Every year we at the Knowl­ton School wel­come impor­tant design­ers in the land­scape field to join us as Glim­ch­er Dis­tin­guished Pro­fes­sors. This year, I was hap­py to invite the Kounkuey Design Ini­tia­tive to work with us from afar; along with my stu­dio class, I’ll be work­ing with them this winter/​spring to doc­u­ment their work and meth­ods and assist them in get­ting a new project off the ground. 

They were kind enough to sit down with me this past week as part of the Baumer Lec­ture Series, reimag­ined for this year in the absence of a live audi­ence as the Baumer Con­ver­sa­tions. This is the clos­est I will ever be to being a tele­vi­sion jour­nal­ist, which is prob­a­bly for the best. As many estab­lished design­ers try to fig­ure out how to rec­on­cile their pre­vi­ous habits with an actu­al com­mit­ment to social equi­ty, KDI can share with us fif­teen years of expe­ri­ence in work­ing with under­re­sourced com­mu­ni­ties. As you will find out by watch­ing, a big part of what makes them spe­cial is their com­mit­ment to 1) learn from past mis­takes of design­ers doing this kind of work, which involves in large part 2) mak­ing a com­mit­ment to work­ing with cer­tain places instead of sprint­ing back and forth look­ing for a new mark to make.

(February 2021)