© 2018

Resilience for All

Striving for Equity Through Community-Driven Design


Table of contents

About this book


In the United States, people of color are disproportionally more likely to live in environments with poor air quality, in close proximity to toxic waste, and in locations more vulnerable to climate change and extreme weather events.

In many vulnerable neighborhoods, structural racism and classism prevent residents from having a seat at the table when decisions are made about their community. In an effort to overcome power imbalances and ensure local knowledge informs decision-making, a new approach to community engagement is essential.
In Resilience for All, Barbara Brown Wilson looks at less conventional, but often more effective methods to make communities more resilient. She takes an in-depth look at what equitable, positive change through community-driven design looks like in four communities—East Biloxi, Mississippi; the Lower East Side of Manhattan; the Denby neighborhood in Detroit, Michigan; and the Cully neighborhood in Portland, Oregon. These vulnerable communities have prevailed in spite of serious urban stressors such as climate change, gentrification, and disinvestment. Wilson looks at how the lessons in the case studies and other examples might more broadly inform future practice. She shows how community-driven design projects in underserved neighborhoods can not only change the built world, but also provide opportunities for residents to build their own capacities. 


Community-Driven Design Bayou Restoration The Fargo Project Urbanism Schools Public Space Green Infrastructure the United States neighborhoods

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.CharlottesvilleUSA

About the authors

Barbara Brown Wilson’s research and teaching focus on the ethics, theory, and practice of sustainable community design and development, and on the history of urban social movements. Wilson's current research projects include understanding how grassroots community networks reframe public infrastructure in more climate and culturally appropriate ways across the U.S., and helping to elevate the standards of evaluation for community engaged design around notions of social and ecological justice. Her research is often change-oriented—she collaborates with real community partners to identify opportunities for engaged and integrated sustainable development.  She is a member of the Equity Collective, whose work is currently featured in the Cooper Hewitt Museum's By the People: Designing a Better America Exhibition. Alongside Architect Jeana Ripple, Wilson is coordinating the community engaged aspects of the Public Art Installation for the ArtHouse Social Kitchen Project in Gary, Indiana. She is also working, as a researcher, an educator, and a board member of the Piedmont Housing Alliance (PHA) with their leadership to identify venues where PHA residents can more actively engage in and shape their communities. In those collective posts, Wilson is serving as a resource ally to PHA's new Youth Leadership in Land Use program that brings in resident youth from Friendship Court as valued members of the design team for the Redevelopment project currently underway in their neighborhood.


She is a co-founder of the Design Futures Student Leadership Forum, a five day student leadership training which convenes students and faculty from a consortium of universities with leading practitioners all working to elevate the educational realms of community engaged design; and a co-founder of the Austin Community Design and Development Center (ACDDC), a nonprofit design center that provides high quality green design and planning services to lower income households and the organizations that serve them.

Bibliographic information