DAYLIGHT // S1 E2 - Moving the Needle towards Justice

We asked a few citizens to respond the this prompt after attending our DAYLIGHT event on Inclusive Design. 

Meg Storrow mentioned that 'Branding for inclusivity is different than designing for it.' And John Hay followed up by stating that community change 'shouldn't start until you've envisioned the future.' In some ways, branding is a way of envisioning the future, but in thinking about inclusive design, who is envisioning this future? And, as Starla pointed out, who is missing from this conversation? For those who are missing, how can designers make sure those people feel welcome in the finished product? 

My background is in community organizing.  I am constantly asking myself, how can we empower ourselves to make a change? How can I, in my current line of work, empower our communities to feel as though they have a say in what happens in their neighborhoods? How can we collectively move the needle towards justice?  I am not an architect, nor do I know much about urban planning, but for the last decade I have been fortunate enough to learn about people and their stories.  It is important that we remember the history of the neighborhoods we serve.  With such a fast-changing Indianapolis, it is becoming very difficult to engage our neighbors in every step of the way. There is a big vision for this place we all come home and it is critical to be inclusive in the process.  There are many exciting pieces to the vision such as the Marion County’s Transit Plan, Great Places 2020, and the Community Justice Campus to name a few, but are we doing all we can to ensure everyone has a seat at the table?

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At Daylight’s Series 1, Episode 2, panel moderator, Starla Hart asked, “who are the people missing from the conversation?” I enjoy the culture of collaboration that exists in Indianapolis and believe that it is the key to our success, but gaps are still very present.  What I mean by this, is there representation? Do organizations reflect the demographics of the neighborhoods they serve? What about boards? Staff? Earlier this year, I attended PolicyLink’s Equity Summit in Chicago where I learned about multiple projects and movements around the country. The theme for this year’s conference was “Our Power. Our Future. Our Nation”.  Their summit’s logo stood out to me as a powerful image of our country’s makeup. Again, who is missing from the conversation? As planners, designers, community organizers, government staff, developers, and community shakers, are we being inclusive in how we approach our work? We must continue to challenge ourselves by asking ourselves those tough questions and being open to having tough conversations about what it truly means to be inclusive.  

I’ll close with this last thought.  NEAR’s Executive Director, John Franklin Hay, who served as a panelist said that “no matter who you are when you cast a light and do good, you have to be aware that you also cast a shadow”.  This deeply resonated with me because there is so much truth to those words.  We have to be careful with the initiatives we push forward as a city, though we may all have honest intentions to sincerely “do good” we also have to be very aware of the shadow we create.  

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DAYLIGHT // Season 1, Episode 2: Inclusive Design featured a discussion centered around the urban renewal in Indianapolis. Starla Hart, Program Officer at LISC, moderated the discussion and she was joined by panelists Jeff Bennett, the Deputy Mayor of Community Development for the City of Indianapolis, Meg Storrow, Co-Principal at Storrow Kinsella, John Franklin Hay, Executive Director for NEAR Indy, and Dr. Justin Ferguson, Executive Director of Outreach & Engagement & Director of Master of Urban Design (MUD) Program at Ball State University.

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Born and raised in the Midwest, Cari Morales is a graduate of Indiana University with a Bachelors in Policy Analysis. She has been working in the non-profit world for over a decade now and enjoys connecting initiatives to justice. Cari lives in a house with her brother in the Warren Park Neighborhood in the East Side of Indianapolis and she enjoys baking for friends and family in her spare time.