The Local Center
The Local Center connects neighborhood leaders, designers, and government agencies to transform public space across New York City. Beginning this spring, we will equip five neighborhood organizations with technical assistance, funding, and connections to reclaim public spaces for new cultural celebrations and storytelling.
We believe all New York City neighborhoods should have the power and resources to shape their own futures. Top-down planning and public engagement practices leave few opportunities for communities to drive their own visions for public space. In low-income communities of color, many residents feel over-planned and distrustful that new investments will respond to their needs.
The Local Center aims to support neighborhood leaders to shape public spaces in their neighborhoods. Local organizations who advocate for their communities day in and day out know best what their neighborhoods need. Through new connections to local organizations, designers can support them to bring their visions to life. Our goal is to create meaningful opportunities for community leaders, designers, and city agencies to model design approaches that center community visions, resulting in more just and joyful public spaces across the city.
We’re starting with culture. Every New Yorker deserves to see their experience reflected in the public realm. Coming together in our streets, parks, and plazas to share traditions and tell stories is essential in building resilient communities. In a challenging moment for New York City – driven by a pandemic, housing crisis, and uneven economy – the public realm can play an important role in our city’s recovery.
Through festivals, markets, and installations, our partners aim to reclaim public spaces to reflect the unique character of their neighborhoods. Along the way, they will use community design and cultural programming to organize their neighbors, develop vision plans, and advocate for future investments.
Call for Video Storyteller
We’re seeking an independently contracted video storyteller to document the inaugural projects of the Local Center.
Submissions due by May 23rd.Learn more and apply
Join a Project Team – Response deadline closed on May 3rd.
Call for Partners – Response deadline closed on December 19th.
How We Work
- We invite local organizations serving low-income communities of color across the five boroughs to share their visions for public space.
- We build teams of designers, engineers, lawyers, and other collaborators to support our partners with community engagement, visioning, and activation.
- We offer seed grants and build relationships with government agencies to help partners realize their projects.
- We meet as a cohort to solve problems, workshop ideas, and dream up how to build a more just and beautiful city.
- We help neighborhood partners and project teams realize public space projects and develop bright visions for the future.
Who We Are
ANHD and Urban Design Forum are bringing together our communities to build partnerships between community development leaders and design practitioners.
Urban Design Forum mobilizes civic leaders to confront defining issues in the built environment. We are an independent membership organization that empowers professionals of diverse backgrounds, industries and perspectives to shape a better future for all New Yorkers. We investigate complex challenges in the built environment, study alternative approaches from cities around the world, and advance progressive strategies to build a more democratic city.
Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development (ANHD) builds community power to win affordable housing and thriving, equitable neighborhoods for all New Yorkers. As a member organization of 80+ community groups across New York City, we use research, advocacy, and grassroots organizing to build equity and justice in low-income, historically marginalized neighborhoods and city-wide.
Support Our Work
This initiative is made possible with lead support from the Mellon Foundation and with additional major support from the Charles H. Revson Foundation, the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation, and the NYC Green Relief & Recovery Fund.
To learn more about supporting our projects, please contact Katherine Sacco, email@example.com and Lauren Nye, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Local Center was inspired by generous conversations and humbling collaborations with Asian Americans for Equality, Bed-Stuy Gateway BID, Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, Community Design Collaborative, Community League of the Heights, Detroit Collaborative Design Center, Fourth Arts Block, LA-Más, Neighborhood Design Center, Northwest Bronx Community & Clergy Coalition, The Albert and Tina Small Center at Tulane University, Think!Chinatown, Van Alen Institute, 82nd Street Partnership, and many others. The Local Center builds on our recent community-led design program Neighborhoods Now, a pandemic-response initiative with Van Alen Institute from 2020 to 2022.
Special thanks to Jing Liu and Barika Williams for their leadership in shaping this initiative. We also thank our advisory committee members: Patrice Derrington, Jeff Hébert, Fauzia Khanani, Jing Liu, Margaret Newman, and James von Klemperer. We thank the members of the selection panel who identified our inaugural partners: Sreoshy Banerjea, NYC Public Design Commission; Michelle Delk, Snøhetta; Libertad O. Guerra, The Clemente Center; Jeff Hébert, HR&A Advisors; Kendal Henry, NYC Department of Cultural Affairs; Fauzia Khanani, Studio Fōr; Chris Kui; Elena Martinez, WHEDco, Bronx Music Heritage Center; Catherine Mbali Green-Johnson, The Laundromat Project; and Emily Weidenhof, NYC Department of Transportation.
Get in Touch
Sign up for our newsletter for program updates.
For program inquiries: Martha Snow, email@example.com
For press inquiries: Graham Bishai, firstname.lastname@example.org and Crys Letona, email@example.com