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Not all public spaces are created equal. Transformative planning and urban design begins with addressing historic and current experiences of racism and exclusion. But what does that mean in practice? Join the conversation with creative community leaders about what it means to design for spatial justice. We’ll explore how skate parks, sidewalk kitchens, and “dance courts” can change how public space is used, who feels welcome in it, and how inclusive creative placemaking can help lead the way toward lasting spatial justice.

Part III: Making it Concrete: Planning and Designing Public Spaces for Spatial Justice is part three of Whose Public? Planning and Placemaking for Welcoming Public Spaces, a three-part discussion series that explores the role that planners, artists, and government staff can play in shaping just, joyful, and inclusive public spaces.


Three headshots, one man and two women, all indoors.
(left to right) Kenneth Bailey, Theresa Hyuna Hwang, and Jessica V. Vilas Novas

Kenneth Bailey, co-founder, Design Studio for Social Intervention

Kenneth Bailey is the co-founder of the Design Studio for Social Intervention. His interests focus on the research and development of design tools for marginalized communities to address complex social issues. With over three decades of experience in community practice, Bailey brings a unique perspective on the ethics of design in relation to community engagement, the arts and cultural action. Projects he has produced at ds4si include Action Lab (2012- 2014), Public Kitchen (2011-2018), Social Emergency Response Center (SERC, 2017), People’s Redevelopment Authority (2018) and inPUBLIC (2019). Bailey was recently a Visiting Scholar in collaboration with University of Tasmania and also a founding member of Theatrum Mundi NYC with Richard Sennett. He is currently pursuing his MFA at Bennington College. His new book (co-authored with DS4SI) is entitled “Ideas—Arrangements--Effects: Systems Design and Social Justice” (Minor Compositions, 2020). 

Theresa Hyuna Hwang, director of Department of Places, a participatory design and community engagement practice, Los Angeles, CA 

Theresa Hyuna Hwang is a community-engaged architect, educator, and facilitator. She has spent over 13 years focused on equitable cultural and community development with multiple groups and campaigns.  

Theresa/Hyuna draws upon her experiences as a second generation Corean-American cis-woman, middle child, Libra sun with a Virgo rising, and more recently, as a solo parent and mother to a young child, to hold spaces of honest dialogue, shared creation, and deep listening, to address personal and collective neighborhood-based trauma and design solutions based on first-hand experiences, centering those who have been most impacted. 

Additionally, she is the Program Director of Design Futures Student Leadership Forum, a national initiative focused on elevating the role of designer in dismantling systems of inequality. She was the former Director of Community Design and Planning at the Skid Row Housing Trust, a non-profit permanent supportive housing organization where she was the Enterprise Rose Architectural Fellow from 2009-2012. Her work has been featured in Architectural Record, the New York Times, City Lab, Al-Jazeera America and other media outlets. She was recognized as one of Next City’s Urban Vanguards in 2015.  She received her Master of Architecture from Harvard Graduate School of Design (2007) and a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering and Art History from the Johns Hopkins University (2001). She is a licensed architect in California and is a LEED accredited professional. 

Jessica V. Vilas Novas, director, Lawrence Public Library, Lawrence, MA 

 Jessica V. Vilas Novas currently serves as the Director of the Lawrence Public Library. She is responsible for the planning and supervision of the operations of both branches, overseeing the development of library policies, programs, procedures and managing a $1.6M budget and a staff of over 25. Jessica has focused her role on re-envisioning the Library to be a community hub for the arts, culture, and life-long learning. She was appointed to the Director role by the Library Board of Trustees in the fall of 2016. Prior to joining the Library, Jessica spent years working in the medical field in Boston and Los Angeles before discovering her passion for community engagement and desire to provide equitable access for all. Her introduction to nonprofit was at UTEC in Lowell, where she discovered many of the tools she uses today in her work. For a couple years, she led an intergenerational community writing group out of El Taller in downtown Lawrence, drawing dozens of Lawrence residents and residents from nearby towns to weekly meet ups. Jessica currently serves as Board President of the Lawrence-based youth development and social justice focused art nonprofit, Elevated Thought, Inc.  

A Lawrencian, Jessica is raising her baby Ava and stepson Jordan with her husband Will in Lawrence with a view of City Hall from their window. She enjoys traveling, hiking, dining, and spending time with the family.  

Jessica graduated from Northeastern University with a B.S. in Biology, and also holds an M.Ed in Community Engagement from Merrimack College and a MS in Library Science from Simmons University. She recently earned a certificate in nonprofit management and leadership from Tufts University through the Institute for Nonprofit Practice program. 

'Public Art, Public Places'

This mini-series is part of an ongoing “Public Art, Public Places”, an ongoing collaboration between the Metropolitan Area Planning Council and the New England Foundation for the Arts that hosts cross-sector conversations for planners, artists, culture bearers, and community leaders.

To learn more about our Public Art programs, visit our Public Art Program Page.

Read "Refusing the Past, Imagining the Future" by Lori Lobenstine to learn more about spatial justice.

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