Debra Guenther Selected for LAF Innovation and Leadership Fellowship

Date Posted: 03.16.2021

Mithun partner Debra Guenther was selected by the Landscape Architecture Foundation (LAF) to receive a 2021-2022 Fellowship for Innovation and Leadership. Now in its fifth year, the program supports the advancement of ideas that have the potential to create positive and profound change in the profession, the environment and humanity.

Debra’s year-long study will kick off in June and focus on “Return to Community: Building Practice and Advocacy for Community Wealth Building.” As the wealth gap continues to expand and the country looks for ways to build back after the pandemic, this is a window of opportunity to grow the alternative systems of closed-loop community wealth building that are emerging. These strategies focus on community-based organizations and include building long-term relationships between designers and the public we serve.

The intent is to make explicit the connections between design and new forms of economic and governance structures that have direct community benefits. These could include design strategies, co-created with the communities they serve, that support workforce development, youth leadership programs and green benefit districts.

The process is designed to increase landscape architecture’s relationship with the social justice movement, make plain the relevance of practice for new generations seeking meaningful work, and reshape expectations between lived experience and design-thinking.

Mithun’s work with outstanding community-based organizations such as Fab-5 and Hilltop Action Committee in Tacoma, Washington: The Watershed Project and Urban Tilth in North Richmond, California; ECOSS in the Delridge neighborhood of Seattle and the Sun Valley Community Connectors in Denver have inspired and informed the thinking behind this proposal.