Design students empower residents to apply for Property Tax Exemption (PTE)
Chad Reichert Professor College for Creative Studies, MI
Foreclosure is a historic and abundant problem in the city of Detroit. Neighbor to Neighbor is a community-led tax foreclosure prevention effort that provides opportunities and resources for people to stay in their homes. A group of 8 BFA students from the College for Creative Studies Communication Design department led by Professor Chad Reichert collaborated with Quicken Loans Community Fund (QLCF) to empower residents to apply for Property Tax Exemption (PTE). The results of this 15-week collaboration helped raise awareness and built a greater sense of trust within the Detroit community.
The presentation will address the obstacles residents faced in the application process, the human costs of tax foreclosure and how the students adapted to work alongside residents to build an inclusive and empathetic approach. Additionally, the discussion will revolve around three project steps: ethnographic research, persona development and design execution. These steps addressed the question: what happens when design students observe, listen and learn from people whose voices are left out of the decision-making process. Further, the presentation will explore how design education can evolve and continue to develop more meaningful civic/social experiences and interactions.
Mariam Asad Graduate student Georgia Institute of Technology
Whereas much academic scholarship engages with the concepts and principles of justice; design research is a unique opportunity to challenge oppression by leveraging design-based resources and practices. This presentation will discuss some concrete and pragmatic examples of design research work that tries to materially contributes to community-based efforts around injustice. I draw from my fieldwork with advocacy and activist communities in Atlanta to explore how to better align design and anti-oppression work. The first vignette takes place during design workshops with housing justice activists: here, we facilitated prototyping exercises to prompt activists to envision technological interventions to support their political work. The second vignette is based in a project to co-develop with local communities a playbook for civic engagement. This series of design workshops marshaled existing wisdom and resources in neighborhoods to increase their capacity for agency and influencing change to address their local needs and concerns. I draw connections across our design research work through these two fieldsites to encourage design work that has higher stakes in local civic change and positions designers and researchers as facilitators to support our community collaborators doing justice and anti-oppression work on the ground.