12:30-1:45pm ET / 9:30-10:45am PT

Equity-Centered Community Design:  Centering Community Members as Experts


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Created by Creative Reaction Lab (CRXLAB), Equity-Centered Community Design is an award-winning creative problem-solving process based on equity, humility-building, and integrating history and healing practices. The process addresses power dynamics and co-creating with the community to achieve sustained community health, economic opportunities, and social and cultural solidarity.

As Levitt venues and concert sites are positioned to catalyze positive change in communities, this session will detail how this framework focuses on a community’s culture and needs so participants can gain tools to help dismantle systemic oppression and create a future with equity for all. Learning objectives for this session include:

  • Ways to invite diverse co-creators and bring together people with different perspectives, values, experiences, and expertise to a design scenario; the goal is to critically examine who is invited to decision-making tables and ensure community members most impacted by the design scenario are not only invited, but included and heard;
  • Building humility and empathy as a step to help examine how our own identities, values, biases, assumptions, and relationships to power and privilege impact engagement with ourselves, each other, and the communities we work with; it’s not enough to build empathy, but to acknowledge what we know we don’t know;
  • Working with community—particularly those who are directly impacted by the scenario—to learn about the specific needs, goals, values, and perspectives of those community members; community members’ insights are crucial for understanding what their priorities and needs are versus assuming what the community might want.

Please see below for speaker biography.

Stephen Rayfield (he/him, él), Learning and Education Director, joined the Creative Reaction Lab team having previous professional experience as a teacher, a professional learning designer, a trainer and consultant, and a school leader. His education includes a doctorate in Education Policy and Organizational Leadership and a Masters in Education Leadership from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, with postgraduate study and undergraduate studies from Harvard University and the University of NC at Greensboro. Rayfield currently serves on several boards and charities and has received awards and honors for his work, including the Guy B. Phillips Award for Educational Leadership (UNC), Advanced Education Leadership (Harvard), Teacher of the Year 2015–2016, N.C. Teaching Fellow, Chapel Hill Hometown Hero, Village Pride Award Chapelboro, and Outstanding Achievement in Teaching Award (UNCG). His most rewarding professional accomplishment, however, has been to build deep and lasting relationships with partners, communities, and changemakers that last beyond their time together professionally. He believes deeply in the power of connection and relationships.

Creative Reaction Lab (CRXLAB) is changing the way people address systemic oppression, using its innovative, award-winning problem-solving process: Equity-Centered Community Design. Their process centers the people with lived experience as the Living Experts with whom we should co-create to design interventions that are equitable, sustainable, and meet people’s needs. Within this context, practitioners understand that if we are to build equitable interventions, there is significant value in seeking and understanding historical context and the need for healing practices, along with acknowledging and dismantling power constructs throughout a design process.