The past week’s events have impacted us all. As I watch the footage of protests and the evolving violence, my mind digs deep searching for answers as my gut aches. What happened to George Floyd and others is tragic and senseless. It should never have happened, and it’s our collective responsibility to make sure it doesn’t happen again. This is our wake-up call.
I know my words won’t, by themselves, solve any of the problems facing our country. I do hope they help open-up a conversation on how we as global citizens can peacefully work towards bringing people together and creating a world that is defined by equity, diversity, and justice. We need to have reasonable, respectful discourse about our differences, about change. Don’t listen to those who espouse bullying, domination, or ignorance. These are the moments when we need to gather up empathy and reason and push ourselves to be better. To do better. To be a voice for change.
I’m reminded of the unjust, unimaginable, and frankly unforgivable experiences that because of who I am, I’ve never had to endure. My standing as an educated white man has insulated me from experiencing – and sometimes even recognizing – much of the fear, worry, and hatred that others experience. Although I can never fully relate to, or understand the things that black Americans experience, I can stand beside them in solidarity – as an advocate and ally.
What can we do together? We can recognize our own unconscious bias – even when we don’t want to believe it’s there. We can make room for and lift voices that are different from our own. We don’t need to tolerate belligerence and ignorance. We can stand up, take a position, do the right thing. We can create opportunity and grow Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion starting right here in all our firms. We can work harder to ensure that our designs promote and serve equitable communities.
At its best, architecture and design create community. Holistic, diverse, vibrant, eclectic community. Let’s be committed to supporting our people and our cities around the world in their quest for healthier communities and a more equitable future.
At the end of the day, we can find the answer to the questions that are digging at our minds and gut within each of us. We must be the change. Every interaction, every decision, and every act. With clients, colleagues, friends, and even strangers, each of us can make an impact that causes ripples. Join us in resolutely and unapologetically standing up for justice, equity, and peace. Join us in being part of the solution that pushes these dark times into a distant memory and creates a nation that truly lives into the ideal on which it was founded. It’s within our grasp. But we must intentionally and collectively stand up. Join us to be a voice for change.