The GSD joins High Line Network and Urban Institute to launch the Community First Toolkit, a guide for expanding equity in public spaces

Community First Toolkit
Courtesy of the High Line

The High Line Network, a program of the High Line that supports a group of nonprofit organizations transforming underutilized infrastructure into new urban landscapes, recently announced the launch of its Community First Toolkit. Developed by the High Line Network in partnership with the Harvard Graduate School of Design (Harvard GSD) and the Urban Institute, the Community First Toolkit is an equity-based action planning resource for practitioners in the field of infrastructure reuse, as well as city officials, urban planners, nonprofit leaders, and other community members.

Stephen Gray, Associate Professor of Urban Design and Caroline Filice Smith, a PhD candidate and former Irving Fellow, both participated in the development of the Toolkit.

“Race is treated more as an area of specialization than the endemic cornerstone of society and space that it is,” said Stephen Gray. “The Community First Toolkit is designed to help cities and civil society organizations contextualize their projects within legacies of racialized policy and practice—illuminating the complicated relationship between systemic racism and the production of space—and equip them to tackle impediments to community resilience.”

The Community First Toolkit aims to address inequities caused by historic and persistent infrastructural racism by putting community first in design, budgeting, and all phases of park planning. Fifteen Network members collaborated with research partners over two years to build a new, practitioner-based process and set of tools to do this work. The resulting Community First Toolkit is designed to help park organizations address inequities caused by infrastructural racism, and shape public spaces that bring social, environmental, and economic benefits to communities.

For more information about the Community First Toolkit, view the Embedding Equity in Public Space: The Community First Toolkit Launch, held on May 18, 2022.