by Elena Clarke (MDes '20), Malika Leiper (MUP '19), Chandra Rouse (MUP '19)
The Overtown Commons Toolkit is a multi-pronged, multi-phased social and spatial strategy for the residents Overtown, Miami. It addresses the historic and contemporary effects of racism on the built environment and the spatial implications of imposed racialized urban policies in neighborhoods throughout the country. The design proposal works by presenting residents with a kit of parts (positive pathways + civic stations) that can be used to transform streetscapes and promote connectivity, while a workforce development program is built through youth civic engagement and job-training using a model of collective action. Informed by interviews with residents of Overtown, both past and present, young and old, our proposal responds to the following questions: How do we respect the spatial agency of residents and support the creation of a civic commons network as political power building?—and—What becomes possible when we see cities’ civic assets as a single network? Our aim is to provide a grounded and sustainable framework for positive change that fosters civic engagement, cultural sustainability, and inclusive economic development for the future of Overtown and its residents.