By the People: Designing a Better America
This exhibition was on display from September 30, 2016 to February 26, 2017.
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The United States represents one of the world’s largest economies, but a record 46.7 million Americans—many in working families—live below the federal poverty line. As income inequality widens, stagnating wages, rising housing costs, and limited public transport are diminishing social mobility as well. The third in a series of exhibitions dedicated to socially responsible design, By the People examines these complex and systemic challenges and invites visitors to explore 60 collaborative designs from across the United States that engage the public in efforts to revitalize their communities and improve opportunities. Collectively, these works illuminate how design can act as a catalyst for positive action.
Spanning regions and borders, these designs are responses to decades of divestment, social and spatial segregation, and mounting climate challenges, which have galvanized designers and communities to work together to create more inclusive and sustainable neighborhoods, towns, and cities. A broad and diverse coalition—from Latina grandmothers and Kentucky coal miners to Detroit urban planners and Brooklyn coders—has created resourceful strategies to counter social and economic disparities. By the People demonstrates that bridging divides and creating alliances—listening, valuing, and incorporating local community expertise—are essential for envisioning, designing, and building a more just and equitable America.