Comunidad la piedra

Community-based Design practices in La Piedra, Dominican Republic

Collaborators: MSU Denver - Design Class 2013, Guanin Cultural Center (DR), Altos de Chavon Escuela de Diseño (DR)

Role: Co-documentation of design practices through photography, videography, video editing, and journalism

Community Empowerment

As designers, it is important to be culturally aware of the practices used to work with resilient communities. It is essential to co-design with the community and not for them. The design team did not want to come in and change a culture but instead offer some design skills to support the way of living. The approach was first to observe, and then proceed into a process of immersion. The design team lived with La Piedra community to understand their challenges and opportunities. From there, community trust was developed allowing design research to take place. After research practices were initiated, a design process was able to take place towards products and service solutions. The experience was a short three weeks primarily supporting the youth of La Piedra.

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Trust & Immersion

It was important for our team to know & understand the community before initiating a design response.

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Design Process

Identifying community strengths & collaborative group discussions of research & a possible design response. 

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Community Ownership

Working alongside community members to provide ownership over design process & tools.

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Candid Documentation

A strength Ángel holds is documenting the creative process. His main contribution to the project was the candid approach to capture the collaboration spirit of the design team and La Piedra community. Collaborating with teamates, Ángel helped develop multimedia documentation to storytell the student experience, but most importantly, the story of Comunidad La Piedra.

Design Outcomes

In the short three-week experience, the design team and La Piedra community developed a wayfinding system throughout the one-acre community residence. Also, a dual language educational toolkit was developed, alongside a community events board, and a community mural. Other contributions were in support of healthcare awareness and an update Guanin Center’s online presence.