Mayors' Institute on City Design

MICD Just City Mayoral Fellows discuss design interventions to address racial injustice in America

The second annual MICD Just City Mayoral Fellowship was held by the Mayors’ Institute on City Design (MICD) and the Just City Lab at the Harvard Graduate School of Design in Spring 2022. In a live event recorded April 22 at the GSD, the 2022 Fellows discussed strategies for using planning and design interventions to address racial injustices in each of their cities. Watch the recording here and read an excerpt of the GSD’s recap below.

The 2022 MICD Just City Mayoral Fellows are:
Charleston, SC Mayor John J. Tecklenburg
College Park, MD Mayor Patrick L. Wojahn
Duluth, MN Mayor Emily Larson
Madison, WI Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway
Providence, RI Mayor Jorge O. Elorza
Richmond, VA Mayor Levar M. Stoney
Salisbury, MD Mayor Jacob R. Day
Youngstown, OH Mayor Jamael Tito Brown

“Everything we do at the GSD,” Dean Sarah Whiting said, “is affected by or affects cities.” On Friday, April 22, the GSD hosted the concluding event of the 2022 Just City Mayoral Fellowship, a collaboration between the Mayors’ Institute on City Design (MICD) and the Harvard GSD’s Just City Lab, supported by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). The event brought seven mayors together for a discussion on how design and planning interventions can promote racial and infrastructural justice.

In her opening remarks, Dr. Maria Rosario Jackson, the chair of the NEA and the first urban planner to hold the role, said: “It’s in this kind of forum that one can see the critically important role that arts, culture, creativity, and design have in advancing healthy communities and cities.”

Trinity Simons, the executive director of the MICD, shared the MICD’s ambition to “equip mayors to be the chief urban designers of their cities.” She said that following George Floyd’s murder in 2020, “We saw mayors asking: What does it mean to achieve racial justice in the built environment?” To address this, Simons reached out to Toni L. Griffin, the founder of the Just City Lab and a professor in practice of urban planning at the GSD. Now in its second year, the fellowship involves an 11-week curriculum of “readings, lectures, and open and honest discussion.” Mayors also proposed projects for their city, with design and development professionals performing “design jury duty” to share their expertise and feedback.

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