Democracy Funders September Meeting

Tuesday, September 14, 2021 9:00am - 10:30am CDT

Place and Policy: Community design and civic participation

How does the built environment affect the way people participate in our society? Who has access to what types of spaces, and how does this reflect our policies and priorities? From transportation to parks to housing, the way our communities are designed has enormous impact on how – and who – participates in civic life. Join us to learn how community leaders are involved with advocating for neighborhoods and communities that thrive for those who live in them. 


Featured speakers:

Paul Bauknight started his own design firm in 1991 and is the principle designer behind many North Minneapolis projects including the Urban League, the renovation of the Plymouth Avenue Townhomes, Plymouth Christian Youth Center, Seed Academy and others. Over his career he’s served as the project manager for the African-American Men Project for Hennepin County, interim executive director for A Minnesota Without Poverty, and director of urban place-making for Urban Homeworks. Throughout, he's strengthened his understanding of the connection between economic and social systems and our built environment. Today, Paul is the project implementation director for the Minneapolis Parks Foundation, a fellow at the Minnesota Design Center at the University of Minnesota and lives in North Minneapolis with his wife.

Laura Zabel is the Executive Director of Springboard for the Arts, an economic and community development agency run by and for artists. Springboard provides programs that help artists make a living and a life, and programs that help communities connect to the creative power of artists. Springboard is a nationally recognized leader in artist-led community development, creative placemaking and cross-sector collaboration. Springboard’s work has been featured by the New York Times, PBS, Wall Street Journal, Stanford Social Innovation Review and The Guardian and directly impacts over 25,000 artists each year. Through their free toolkits, training and resources Springboard’s programs have been replicated in over 100 communities across the U.S. and internationally.

In the last year, Springboard scaled their artist emergency relief fund to support over 2,500 artists in their region and helped over 80 communities nationwide start their own locally-rooted emergency funds. Through their Artists Respond program, Springboard is supporting artists to respond directly to urgent community needs, including racial justice, social isolation, and rural-urban solidarity. In 2021, Springboard launched one of the nation’s first guaranteed income programs focused on artists, inspired by the city of St. Paul and Mayors for Guaranteed Income.

Zabel has been honored with numerous awards, including the YBCA 100, Gard Foundation Award of Excellence, Common Future Local Economy Fellowship and the Bush Foundation Leadership Fellowship. Zabel chairs the board of directors of the Metropolitan Consortium of Community Developers and serves as an advisor to Dakota Resources, The Laundromat Project, Local Initiatives Support Corporation and the University of Kansas Department of Theater and Dance.

Stephanie Brown is the Executive Director of Urban Land Institute Minnesota, where she works with local leaders in real estate, development, and planning to advance sustainable, equitable, and thriving communities. Previously, Stephanie worked as an entrepreneur and consultant, providing strategic planning for non-profits, public sector agencies, and foundations on affordable housing, community engagement, and economic inclusion. She spent four years with McKinsey & Company, consulting on infrastructure development and public sector transformations around the globe. Stephanie holds a BA from Georgetown University, and an MPA and MUP from Harvard University.


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