One P2E project enabled a community group, the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project (WOEIP), to engage productively with the Oakland Athletics in planning a new stadium.
Jacobs discusses several projects he worked on with another nonprofit, Designing Justice Designing Spaces, including:

•An adaptive reuse building, Restore Oakland (2019), for the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United and the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, housing Alameda County’s restorative justice programs.
•Hope Reentry Campus (in development). A collaboration with Building Opportunities for Self Sufficiency (BOSS) providing “onsite access to job training, advanced education, social services, a well-designed place to live, and a spiritual home for 40 formerly incarcerated men”
•Mobile Refuge Room prototypes for reentry housing (2020)
•Pop-up Village mobile site activation project (2015-present)
•Grand River @ 14th mixed-use development in Detroit
•FLOW (For the Love of Well-being) Youth Center concept paper (2022)
•Youth Justice Reimagined research, with the L.A. County Youth Justice Work Group

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