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The ABX Subcommittee plans our annual symposium at the Architecture Boston Expo.

2018 Co-chairs: 
Charlotte Bouvier /
Mary McCarthy /

Committee Members:
Andrea Yoder, AIA /


The Women in Design Symposium theme at the 2018 ArchitectureBoston Expo (ABx) is From the Ground Up: Grassroots Initiatives and will explore the genesis, execution, and growth of grassroots movements as they relate to the design community along with the skills that, us as designers, can bring to their success

In recent years grassroots movements have increased as people seek to fill voids in social, policy, and implementation aspects of the built environment. Grassroots movements are often initiated in the public realm, with architects and designers playing a role alongside other professionals and members of the public to achieve a community, regional, or even national goal.  Technology now allows movement leaders to connect with the public and other practitioners to further their efforts and garner interest for their cause. What may start as a passion project can- with the right mix of collaborators- turn into a movement that has significant positive impact on the lives of people in need.

Designers must work with other members of the movement to identify ways their training, personal talents, and skills can most effectively be used to fulfill the goal of the group. This requires strong interpersonal as well as leadership skills with an understanding that collaboration and constituency consensus is crucial to keeping the movement on track.

Whatever the goal of grassroots movements- whether to change policy, to support disadvantaged groups, or to add physically to the built environment- there are common challenges with identifying a need, building support, growing effectively, and ultimately implementing measures to address the need.


90-minute presentation and/or panels related to the topic of Grassroots Initiative which may include related to the topic of Grassroots Initiatives, which may include:


PROJECTS: What are examples of grassroots movements that can serve as successful case-studies, and what are the long-term effects that these have had on the communities they serve?

What role does critical design play within the policy initiatives?

PROCESS: How does one go about identifying a goal to pursue through grassroots means? Are there certain challenges that specifically call for  this approach? How do design professionals support grassroot movements generated outside the design realm?  What type of design skills are critical and how can we, as designers, bring them to these movements? How do movements navigate the political landscape to implement initiatives?

PARTICIPANTS: How do design professionals engage with other disciplines– law, economics, cultural anthropology, politics – in order to address critical issues of a given community? How might a professional develop and foster those relationships? How does a professional identify and engage key collaborators to further grassroots movements? How can emerging design professionals contribute to these movements?


Submit proposals online to and list WID as your sponsor. Proposals are due Saturday March 31st. If you have any questions contact Mary McCarthy at or Charlotte Bouvier at