Dear KRA Community,
This global pandemic has brought to the surface many inequalities in our country and in our communities. As president of KRA and the mother of an African and American daughter, social equity, within our goals to create sustainable environments, holds a central place in my heart. The past few weeks of civil unrest due to yet another violent murder of a black person, has created a global movement unlike any we have seen for decades. It is a moment for us to open our eyes, listen to the people of color in our lives, educate ourselves, and support change in whatever way we can.
As architects and designers of the built world, it is our responsibility to help create a more sustainable environment, and while we may focus mostly on the buildings and landscapes, it is only one small piece of the puzzle. We must also focus on the people we design for and the people in our profession. Without a representation of the diversity in our country, in our profession, we will move very slowly towards solving not only climate crisis, but many other deficiencies in our built environment like affordable housing for everyone, quality schools for all children, quality healthcare facilities in all communities, prison design that is focused on reform vs. punishment, and the list goes on. Until there is equity, liberty, and justice for all in this country, there will be civil unrest, and that impacts everyone, black or white, or any of the many identities we all have. We cannot expect perfection, but we can all do better.
In reflecting on how we at KRA can do better, we have committed to the following:
- Last year, we started a scholarship for women and high school students of color, who are interested in architecture, to attend the Summer Design program at UMass Amherst. We committed to that scholarship again this year, and we asked area firms to join us in supporting this scholarship. This resulted in $5,000 worth of pledges.
- We seek interns and staff with diverse cultural backgrounds, with the belief that diversity of experiences only adds to better designs and enriches our “corporate culture”. We will continue to actively seek women and minority interns and staff.
- Our staff will be attending a 2-day workshop called Interrupting Racism, which we hope will empower our staff to use their voices to “effectively and respectfully interrupt bias”. It will also help us craft a stronger diversity mission statement for KRA.
- I have joined the Amherst Area Chamber Equity Task Force to collaborate with other community members on how we can mitigate inherent racial bias and promote minority businesses.
- We pledge to continue the conversation and not let it fall to the wayside as it has done so many times in the past. We are committed to being part of the change.
I hope you will all use your voice and participate in being a part of the change that has been a long time coming and needs to happen now.
Aelan B. Tierney, AIA, LEED AP