What is Equity-Centered Community Design?

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Diverse co-creators coming together. 

To address issues that are created by inequity, we need to include individuals and communities affected. Each sector of society also contributes a different type of expertise and knowledge base that should be leveraged to effectively problem-solve.

What values and expertise does each sector bring to the table?

What are some of the barriers of access and power? How do we address those barriers?


Building humility and empathy.

Using empathy and humility to understand the problem results in approaches that are people-centered with minimal biases.

Empathy: the active attempt to understand another person’s perspective. 

Humility: the willingness and ability to accurately assess oneself, acknowledge gaps in one’s knowledge, and be open to new ideas.


Acknowledging and dismantling power constructs.

We need to acknowledge and dismantle the larger systems that disenfranchise communities. These are the roots that limit or erase marginalized communities’ social, economic, and cultural growth.

One of the most straightforward ways of identifying the existence of power constructs is by being critical of the data behind various social and political systems. For instance, the establishment of mandatory minimums for crack cocaine in the 1980’s may not have seemed like a form of systemic oppression. However, the mass incarceration of Black and Brown bodies that ensued after highlight how the sentencing law disproportionately impacted the Black and Latinx community.

Other ways of identifying power constructs include being open to dialogue, having humility, and critically listening to others.

Defining and assessing community needs.

The better we can understand a community, the better we can narrow down needs and the root of why they are not receiving those needs. We can then use this step to begin designing a way to improve futures.

What community are you designing for?

What are some of their values?

What barriers do they face?

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Learn more about the Equity-Centered Community Design Process at SXSW!