News Release

Child playing in a park

Photo by Austin Parks and Recreation Department

Design Workshop Foundation Partners with Lawndale Pop-Up Spot and Austin Parks and Recreation with Central Texas Interfaith for Community Capacity Building Initiative

The Design Workshop Foundation is pleased to announce it will partner with Lawndale Pop-Up Spot in Chicago, and Austin Parks and Recreation with Central Texas Interfaith in Austin, Texas for its 2024 Community Capacity Building Initiative. Both groups will collaborate with the Design Workshop Foundation, including planners and designers from Design Workshop Inc. to receive pro-bono design, planning, and placemaking expertise. Through this effort, design teams will work closely with the community leaders and stakeholders to advance action to overcome environmental challenges, with a goal to grow more equitable, resilient, and inclusive spaces.

“These two groups identified complex community challenges that we felt passionate about helping to overcome,” said Sarah Konradi, executive director of the Design Workshop Foundation. “We are excited for this collaborative effort and look forward to co-designing solutions for positive change.”

Lawndale Pop-Up Spot

Over the past few decades, the neighborhood of North Lawndale has experienced inequity caused by redlining, disinvestment, population decline, and infrastructure deterioration. Although North Lawndale is plagued with marked by many vacant lots, abandoned buildings, and other signs of poverty and neglect, it is a community that is extremely resilient with many talented and committed stakeholders and dedicated residents. The community is engaged in implementing a Quality-of-Life plan aiming to utilize resources and build actualize a blueprint for community revitalization. The goal is to continue to spark community growth offering more amenities, healthier living, and a stronger economy without displacing long-term residents.

Design Workshop Foundation will be assisting the Lawndale Pop-Up Spot and their partners with their “Reimagining 16th Street” initiative. The target area on 16th Street is a "half-mile" street in the heart of North Lawndale envisioned to be livable with walkable hubs of retail, housing, education, and beauty, but currently consists mostly of vacant lots and abandoned buildings. They were granted funds by the City of Chicago and private foundations for a community-engaged art project implementing consisting of images, storytelling kiosks, murals, and sculptures along the corridor, while other community organizations with the neighborhood Greening & Open Space Committee work to educate engage with residents about green infrastructure and envision impactful placemaking. Design Workshop Foundation will support, guide, and provide a blueprint for the next stages of this project.

“We are excited to collaborate with the Design Workshop Foundation on the Reimagining 16th Street project. Connecting art, history, and culture to larger issues of sustainable revitalization and community empowerment is a major part of why the Lawndale Pop-Up Spot exists. Being able to bring DWF's resources, experience, and skills to bear will be huge in terms of our capacity to engage more residents and other partners, clarify and effectively communicate our goals, and plan for the future.” – Jonathan Kelley, Co-Founder, Lawndale Pop-Up Spot

Austin Parks and Recreation with Central Texas Interfaith

Austin has long been referred to as a “city within a park” but with rapid population growth and developed land increasing at exponential rates, this is changing. Central Texas Interfaith (CTI) has conducted community engagement events, gathering data on how residents interact with outdoor spaces, as well as the City of Austin’s Parks and Recreation Department’s (PARD) goals surrounding park equity. They discovered the need to increase equitable public access to parks and green spaces, ensure safety in these green spaces, promote physical and mental wellness, and engage the community in decision-making. With the help of PARD and other organizations, CTI is focused on addressing inequalities in access to and enjoyment of green spaces in Austin with particular attention to the City’s historically underserved communities.

PARD and CTI, along with Design Workshop Foundation will work to develop a scalable framework around how to better activate parks in an effort to build community health and well-being through our parks system after they’re renovated or newly opened, including community engagement options, identifying partners who could lead activation efforts, and marketing solutions to help bring more awareness to neighborhood parks. The Design Workshop Foundation will work to refine the approach to community engagement for parks projects to ensure and explore funding options for contributes to activation and not just infrastructure. It also includes developing a method for interested external partners to engage with PARD in providing community supported programming in neighborhood parks in an effort to align to City-wide goals around community health and sustainability.

“We’re excited to partner with Central Texas Interfaith on this important initiative as we seek to activate our parks through community-centered design.” – Liana Kallivoka, Assistant Director, Austin Parks & Recreation Department

"We recognize that healthier communities result from the active engagement of its members in the plans and decisions that most affect them. CTI has a long history of surfacing the issues of interest to our families and neighbors. They’re saying they want outdoor spaces that are plentiful, safe, and designed with the residents in mind. Central Texas Interfaith is excited to partner with Design Workshop Foundation and Austin Parks and Recreation Department in this effort to bring community voices to the forefront of these important conversations, and to turn conversation into action." – Fannie Akingbala, leader - Central Texas Interfaith


Lawndale Pop-Up Spot
Lawndale Pop-Up Spot is a community museum located within a shipping container featuring exhibitions and events curated by and for North Lawndale. It is an innovative initiative to connect history, culture, and nature all while being a part of the great efforts in North Lawndale and acts as a place for community, creating exhibitions, installations, and education.

Austin Parks and Recreation Department
Austin Parks and Recreation Department (PARD) works to inspire Austin to learn, play, protect, and connect by creating diverse programs and experiences in sustainable natural spaces and public places. PARD protects and maintains parkland and urban forest, while offering a variety of sports, recreation, educational programs, art programs, cultural opportunities, as well as nature and aquatic activities for the ongoing enjoyment of residents and visitors.

Central Texas Interfaith
Central Texas Interfaith (CTI) is a non-partisan, multi-ethnic, multi-issue coalition of over 50 congregations, schools, health clinics, workers’ groups, and social service organizations in the 10-county area of central Texas. Founded in East Austin by its oldest institutions of color, they are a broad-based organization that has created systemic change for over 35 years through institutional organizing. They work together to address public issues that affect the well-being of families and neighborhoods in surrounding communities. They teach institutions to engage in the democratic process and advocate on the issues brought forth by the community.