As part of our commitment to diversity and inclusion, we created and shared an initial set of initiatives, one of our first calls to action was officially recognizing two annual celebrations on our calendar going forward – Juneteenth and Martin Luther King Day – to utilize as days of service, where we can come together as a team and give back to our local communities.
Last Saturday, June 19th, was Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day, which commemorates the emancipation of enslaved people in the US. This year, our Miami team joined the Mino Learning Collaborative, a grassroots organization in South Florida created to support and empower BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) educators and students in the greater Miami area in one of their Juneteenth events. The events they hosted this year focused on battling food insecurity, promoting wellness, and beautifying Miami’s historically Black neighborhoods. Our team arranged to work at the Charles R. Drew K-8 Center in Liberty City, Miami’s first magnet school for the arts, to revive and prepare the garden areas for the students, who utilize these both for educational purposes and using its harvest to put back into their community.
“The event had a great turnout, and we had the opportunity to meet and connect with one of the Miami Commissioners who was thrilled to hear about SB Architects’ participation. Overall a successful event, looking forward to participating in more community-based opportunities in the future and getting more of the team involved.” Tiffany Montañez, Associate & Job Captain.
“Participating in the Juneteenth event was a great way to meet the community and get our hands dirty to help beautify the school’s garden. We shared many laughs, sweat, and work. It was also a great opportunity to introduce my son to the concept of volunteering and helping others through service. It took some convincing for him to join, but in the end, he said he had a great time and understood why it’s important.” Glen Santayana, Associate & Project Manager.
“I wanted to teach my kids the meaning of Juneteenth and the meaning of contributing and collaborating with everyone to create a sense of community. In the end, mission accomplished – my kids told me at the end of the day that they would love to volunteer again!” Ruben Hung, Associate & Job Captain.
“The day was full of joyful energy. Everyone was having so much fun, we ended up finishing all our gardening early!” Hermann Gonzalez, Senior Associate & Project Architect.
“I had a great time celebrating this day of freedom with my colleagues and family. I spent a portion of my free time in 2020 getting more familiar with gardening and trying to grow my own small crops at home, so I loved being part of this volunteering experience and helping clean up the gardening beds for these children to enjoy in the fall. I really hope they can sense the great energy we all put onto the soil that day and that they can enjoy the process of growing their own food while learning more about sovereignty and the importance of this concept.” Vikki Tou, Designer.
Over in San Francisco, Associates Andrew Richler and Nancy McClure headed to the Juneteenth Celebration at the Ferry Building to explore the stands spotlighting local Black producers, musicians, and food. The event coordinators unveiled an online market with special-edition educations materials, which aligns with an initiative Nancy has been developing.
Nancy has personally prototyped a set of ‘sketch kits’, which are intended to be used for an in-person, public space sketching event, to promote awareness of Black designers and support disadvantaged youths. The sketchbook kit includes is a custom-made bandolier (protects the book and holds sketching tools), a set of pens/pencils and insert cards that list the physical and emotional benefits of sketching, tips on the sketching tools, and a personal story of several of our volunteer designers about how they started sketching, and what their sketching style is.
We envision an in-person event, where the attendees would spend 1-2 hours at a public-access building (identified by NOMA (National Organization of Minority Architects as being designed/constructed by Black architects/designers/builders) in the Bay Area (and Miami, where we have an office), and break into groups for a sketching tutorial guided by one of the firm’s design staff. We will update you on our progress as the idea/event unfolds.