In 2017, upon invitation from MIT graduate student Insiyah Mohammad, Noran Sanford and several GrowingChange Youth Leaders presented their work at the school’s department of urban studies and planning. During the lecture, GrowingChange, a youth-led nonprofit, described its goals to flip a decommissioned prison site into an agricultural community center. After the presentation, several architecture graduate students offered to assist GrowingChange during summer breaks; from there, a fruitful collaboration took root.
As this collaboration persisted from summer to summer, the number of graduate students grew and Group Project, a student-led design collective, was formed.
Below is a meditation on how community-driven work fits into design practice. Current Group Project members (including two of this report’s editors and the contributing editors) use a confessional-style dialogue to share how they—or, more accurately, we—feel working with a community, often from afar. As young design practitioners, we are constantly trying to understand our place in community-driven work, often as outsiders, representatives of monied institutions such as MIT, city-slickers, and designers interested in pushing the bounds of traditional architectural and planning practices. —Morgan Augillard and Joey Swerdlin, Along the Lumbee River report editors
Read Flipping the Prison: Projects to see examples of the various interventions Group Project has accomplished with GrowingChange thus far.