United by design announced as 2022 City of Design Challenge theme

July 20, 2022, Detroit, MI – Design Core Detroit announced that it is launching the next City of Design Challenge. “United by Design,” with a focus on resident-driven ideas for unifying communities and building neighborhood resiliency throughout the city. 

“City of Design Challenges are designed to put the needs of existing residents at the center of the design and development of innovative strategies for their neighborhoods’ future,” said Bonnie Fahoome, co-executive director of Design Core. “This year’s challenge will uplift inclusive and equitable solutions that can help a neighborhood rebound from an unexpected shock – whether environmental, health, social, or economic.”

Throughout Detroit’s history and especially in recent years, Detroiters have used their ingenuity, perseverance and hard work to respond to these kinds of shocks. The 2022 Challenge is made possible through a generous grant from the Hudson-Webber Foundation.  “These last few years have brought us a global pandemic and its related health and economic impacts, assaults on our democracy, and severe weather events,” said Melanca Clark, President & CEO of the Hudson-Webber Foundation. “We see this effort as a way to help address the challenge of social cohesion and connection in times of disruption by supporting the creation of community-driven, creative responses for engagement.” 

Design Core has partnered with Community Development Advocates of Detroit (CDAD) and CultureSource to develop the Challenge theme and engage community members.

“Residents, block clubs, community development organizations, and activists have the expertise to drive innovative and community-driven solutions. They have deep expertise in processes and engagement but don’t always have access to designers and other technical support,” said Madhavi Reddy, CDAD executive director. “We’re excited to be part of this year’s Challenge to help facilitate those collaborations.”

“Cultural organizations often delve into these questions of what makes a community feel connected, resilient and hopeful,” said Omari Rush, executive director of CultureSource. “Our members will help enrich these community conversations by contributing their unique perspectives, informed by experiences working in their communities.,” 

With input from dozens of Detroit residents and groups, Design Core has been working since April to refine the topic and ensure it addresses the highest priorities of our community.  A final community engagement session, Building Community Connections, led by Terri Burch, Principal Design Strategist and Consultant at Bloom Design, took place at Historic Engine 11 in Detroit on Wednesday July 27.  Over 20 community leaders representing neighborhoods all over the city participated.  Their input will be used to refine the challenge statement, which will be shared during the open call period in October. 

The Challenge program offers 6 interdisciplinary teams access to training, resources and a share of over $75,000 to develop their ideas into projects that can be prototyped and tested in the community.  Teams are selected through a competitive process by a group of community jurors. An open call, launching in October 2022, will invite proposals from all areas of the city.  The program will run from December 2022 through September 2023. The public is invited to participate in many of the trainings and talks on inclusive, user-centered design, community engagement, and leading local change. The teams will showcase their projects during the 2023 Detroit Month of Design. The lessons learned through these projects will be documented and shared. 

For more information or to be notified of future Detroit City of Design 2022 Challenge announcements, sign up here.  To learn about ways to support  the program, please email info@https://designcore.org//.