|The Sasaki Foundation published a report with compelling research from the inaugural cohort of the Sasaki Foundation Design Grants, which summarizes five innovative and impactful community-based projects. The projects address a range of challenges from fostering difficult conversations around managed retreat from seawater rise in East Boston, to supporting women of color seeking to break into the tech sector workforce in Roxbury, to designing inclusive experiences for low-vision visitors to an art exhibition in Watertown, to tackling inequities in affordable housing opportunities, to addressing water quality in the Charles River.
In September 2018, the Sasaki Foundation awarded $75,000 to these five research teams and they spent the next nine months in the Incubator at Sasaki to advance and implement their projects. While working as a cohort, the team members were also able to leverage the proximity to Sasaki and meet with designers who provided design guidance and a deep breadth of knowledge about solutions to the challenges they faced.
Under the overarching theme of resiliency—environmental, social, and economic—the teams worked in four focus areas: proactive approaches to climate adaptation, new models for housing, innovation in transit and access to mobility choices, and creative community building. The projects are already having a significant impact in their respective communities and will remain as open source research with links to the project websites, to help communities that may be tackling similar issues. Metrics highlighting the impact of these projects are included in the report.
This September, the Sasaki Foundation will welcome its second cohort of researchers chosen for this distinctive and unique opportunity, who will focus on tackling challenges in the same four areas of housing, mobility, climate, and community building. The projects will address the development of a model for more dignified designs for homeless shelters, the creation of an online data platform focused on gentrification in Chinatown as impacted by short term rentals, and an inventory of housing electric capacity across diverse communities that improve disaster response in the event of gas outages.
Through our research grants, the Foundation seeks to harness the power of design thinking to promote equity and empower local communities, tackling global challenges through local action. In hosting these community research teams, the Foundation provides teams with access not only to designers at Sasaki—an award-winning international design firm—but also to the start-ups and entrepreneurs working in the Incubator at Sasaki—a vibrant coworking space in Watertown, MA.