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La Union - Non-Governmental Organization




Project Experience: Jan. 2012 - May. 2012, New York City and Brooklyn, NY

My Role: Design Researcher, Urban Designer, Design Strategist

Contribution: Participatory Action Research, Human Centered Design, Community Engagement, Urban Design

Collaboration: La Union (Client), European Union-United States Atlantis Program, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (Leuven, Belgium), Università IUAV di Venezia (Venice, Italy), Luke Keller and Maggie Ollove ( Co-designers – MFA Transdisciplinary Design, Parsons The New School for Design)

Awards and Recognition: Awarded European Union - United States Atlantis Program Scholarship to participate in 2012 Recycling City Summer Program at Università Iuav di Venezia, Venice

Project Photos Courtesy Namkyu Chun and Jennifer Meyer

Empowering a community organization


As a Design Strategist and Researcher, I collaboratively proposed socio-praxis processes as mechanisms for the self-organization and empowerment of the community group La Unión, a grassroots organization based in the low-income neighborhood of Sunset Park, Brooklyn. 


La Unión, an NGO with over 600 members, is working to advance immigration reform, and fight for environmental and social justice issues for the predominantly Mexican immigrant families of Sunset Park in Brooklyn. La Unión was looking to lay the foundation for a sustained 5 year partnership with the Parsons and Atlantis network, to bring about increased participation addressing community issues amongst their Latin American residents of Sunset Park.


The intention of the project was to study La Unión’s intergenerational model of social change work, processes and agents that affect the community of Sunset Park, and to speculate socially, environmentally and economically alternative models. 


We understood La Union’s work as a means to develop a sense of wellbeing amongst the residents of Sunset Park. The objective was thus to develop research and fieldwork frameworks that document and effect wellbeing in this urban ecosystem of Sunset Park. We began by researching the five layers, namely environment, access, food, health and recreation, that defined the physical, emotional, spiritual, and psychological well-being of the residents of Sunset Park.

Going from subject/object dichotomy to subject/subject relationships , we implemented a research and social intervention based methodology through the production and use of participatory mechanisms and collaborative methodologies.


Co-created the Action Packet with La Union, a workbook to be used by the community of Sunset Park to remain actively engaged with their social organizations. Developed a sustainable model for social change work that elevates their member’s voices as experts of their own experiences and creates opportunities for taking action in transforming the policies that oppress them.