“Social Justice and Equity in Technology & Architecture”
What can we do to provide better equity in technology and architecture? In this webinar, Inclusive Designers Podcast and the Boston Architectural College (BAC) join forces to discuss the benefits of investing in our society by elevating the underserved in our communities within Architecture and Design. This important talk includes panelists from the Benjamin Franklin Institute for Technology, Boston Planning and Development Agency, and PCA Design to give us some great action plans. This talented and knowledgeable group will inspire you to find ways to improve equity in your community, and beyond.
- Janet Roche – BAC Adjunct Instructor; BAC Alumni Council; Design for Human Health Graduate
Owner of Janet Roche Designs, LLC, & Host of Inclusive Designers Podcast.
- Luis A. Perez Demorizi – BAC Alumni Council; Open Space Coordinator- City of Newton, MA
- Barry Reaves – Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, Boston Planning & Development Agency
Call to Action: Whatever space, look at sustainability. Look at this in its entirety, all different types of individuals. Builds legacy, wealth and work together. Work collaboratively.
- Colin Riley – Director of Real Estate Development, The BAC
Call to Action: Wealth Building for Students of Color. Ownership and community activism to create wealth of influence to assure future generations the confidence to move forward.
- Nikhil Satyala, Ph.D. – Department of Engineering Technology, Benjamin Franklin Inst. of Technology
Call to Action: Networking, getting involved with community organizations, reaching out at a early age.
- Calvin Conyers – Marketing/Admissions Office, Benjamin Franklin Inst. of Technology
Call to Action: Mentorship. Scholarships for women. “Continuing Education and Spread the word, have this become the norm”
“Janet: Welcome everyone— this morning, this afternoon, this evening, wherever you are in this great world— we’re going to talk a little bit about justice and technology. We’ve got a really good show for you, and a program that’s just going to, I think really kind of change some of the ways people are looking at technology and what we can do to make things more equitable. I am known to talk quite a bit, but I will try to keep it a little short today because we have so many great guests who have a lot of really important things to say, and that would not be me.
With that said, I also just want to make sure that everybody understands that we sometimes have technology problems with different platforms, as we all have learned over the last, what is now 16 months or so, things are not necessarily perfect but we try to be able enough to understand that and get through it and find some patience.
So with that said, I have a couple of introductions to do. I’m going to start with our guest list. At first, we have Barry Reaves who was appointed as the Boston Planning and Development Agency’s first ever Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in 2020. Barry is a seasoned diversity practitioner with more than 15 years of experience. He has held positions of increasing responsibility in the diversity management and staffing functions within the federal government and while serving on active duty for 18 years. Thank you so much for your service.
We also have Daniela Coray. And she is an alumni. She is from the Masters Landscaping Architecture, 2018. She is a Coordinator of Course Instruction and Assistant Faculty in the School of Landscape Architecture at the BAC. Daniela is also co-chair of the committee on K through 12 Outreach for the Boston Society of Landscape Architecture, where she leads Youth Landscape Architect Studio in partnership with the Emerald Necklace Conservancy. She serves on the BAC’s Pre-K through 12 Committee working towards greater accessibility, inclusion and awareness for youth and the design fields, which is fabulous. Daniela is an Associate Member of the American Society of Landscape Architects, as well as a member of the Environmental Education Society and the Ecological Landscape Alliance. Whew, that’s a lot.
And we also have Calvin Conyers. I don’t have a full bio for you, my apologies Calvin, but we know he’s the Associate Dean of Admissions and Recruitment for the Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology.
We also have Dave Snell, Senior Associate, PCA, Incorporated. Dave has a keen understanding of market conditions and the drivers for successful development. He excels at planning and design of mixed-use urban projects and public spaces that bring people together from all walks of life. Merging his project work and civil life together, Dave is a leader in PCA’s commitment to providing design education to minority students and help foster and support future design leaders in communities where under-representation of design professional is persistent.
Also, we have Dr. Nikhil Satyala. He’s the Chair and Associate Professor of Engineering and Technology at Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology. We’re very excited to have him this morning. He is an experienced technology educator with 10 plus years of experience in teaching, research, curriculum, program development, advising and mentoring. His mission is to create student focused classroom environments as sustainable pathways to a higher education in science and technology.
And last, but definitely not least, we have call Colin Riley, who is our Director of Real Estate Development at the BAC. His focus is real estate finance. And he uses his role at the BAC to promote the development of commercial real estate, property assets as college endowment. His research interests focus on capital markets and currently focus on the emerging trends in capital formation of wealth creation for developers of color.
So fabulous. That is our lineup. And I also now have my cohost… well, actually, technically he’s the host, I’m just the moderator. So, I’m going to introduce your host, Luis Perez Demorizi. And he is an alumni as well. He’s from the Bachelors of Landscape Architect, 2016, class of 2016, the BAC. He’s also part of the BAC Alumni Advisor Council, coupled with his personal and academic professional background in landscape architecture at the BAC has made Luis a strong advocate for public land and their benefits to people and wildlife. After holding a few design positions in reputable firms, Luis is currently working for the City of Newton parks, recreation, and cultural development to protect and enhance, public open spaces so they may continue to forge memories and renewed experience to coming generations. So welcome Luis.
Luis: Hi, everyone. I’m so glad to be here. Thank you, Janet, for the thorough introductions. It’s really great to be here and sort of kick this very important BAC Talk series that is focused on technology. We do feel that while this topic is very important and lots of innovation is occurring and has occurred regularly with tech advances, it is critical to address issues with access to technology and professional development in underserved communities. This means, you know, inner cities, women and girls, LGBTQ, rural regions, as well as persons with disabilities and other marginalized groups.
Janet: Yeah, that’s right. We cannot talk about advancing the design profession without ensuring the next generation of designers reflect the populations that they are serving and we’re designing for them. I’m actually really excited to hear that a lot of students are joining us today. So that’s fabulous.
Luis: Indeed. And you know, we can safely say that diverse backgrounds often bring more sensitivity into how designers respond to community needs as well as their client needs. And just end up with a, with a more enriching design at the end.
Janet: Yeah. That’s absolutely true. So, let’s get into it. Eliza, if you can go and show the five quick facts and if we’ve got, or let me ask if we’ve got Barry, I know that we were having some problems getting Barry into, onto the stage.
Eliza: We have Barry. Barry, I’m just going to ask that you raise your hand please. And now I’m going to hide from the stage and I’m going to throw up those facts.
Janet: Okay, Luis, do you want to read it out and then ask Barry the questions? Thank you.
Luis: Sure. So as everyone can see in this screen, there are some, quick facts about BiPOC communities, LGBTQ communities, persons with disabilities, as well as women. So as we’re discussing, you’ll see these facts sort of come up and we thought it was very impactful and important to share these.
So Barry, while we have you on the line, based on your work, what are two of the greatest barriers for vulnerable populations reaching the executive level in the workforce, particularly in the design field. … and it looks like Barry’s not on, so let’s…
Janet: Is Barry muted, or he’s just not on?
Eliza: We’re working on Barry. So if you want to go to the next question…
Janet: Yeah, go ahead.
Luis: Daniela, based on your work, what is one challenge or one opportunity of building ecosystems for designers at an early age?
Daniela: Thank you Luis for that question. So I took some time thinking about this and I’d say to answer in order, if I think about a challenge, it’s actually really hard to think of just one. So I’m going to quickly name three, as I see as a sort of a spectrum of challenges. If we’re trying to think about an ecosystem of designers at an early age. So, for me, the main issues are awareness, awareness of the design fields, awareness of the design professions, awareness of design thinking, reach, and accessibility.
So, as we talk about equity as an issue, we also need to discuss how we actually reach, marginalized populations, how we reach students who don’t typically have access to design education, and then, equity of opportunities. So, if we’re bringing, for example, youth programs across the design fields, then we need to make sure that those youth programs reach a wide range of students from all different backgrounds and extend opportunity.
And so, a brief, you know, anecdote to that is that I am, I’m in landscape architecture, I teach landscape architecture, I didn’t know the field existed until I was in my mid-twenties. So I didn’t enter the profession until much later. And we’re finding that that age is going younger and younger every year, but it takes a lot of effort on our part to introduce the design fields and the design professions, and from my perspective, particularly landscape architecture to younger and younger people to allow them to be aware of the profession even being an option for them.
And then, opportunity is a whole other conversation, and I think we could definitely speak of many, many more than just one at this point. But I think if we’re again looking at this word, this word ecosystem, for me, it’s about sustainability. Creating a support system so that there’s a scaffold underneath these youth who are getting involved in the design fields, that takes them from a very young age all the way through to their, to their professional careers.
So that may mean for example, that students could get involved in design summer camps at a young age, and then progress to a project I’ll talk about later, which is our Youth Landscape Architecture Studio which is for high school students.
And then from there you are being given an opportunity to become an intern at a firm. And all of this creates continuation, so you’re not having a one-off moment of engaging with students, you’re allowing them to really understand design thinking and learn about design process at many ages and sustain that through their young education until they enter college, if they choose to. And if they want to become designers, fantastic. If they don’t, you’ve given them an opportunity to understand what design thinking can offer them as they enter professions.
So, you know, imagining us as designers and design thinkers being able to populate future professionals at any level, whether they’re you know, doctors or lawyers or designers, the president of the United States, you know, how amazing would it be to think that all of them had a foundation in design thinking and how that might change the way that they approach the work that they do, how they problem solve. So to me, the opportunity really comes from understanding that it can’t be just this small moment. It has to be a foundation that really sustains them over time.
Luis: Thank you, Daniela. And, and as a follow-up on the effort, Calvin and or Dave, based on your experience, what, what level of effort is needed to continue to keep growing these ecosystems of young designers and young professionals?
Calvin: I think educating, we look at like the tech industry, for instance, women make up about 16-percent of the leadership in the tech fields. So, you know, I think educating because these aren’t fields that, you know, people really grow up analyzing and wanting to go into, but, you know, as they get introduced to these programs, they can become interested and it could be a potential future career for these students. So I think a lot of educating, especially in these fields that just aren’t common to our students.
Dave: If I could add a little bit to that, picking up on Daniela said on the professional side. So as a firm, taking it from, it’s come through college or high school and get to that professional setting, we need to continue that scaffolding and the infrastructure that Daniela was talking about, and recognize that this is a marathon, not a sprint. We need to do things that are changing cultures of firms. And we are really considering how to bake this in to make sure that it lives on throughout time. It’s just the way that we all do business, and just the, what the profession looks like. So for us at PCA, that is our Jedi group.
We have a whole infrastructure based around this that tackles a lot of different arenas that we’re constantly working on and evolving and that’s between education and growing the next generation and our expanding networks and, you know, changing some of the work that we do quite frankly to more socially responsible work. But the growing of the next generation is really one of the things that we’ve all gleaned as the, what strikes us as one of the most important things.
Because as people have been saying, our profession, I wouldn’t say has the greatest welcome mat to the BiPOC community. It’s some out there, it’s really difficult to know how to become an architect or a designer or what the path looks like. And however we can create relationships at young ages with students to either provide mentorship or guidance or opportunities for them to see the past, see how they could imagine themselves becoming an architect or designer or getting into the technology fields. We think that that’s a critical piece.
Luis: Thank you, Dave. Janet, are you? I believe you’re muted.
Janet: Oh pooh, yeah, it never fails, Right? Well, we’re not just talking about BiPOC individuals. We’re also talking about women, the LGBTQ community. We’re also talking about people with disabilities. So, oh, Eliza, brilliant. So here we go. “Children with disabilities are more, almost four times more likely to experience violence than children without disabilities.” So you’ve got a disadvantage right there. Maybe what we can do is bring in Nikhil and Calvin while we’re still waiting a little bit for Barry. Nikhil, can you go over some of the solutions that you have found to be beneficial.
Nikhil: So. Going back to what Daniela mentioned earlier, providing the foundation seems to be the key at an early age. As part of technology, education and integration, we have been providing such a solution for the past few years and there are plenty of opportunities for students to get involved at an early age in college through early access programs, or through programs that can provide them experience through summer camps or summer programs at colleges.
Now these programs are intended to provide the students awareness and the information about accessibility to courses and the programs and technology at various levels. The early access to college programs gets the students involved in the college courses for credit. They can take those credits and move on to a field that they’re interested in, or they can become aware of what’s available in the near future, and they can make decisions about what suits their profile best or their interests best. Now these type of programs where the students get exposed to the opportunities that are available in the field of education, especially in the technological field of education, make it more convenient for students who are in a, students who come from a diverse group of communities where some of them are first generation college going students who do not have any information about what college looks like, and what the technological tree looks like and what additional opportunities that they may have in order to go from high school all the way to the industry. So creating that pathway and providing the foundation early in their age is what we found as a successful moment in creating that interest, as well as making sure that there is increased awareness in the community for these types of programs.
Calvin: I think also getting involved in the community. So going to places that these young people are, so community-based organizations like the YMCA, Boys and Girls Club, places that we know that our students in the community are, and making these options available and visible to them.
Eliza: I just want to just want to say we have Barry with us by phone. You don’t see him on the chat, but he is with us by phone. So, I’m going to turn my camera off but have my mic on and you will hear Barry. So I just wanted you to know, carry on with the conversation, but Barry is here when, when it’s, he’s up.
Janet: All right, well Calvin, maybe we could put a pin in it and we’ll go and we’ll hear a little bit from from Barry first.
Luis: I love the loophole in technology here, you know. Barry, so, welcome, and thanks for joining us. So, one quick question for you, what in, with your work, what are the two or maybe three greatest barriers for vulnerable populations reaching the executive level in the workforce and by executive level meaning either owning their own businesses or just being, running one.
Barry: Well that’s a great question. I would say to you that probably the number one is mentorship, and getting that key mentorship at the, at their appropriate places at times for professional development and growth, allowing that person to be at the same level or speed with their, with their peers. So that way they can do that. So that’s a huge ____. Look at any of the surveys, you will find that sadly, a good percentage of those populations don’t get the appropriate mentorship and development at the key level of jobs to actually allow them to grow. I think the second challenge is, is that it’s, the development when it comes to correct positions and identification of a career path, and what they want to do. Those things don’t happen early enough and a lot of minorities and ___ individuals. And so, that lack of ability to develop and kind of understand the curriculum to schools that will help support their growth up to the key level doesn’t happen to them in a timely manner. And so they’re not able to progress I think institutionally and stuff like that, just from a barrier standpoint. There’s also just from my own standpoint, there’s just a lack of interns that are the same color, same culture, same things and are just kind of intimidated or create a space where a lot of minorities don’t feel like they can actually perceive it because they don’t feel like the person understands their background.
Luis: Thank you, Barry. And, Calvin, you were, sort of, discussing a little bit about what the Ben Franklin Institute is doing currently. Could you speak a little bit about your mentorship program and how, you know, your program is perhaps tackling some of the issues that Barry just mentioned in regard in lack of mentorship for youth.
Calvin: Yeah. In the admissions office, what we do is we have a lot of our, a lot of our graduates go back to their high schools and go to their favorite, their favorite class, and really just talk about their experience on where they are, how they got introduced to the field and, you know, some of the fun aspects to introduce their friends to programs that they’re probably not even considering.
And we found that to be very successful because, it’s easier for students to picture themselves somewhere after somebody that they already know is actually going through it. So you know, that reality really kicks in and that’s something that we’ve seen, you know, just be, you know, really beneficial to the students because they actually could see themselves doing it and they actually persist through. So that’s one of the things that we’re doing.
We also have, we have scholarships for women. We have a Women in Tech scholarship which is something that we’re trying to do to increase the women in the tech field. Like I said earlier, 16-percent of the leadership in the tech field are women. So we’re, you know, we’re trying to change that number, increase that number.
So all the opportunities that we offer here at Benjamin Franklin, we’re trying to, you know, just bring diversity, bring women, bring people that aren’t typically thinking about these programs into the, you know, into our space so we can show them the outcomes that we are offering. And we’ve seen that to be very beneficial.
Janet: That’s fabulous. Calvin. I love the fact that BFIT is so progressive in this area, and I liked the fact that the BAC and you guys are trying to work together to really try to make some positive changes which is, it only benefits all of us at the end of the day, doesn’t it.
So, with the interest of time and the interest of making sure that we get our last part of the segment out… I’m really sorry that Barry couldn’t have been here because that would have been a great, I mean, I know he’s on the phone, but it really a great voice to have been here on their top of the program, but we’re going to start talking a little bit more about call to action. And so, I don’t know, Luis, if you want to kick that off?
Luis: Sure, you know, as we all mentioned earlier today, you know, it’s the buck doesn’t stop here. You know, as Daniela mentioned, there has to be this continuation and we’re all seeing that the continuation is effective. So at this point, you know, we’re looking for folks out there of, or, you know, networking at the tables, or just watching this now, or on the chat to just get involved. At this point there is a number of youth who are at a disadvantage and we really here at the BAC, we want to start moving toward providing more opportunities for those folks. And we are really looking for those partnerships. And yeah, that’s all I have to say in that regard, Janet, if you have anything else to add to that as well … and you are muted.
Janet: My apologies. I try to be good. I think what we should do is go through our panelists, and why don’t we start with Colin from the BAC. Colin, you want to take it away? What is the BAC up to?
Colin: Good morning everyone. My project is focused on real estate as endowment. And I see it as a meeting place between the college and its technology focus and community. So in a sense, what I’m trying to do is to understand how a typical college endowment operates. At the moment, I’m looking at an asset allocation process which works on about 55-percent fixed income securities, which involves a lot of real estate, including secure real estate securities, and other types of assets, 35-percent allocated to equity and 10-percent to cash and other cash equivalents.
Now the BAC is going through a sort of a strategic repositioning and the goal is to increase the student enrollment from an average of about 700 up to 2000. But I have a sort of a slightly different goal supportive of the initiative, but also creating a de-risk portfolio of properties that will serve maybe two or three functions, one to build relationships and to create opportunities for students to do professional practice more than the development planning work and the actual building construction, and the operations of the properties.
The second one is to create an interface between the BAC and community, because my expectation is that as we roll out this property portfolio over the next 10-years, our targets should be about a thousand-units spread across strategic locations, mostly in New England.
And the goal would be to have the young people who grew up in these buildings to be connected technologically to the BAC. There’ll be offered scholarships of some kind and to be provided with the option for a technology-based design education. So it’s using the bricks and mortar approach to developing property and layering on top of that a platform for lots of partnerships, lots of opportunities to engage with community, to build smart technology into the buildings, to think about the issues around what buildings of the future are going to look like and how they function in terms of energy and in terms of the wired and connectedness to the internet, all the types of issues. So those are my initial thoughts.
My action plan is to seek BAC leadership approval for this project and to have, be a funded research, which is multi-disciplinary. And my target is the National Science Foundation. The NSF does not fund architecture projects. So, my strategy is to go in as an economic idea. So BAC, and property as endowment. That’s my focus.
Janet: That’s great.
Eliza: We have, we have Barry on the phone again, Barry from Boston Planning and Development Agency with a response to Colin’s point about real estate.
Barry: (garbled- ‘I will say he’s got some great initiatives’…)
Janet: Eliza, can you get, Eliza, can you get the phone closer to the microphone please?
Eliza: Um. Okay. Sorry. Barry, can you speak up again?
Janet: Thank you.
Barry: Yeah, to his point, you know, he has some valid, valid points that real estate can be ____ equity driver. I believe the thing that we’re going to have to work through in all of those initiatives is making sure that the ability for people to get financing, binding and all the other resources necessary.
And so what we, I think the bigger challenge is making sure that as we recruit people to go and use real estate as an equity driver and wealth builder, how do we ensure that they’re able to get access to the capital that they need to actually invest in these properties. And not just the small lots, you know, or going to be able to do residential homes, we’re talking big, larger commercial developments that allow them to build generational wealth. And so I’m hoping that along with those initiatives that he’s pushing, we’re also having a conversation around how to be assured that they have access to capital and resources and support to actually go do these larger real estate developments that will empower the communities and the larger minority communities as well.
Colin: Well, I, I just wanted to give a very specific response to Barry’s comments. One of the things I’m working on at the moment is a profiling of some emerging programs being rolled out by Citibank and Freddie Mac and their target is wealth building for emerging borrowers of color and other minority groups. So, I am going to be leading that initiative for students of color who sign up and enroll in either our Masters of Design Studies in Real Estate Development, Continuing Education classes, or the Certificate in Real Estate Development. So all of those initiatives, if you come to the BAC, you’re coming to a college that is emphasizing wealth building for people of color.
Barry: And that’s great. I mean, I’m stoked and excited about seeing how it outcomes. I will just once again reiterate the challenge that I see at least in my work with the agency and what we see out in the current domain right now is always around access to capital and abilities. There’s the issue of capacity when it comes to a lot of real estate development, or just a purchase in a real estate being able to get access. And I think there was a Fastback we talk about where a lot of minority owners or opportunities don’t, aren’t able to secure the type of funding at the same level as that there may be their white counterparts could secure without that help.
And so, if we want to really see an equity move in the real estate area, we have to ensure that we’re not just addressing the surface level, which is education, but also addressing the systematic issues within the system and the process itself. We have to assure that banks are not just lending, you know, their lending practices are straight forward and that they’re not creating more barriers by inhibiting or not allowing those minority commercial real estate people to actually get started with capital and access to capital to allow them to do, develop and pursue these opportunities as such.
Colin: One of the features of the BAC’s Real Estate Masters Degree program is what we are calling a comprehensive real estate development portfolio or proposal where a student can work over 12-months to create a proposal that is actionable and buildable. And we are going to teach them along the way all of the strategies, all of the sources of information surrounding equity and debt financing with an emphasis on equity. Because debt is easy once equity’s in place. So, people of color and equity will be a sub research theme for this financial feasibility analysis work, and this financial engineering work. Because we have to build the securities of the future and give people of color a real opportunity in these markets.
Janet: Agreed. You know, and I love the fact that everybody, we’re trying to work towards the same goal, both the BAC and then BFIT, and the city of Boston are really trying to work collaboratively. I think that that’s fabulous.
I’m, I’m a little concerned with time. That’s part of my job is to make sure that we are kind of cohesive. I want to give everybody else a chance to kind of wrap up a little bit. Maybe there’s something that you would like for the listeners to know before we go. I don’t know, maybe we can, why don’t we start with, why don’t we start with Daniela.
Daniella: Thanks Janet. So just a couple of quick things to share with everyone. If we’re talking about calls to action. And thinking about creating infrastructure for, and, you know, from my perspective, it’s for youth. So as, as co-chair of the, this committee, K through 12 committee at the Boston Society of Landscape Architects, we, we just started last July and we’ve been pushing forward a lot of initiatives.
One of them is the Youth Landscape Architecture Studio in partnership with the Emerald Necklace Conservancy. And it’s still happening now. It, students meet three times a week. And what’s been really fantastic about this program is that we’ve been able to partner with the ENC to, to develop a program that pays the students. So we have 10-students from the city of Boston working on a live project which is the Franklin Park Development. They’re mentored by the firm that’s running that project and they’re taught by three teaching assistants from the BAC who are grad students in landscape architecture. So we have this intergenerational program happening that really builds a really strong foundation, but the students are paid, the TA’s are paid, the firms are volunteering their time and, and because it’s a live project, students have been exposed to all facets of the project. They’ve spoken to policy advisors. They’ve spoken to people who work in public health, people who have run the community engagement aspect of the Franklin park development. So they’ve had a lot of exposure to all different facets of how we design public space. And so that’s one program and it’s going to happen again next year. We’re looking at it becoming an annual project with the ENC.
And then the committee is also looking at how we could build opportunities for high school internships in firms, which is an unusual project. You know, most firms are bringing in university level students who have a particular level of knowledge that they can offer a firm. It’s different obviously with high school students who are being completely introduced to a new subject area. They don’t come in with very, the skills that you would expect from an intern, yet we can build a really fantastic program of high school interns in the area firms in Boston.
And then the final project, which I think is really exciting and something that is my major call to action, because it involves all of us. We’re looking at building and it’s going to take time, a field guide to youth engagement which would be a resource for firms. Of, you know, and right now it’s looking at landscape architecture, but I imagine it could be something much broader. And the point is that it becomes a sort of manual for how firms doing, especially public projects, but really any projects that have an opportunity to engage youth are expected to engage youth. It almost becomes a standard practice.
And we would be able to provide a guide for how to do that, because of our experience and bringing in partners. That’s the other part of this is that, you know, we can’t do it alone as a society of landscape architects, we need to partner with people who are already doing youth programs, with schools in the area, with teachers, with parents, you know, everyone who has a say in the future of youth to play a role in this so that we have a really sort of profound understanding of what it means to really engage youth in design processes and in design thinking programs. So that’s kind of my call to action is we need to all get involved in this from many different angles.
Janet: Great. I saw a lot of thumbs up and a lot of little icons of light bulbs and stuff like that. I think that’s wonderful. Calvin, do you want to go next?
Calvin: Sure, I’ll keep it brief. I think the biggest call to action for us is really just to continue to educate, tell a friend, tell a family member, you know, the more information that you receive, just spread the word because I think the more people that begin to talk about some of these industries, the more it becomes a norm, but __ becomes comfortable for people to actually start to visualize and see themselves in these industries. So I think just continue to tell more people and just educate people and tell them not to be afraid to go out on a limb.
Janet: I love that. Thank you. Another one with a whole bunch of thumbs up and oh, a couple of applauses too. Nikhil do you want to, do you want to piggyback on that?
Nikhil: Sure. Just to add something to what Calvin said, I would say networking among organizations and community organizations is the most important here because it’s critical for us to get connected to various community organizations in order to reach out to people. So we have been doing our part onsite and we’ve been taking opportunity to reach out to students through schools, especially in and around Boston. But getting more involved with the community organizations would give us more avenues to provide information to a large group of people. And, and I believe that will increase awareness as well as the opportunities that are available to students at an early age.
Janet: Terrific. That was lovely. Dave, do you want to come through and give us your last thoughts here that you want people to know?
Dave: Absolutely. So we’ve been talking a lot about how to access that younger generation and bring, just open their eyes to design thinking. And we are huge fans of the BAC summer academy. And one of the things that we partnered with the BAC on is creating an opportunity fund. So this is stemming from our Jedi group.
In keeping with the acronyms coming from Star Wars, we coined it as the YODA fund, which is ‘Youth Opportunities for Diversity in Architecture’. It’s actually coined by William Watkins from the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts who is a partner of ours in this effort where we are sending five students a year to the summer academy in partnership with the Urban League.
And, you know, it’s just a wonderful program that we believe wholeheartedly in. And, we had the opportunity after last year’s summer academy to meet one of the students, Kylie, who went and, you know, she never saw a path for herself into architecture design. She just really liked to draw. And just speaking with her and hearing about her experience and how it opened her eyes, it was really wonderful. And just, at least for me personally, really spoke to you how important this access is, and really making these connections and providing these opportunities. So she’s coming back again this year it sounds like, which we’re very excited about. And we hope to help support a lot of students over the coming years to participate in this great program. And, and then hopefully someday they’ll come and work for us. So, thanks.
Janet: That’s terrific. Thanks so much, Dave. Colin, do you want to, actually let me go to Barry first and before we jump off from Barry, I just wanted to say that, anytime Barry talks about all the problems that we see within these underserved communities, I get very inspired. So take it away Barry, leave us with something pointed and good.
Barry: Okay. So, I get a chance to make the call to action. So here’s my call. In whatever space that you inhabit in whatever tech, whatever domains you have, think sustainability, think about how we can make sure that all of our initiatives can go beyond just a one opportunity or the one-off.
When you think about DEI holistically, not just as a people of color issue, but veterans, single people, married, all the different groups that are impacted and affected because diversity and equity and inclusion is about creating the platform and a table that allows everyone to have full and equal access to the opportunities that allow them to be successful.
So a lot of times our programs are creating barriers and limitations within the same population we hope to serve. So when we think about our solutions, let’s think holistically, and let’s think about how do we create a sustainable program that builds legacy, that builds WELL, that builds opportunity, and that builds a lasting connection for, in the entire people that we hope to serve and promote.
And I think that we all take a holistic approach to it and partner together, because we’re all trying to move in the same direction. So let’s get out of our silos and work together. Let’s talk across the aisles and see what you’re doing, and what the other individual in that group is doing and pool our collective resources to actually make things happen for the people that we serve. And so, my call to action is to come out of your silos. Work collaboratively, work holistically, increase sustainable opportunities for DEI. Well, okay, thanks so much.
Janet: Colin, you’re up next.
Colin: Yeah, just, call to action is understanding the presence of real estate ownership and the opportunity it provides us to be creating even more lasting relationships with community and the opportunities for doing all of the positive things that spatial designers talk about. And community activists are interested in seeing play out itself in real wealth, and real value creation.
We’re not just thinking of wealth in terms of money but accessing the technologies of the future at the interface that provides the young people with influencing with the platforms to go forward confidently, knowing that they are within a system that is well-designed and which accounts for many of the things that they struggle with, which is access to all of the high value and other types of assets that create the opportunities for them to live much better lives. And for them to break the generational gap about poverty and lack of education in something, things that we can control and do a much better job of delivering.
Janet: All right. Terrific. Thank you so much. Luis. Why don’t you wrap it up for everybody.
Luis: Sure. Thank you everyone. So just to wrap it up, it looks like there’s, quite a bit of great stuff going on. We have the BSLA, Daniela’s field guide initiative; the network, networking is important to do; you know, the YODA fund; and sustainable collaboration.
So we’re really looking at, you know, touching on all the points that all the speakers brought up, which is, you know, mentor a youth; provide economic vitality by perhaps even co-signing for a BiPOC person who’s trying to get their foot through the door; and just again, just getting more opportunities to these youth.
So, with that, I, again, I’m reaching out to the folks out in the, listening in the chats, in the waiting rooms and the tables, just, let’s collaborate, let’s start something, let’s continue to get going on this work because it is important and, if not now, when.
Janet: Okay, terrific. We’re running out of time. I don’t even think we have time for Q and A, my apologies. Again, it’s technology. We’re doing the best we can. This was really fantastic. Please, everybody, please stay in touch, please, please, please start thinking about what you can do in your community or within Boston to try to do some of these call to actions from all these various smart and very talented individuals. So, have a good day everybody.