AIA Seattle Racial Justice Commitments
As AIA Seattle reflects on our pursuit of racial justice, we are committing to a process of transparency in what measurable actions we are taking. As a member-led organization, we are establishing this evolving list for the sake of mutual accountability — so you may see what we are doing, and tell us where we should be moving in the future.
- In April 2021, in collaboration with NOMA NW and Planning in Color, AIA Seattle launched Culture Change in Practice: A Leadership Cohort, a four-part, peer-based learning program to specifically provide architecture and allied firms the tools and community to meet the explicit goals and metrics laid out in NOMA NW’s Call-to-Action. This program was an outgrowth of the Racial Justice Working Group, formed in the wake of last June’s town hall, organized horizontally to equip our firm owners and decision-makers with the tools to build a more equitable profession.
- In September 2020, AIA Seattle endorsed the NOMA NW Call-to-Action, and became a Platinum-level sponsor of the chapter. NOMA NW is the local chapter of the National Organization of Minority Architects, and “is an organization that advocates for greater cultural diversity and equity within the design industry.” AIA Seattle seeks to expand the reach of their mission and reach through our partnership, while working internally to meet the commitments laid out in the two-year Call-to-Action document and push our members to do the same.
- In support of our stated equity, diversity, and inclusion goals, AIA Seattle now has a policy that women, non-binary people, or trans people and people of color will be represented in all continuing education programs (including all panel discussions when more than two speakers are invited). This month, the Board of Directors approved a policy that AIA Seattle will no longer host or promote CE programs where the speakers are all cis-men or all white.
- In June 2020, AIA Seattle began a partnership with UW College of the Built Environment, Planning in Color, and NOMA Northwest, to create action-oriented group conversations toward racial justice. The first session, held June 30, focused on establishing the current state of the architecture profession around racial equity, and included a series of lightning talks and group discussions to establish topics for future bimonthly group discussions in the year ahead. Building off of that, this group designed a 4-part peer-based learning program, Culture Change in Practice, designed to provide architecture and allied firms the tools and community to meet the explicit goals and metrics laid out in NOMA NW’s Call-to-Action.
- In June 2020, AIA Seattle compiled a collective list of Racial Justice Resources centered on direct action, education, engagement, and uplifting Black-led organizations and efforts with the through-line of design, architecture, and space. This list has continued to get updated and we invite our members and community to contribute to the collective dialogue, learning, and action.
- Our Chapter Joins American Institute of Architects in Condemning Anti-Asian Violence and Hate. The AIA issued this statement on March 17, 2021. These violent attacks and hateful mindsets are not new, but the current surge is disturbing. We encourage our members to reach out to colleagues and contacts who may be hurting. Be there to listen and find ways to support them. We’ve added a place to report incidents of violence, harassment, discrimination as well as a site for additional reading, resources, statistics, and ways to support the Asian community to our Racial Justice Resources list.
- We acknowledge that we operate on unceded lands of various nations of Coast Salish peoples, most locally the federally-unacknowledged Duwamish, who still live and produce on this land. As an organization focused on creating and sustaining a better built environment, and a culture of design that fosters equitable, resilient, and thriving communities, we recognize that we are guests on this land, and are seeking to become better stewards, paying rent to Real Rent Duwamish.
- In 2019, AIA Seattle piloted the Intercultural Leadership Program (ILP) to support equity, diversity, and inclusion goals, with the specific vision that the AEC professions will have a culture of attracting, retaining, and promoting women, non-binary people, and people of color. As a part of the intensive ILP trainings, our staff, the board, and a cohort of 30 members completed the Intercultural Development Index (IDI) assessment which illuminated our organizational tendency to minimize cultural differences. In dominant culture groups, minimization is primarily motivated by comfort, and the desire to focus on common ground. While well-intentioned, we know the impact of this can be harmful. ‘This is how we do things here’ rather than getting curious and excited about different ways of doing. Since the ILP program, AIA Seattle has been focused on cultural self-awareness, noticing and naming differences that make a difference, and understanding power dynamics. As we work to move toward the mindsets of acceptance and adaptation, we are growing our capacity to support a more just, equitable, diverse, and inclusive profession.
- In 2019, AIA Seattle offered the monthly Conversations Towards a More Equitable Practice series for small-group discussions of cultural competency. These sessions were led by our Women in Design and Diversity Roundtable committees, based on the Guides to Equitable Practice created by the University of Minnesota and AIA.
- AIA Seattle facilitates the Diversity Roundtable committee, begun in 1986. This group hosts year-round a variety of racial justice-centric programming, including the Architects in Schools program and the annual Solstice event, focused on celebrating diversity in the profession.
- Along with our Diversity Roundtable committee’s Architecture in School program, AIA Seattle annually sponsors the ACE Mentorship program at the $1,000 level, and Seattle Architecture Foundation at the $2,500 level to support their work with K-12 students learning all about the architecture, engineering, and construction professions and our collective goal of promoting a robust pipeline of diverse emerging architects.
- AIA Seattle’s Public Policy Board is critically reevaluating the policy issues AIA works on with an intentional racial justice and social justice lens. We are adding a race and social justice section to all of our policy position statements to ensure we are answering important questions related to who is telling the story, who makes the decisions, who benefits and how, and how will this build or shift power.