Thinking Big by Designing Small – Next City

Community Engaged Design in America

Thinking Big by Designing Small

Next City
Shadow scenes are projected onto the walls of abandoned buildings at a community art event. Photo by Ye Rin Mok.

This article, by Lyra Kilston, discusses the evolution of Kounkuey Design Initiative (KDI), a Los Angeles-based nonprofit public interest design group. In Thai, Kounkuey means “to know intimately.” This is the philosophy guiding KDI’s community engaged design work in places like the North Shore, a rural, predominantly Latino community of Southern California’s Coachella Valley. KDI’s work with North Shore residents to create a five-acre park shows how CED projects can create opportunities for communities to reclaim authorship of the narratives describing them and the places in which they live. “One project, no matter how great, won’t solve the big problems,” Chelina Odbert, co-founder and executive director of KDI, says in the article, “they must be linked to a large strategy of problem solving.”

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Organizations Referenced

Kounkuey Design Initiative, California Endowment, ArtPlace America, Surdna Foundation

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