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Reclaiming Spaces and Places: SESSION

Spaces and Places, born of the necessity to be acknowledged within the built environment, has embarked on its most unique and ambitious convening since its conception. This year’s theme, titled Reclaiming, aims to position BIPOC urbanists, designers, and activists as defiant catalysts for liberation and equity.

August 6, 2020

Spaces and Places, born of the necessity to be acknowledged within the built environment, has embarked on its most unique and ambitious convening since its conception. Now in its fourth year, the annual grassroots (un)conference will be hosted virtually in partnership with BlackSpace and Next City. This year’s theme, titled Reclaiming, aims to position BIPOC urbanists, designers, and activists as defiant catalysts for liberation and equity.


Reclaiming our History | Present | Future

The SESSION highlights innovative speakers in a panel presentation and moderated discussion centered on projects that exemplify the spirit of reclamation through three lenses:

Reclaiming Our History: Reckoning with Our Past to Build Our Future
Reclaiming Our Present: Protect and Strengthen Culture
Reclaiming Our Future: Manifest the Future

Panelists Bios | Day 1 Session

Dr. Andrea Roberts

Dr. Andrea Roberts ( is an Assistant Professor of Urban Planning and an Associate Director of the Center for Housing & Urban Development at Texas A&M University. She is also the founder of The Texas Freedom Colonies Project ( ), a research & social justice initiative documenting placemaking history and grassroots preservation practices in the African Diaspora. Dr. Roberts brings more than a decade of experience in community and economic development to her scholarship. As a planning historian, theorist, critical heritage scholar, and educator, Roberts trains future planners and preservationists to move marginalized communities’ histories, ontologies of place, methods, and agendas from the edge to the center of practice and policymaking. Her work detects effective, culturally-based planning and preservation practices in historic African American communities, especially those with constituencies and locations, which are difficult to identify. Transdisciplinary in nature, her research works with critical theories of development, planning, human geography, gender and diaspora studies to detect opportunities for bridging grassroots and formal planning in service of historic African American communities. She uses participatory action and engaged ethnographic research methodologies and embraces a variety of knowledge forms such as rituals, annual celebrations, and music. The context in which she is currently working is endangered historic black settlements and towns in Texas called freedom colonies, both on-site and virtually on digital humanities platforms.

Dr. Roberts has written peer-reviewed articles on African American placemaking history and practice, digital engagement, black feminist planning history, intersectionality, and preservation policy. The Vernacular Architecture Forum recently awarded her a 2020 Bishir Prize for her article on black homestead preservation. She is currently writing a book about Black historic preservation practice to be published by University of Texas Press. The Urban Affairs Association recently recognized her Texas Freedom Colony Atlas & Study (, a statewide countermapping and urban humanities project, with the 2019 Marilyn J. Gittell Activist Scholar Honorable Mention Award. Dr. Roberts is a 2019 recipient of a National Trust African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund grant and is a 2020 Whiting Public Engagement Fellow. She is also a 2020-21 Visiting Scholar at Yale’s Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition. Dr. Roberts earned a Ph.D. in community and regional planning at The University of Texas at Austin, holds an M.A. in government administration from the University of Pennsylvania, and a B.A. in political science from Vassar College.

June A. Grant, RA, NOMA

June A. Grant, RA, NOMA, is Founder and Design Principal at blink!LAB architecture; a boutique research-based architecture and urban design practice. Launched in 2014, Blink!LAB brings 20 years experience in architecture, design and urban regeneration of cities and communities.

 Ms. Grant’s approach rests on an avid belief in cultural empathy, data research and new technologies as integral to design futures and design solutions.

blink!LAB has three mandates - A commitment to Design Exploration, Advocacy for Holistic Solutions and the Integration of Technology as a central component for a regenerative society.

Because we are designers committed to new forms of knowledge through making, we prefer to situate ourselves in the middle of catalytic design- where new challenges and emerging opportunities are addressed through multi-layered thinking and design. Open and collaborative, Blink!LAB is a small multi-disciplinary design studio with projects bridging architectural form, urban economics, urban design, industrial design, furniture and digital fabrication towards the creation of regenerated communities.

Ms. Grant is also the current President of the San Francisco Chapter of the National Organization of Minority Architects (SFNOMA); a twelve year-old organization where members include Architects, Interior Designers, Urban Planners, Landscape Architects, Policy Advocates and Activists implementing the SFNOMA mission: Design to Empower, Educate and foster Economic growth in under-served communities.

Mattice Haynes

Mattice Haynes is a Black, southern woman and mama, somatic abolitionist, and cultural worker who practices embodying love, truth and freedom in everything she does. She is a trusted coach, social entrepreneur, and master facilitator with twenty years of experience leading social transformation. Mattice is known for the care, integrity, curiosity, and piercing insight she brings when partnering with individuals and groups who desire to transform themselves in the service of our collective liberation.

As an anti-racism practitioner and gender and reproductive justice advocate based in Atlanta, GA, Mattice consistently challenges herself and others to name and shift the underlying power dynamics that fuel systemic oppression especially in the U.S. South. Since founding her consulting practice The Art of Community, LLC in 2007, she has worked with dozens of local and national clients to cultivate the conditions for Black people, people of color, and gender oppressed people to control and shape the future of their communities. Mattice is also the co-founder and curator of The Black mecca Project (TBmP) which launched in August 2019. TBmP is Atlanta’s Black Liberation Studio where creatives, healers, social entrepreneurs, and cultural workers are conjuring an Atlanta that is free of antiBlack racism, classism, and gender oppression.

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APA Division of Housing and Community Development |

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