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AIA SF | Net Zero + Community Positive: Justice by Design

A just design process requires constant evaluation and evolution. In this panel discussion and workshop, Quinlin Messenger, Gregory Fischer and Kirstin Weeks of JUST Design and JUST Collaborate will share their journey toward a truly empowering design process – one that prioritizes environmental and social justice, and recognizes their interdependence.

The discussion will be anchored in East Palo Alto, a community with a history of struggle for civil rights and environmental justice. The presenters will describe two new education building projects that highlight the JUST team’s engagement and design process, its outcomes, and its continued evolution and lessons learned. The session will also include interactive opportunities for participants to brainstorm and reflect on their own projects and process in the context of justice by design.

Themes to be explored include:

– How are climate, environment, equity, and justice connected?
– How can our design process include, empower, and build community capacity?
– What building design elements are most impactful to inclusion, equity, and justice?

Learning Objectives (1.5 LU/HSW)

– WHY: Discover the interconnections between climate, environment, equity, and justice.
– WHERE: Understand the commonalities between East Palo Alto’s history of struggle for social and environmental justice and other marginalized communities.
– HOW: Learn how the design process can include, empower, and build community capacity.
– WHAT: Understand what building design elements are most impactful to inclusion, equity, and justice.


Quinlin Messenger, Creative Director and Design Justice Steward, JUST

Quinlin’s creative identity is rooted in his African American, Native American and Jewish heritage; he channels and honors these legacies through design justice, an awareness and healing modality that is at the core of his practice – engaging communities and projects with a sensitivity and focus towards healthy living, social + environmental empowerment, and legacy cultivation. In tandem, Messenger works closely with artists to facilitate conversations and experiences around race, equity, diversity, and inclusion.

As the Creative Director of JUST Design, Quinlin believes design is a tool for social and environmental transformation, and that systems can be and should be just for all. Understanding the historical, current, and future contexts of projects is integral to Quinlin’s process and approach, integrating co-creative and eco-centered practices to address the deepest challenges our communities and ecosystems face.

Gregory Fischer, Principal, Creative Facilitator, Plus One (JUST Collaborate)

Gregory Fischer is a designer and creative facilitator with extensive experience helping clients uncover and articulate their stories, translating insights into transformative opportunities. Gregory harnesses his human-centered design process and systems thinking to broaden perspectives and guide design teams toward innovative, responsive solutions. As a keenly interested and empathetic advocate he uses his design role as a catalyst: not the author, but a spark igniting powerful opportunity.

Gregory brings nearly 30 years’ experience leading a diverse range of transformative projects, including the EPACENTER and the future home for the East Palo Alto Library. He remains actively engaged in the community through advocacy, workshops and friendships.

Kirstin Weeks, Principal, Regenerative + Ecological Design, Bio Studio (JUST Collaborate)

Kirstin and her firm, Bio Studio LLC, are proud members of JUST Collaborate. A leader in regenerative design and urban ecology, Kirstin works with interdisciplinary teams to create sustainable, resilient built environments where people and nature thrive together.

After 12 years at Arup, Kirstin started Bio Studio to offer innovative, collaborative, climate-positive consulting while bringing to the forefront her passion for healing from the personal to the planetary scale, and the enhancement of wellbeing and environmental justice through connection to nature for all. Kirstin’s experience extends from ecological design leadership on mixed-use, office, civic, academic and landscape projects to field work as a naturalist, builder, and PV installer.


Nov 08 2022


12:00 pm - 1:30 pm

Local Time

  • Timezone: America/New_York
  • Date: Nov 08 2022
  • Time: 3:00 pm - 4:30 pm


AIA San Francisco

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