CDLI seeks to create a variety of opportunities for students to get involved in community design throughout Greater Boston. Current and past projects include:


 Developing the Equitable Impacts Framework (EIF) with the High Line Network (2019-)

 Led by Professor Stephen Gray, the High Line Network Equitable Impacts Framework (EIF) Pilot is a joint initiative of CDLI, the High Line Network, and the Urban Institute. Established in 2019, the EIF Pilot consists of nine infrastructure reuse projects across North America, all of whom share commitments to managing and stewarding public spaces towards a more just and comprehensive vision of equity within their communities and cities. 

 CDLI brings a critical lens to this implementation-focused Pilot, emphasizing the need to grapple with the embedded racial inequities and histories of the HLN project sites – and ultimately working with Pilot organizations to think through antiracist urban design frameworks and strategies.

 Sistered Design Action Research with Destination Design School of Agricultural Estates (2020-2021)

 Over the 2020-2021 academic year, CDLI responded to an invitation from the notable design activist, artist, community developer, and Harvard Loeb Fellow (2016), Euneika Rogers-Sipp, whose Destination Design School of Agricultural Estates (DDSAE) activates community voices and agency in enhancing inter-generational access to traditional lands and resources in the Black Belt Region of the Southern United States. 

Through a “sistered” design action research seminar led by Dr. Lily Song, CDLI reimagined and futured the Black Belt Region as fount and staging ground for a reparation-based Green New Deal. Working in five teams— mobility + access, food + fiber, housing + buildings, energy + waste, and water + climate—students created ESRI Story Maps and stakeholder-power diagrams that reckoned with 21st century dilemmas, movements, and possibilities for just transitions in the Georgia Black Belt. 

Sistered Design Action Research with the Alliance for Community Transit- Los Angeles (ACT-LA) (2020)

In Summer 2020, CDLI responded to an invitation from ACT-LA leaders to accomplice a campaign to shift funding from transit policing to public investments centering the needs of the majority Black and Latinx transit ridership in the LA region– including better bus services, fare free transit and community-led safety alternatives. Through the 2020-2021 academic year, the CDLI team created spatial strategies with ACT-LA members and allies to transform LA Metro (transit and public spaces) into “sanctuaries” or safe spaces for transit riders and neighborhood residents, and developed visual communication strategies and materials.


 Sistered Design Action Research with the Place Leadership Network


Over the 2019-2020 academic year, CDLI supported equitable public realm strategies by 8 Boston-area place-based organizations affiliated with the Boston Foundation’s Place Leadership Network (PLN), including main streets, parks conservancies, business improvement districts, and CDCs. 

Through a “sistered” design action research seminar led by Dr. Lily Song, CDLI conducted joint data gathering and analysis, deliberative dialogue with partner organizations, and reflective praxis of action research. The larger aim was to explore challenges and strategies available to community based organizations to promote inclusive, democratic, and vibrant public spaces within an urban and regional context of racialized, classed, and gendered im/mobility and access.


Technical Assistance to the Boston Community Preservation Act 

2018-2019,  CDLI partnered with the Community Preservation Act  (CPA) department within the City of Boston and assisted in conducting information sessions about CPA, meeting with possible and current applicants about project ideas, and building out the infrastructure for a Community Ambassador’s pilot program. The intention of the pilot program was to provide technical assistance and capacity building to organizations seeking to apply for CPA fundings while also bringing together community members and city officials to advocate for and promote the possibilities of the CPA funding.


Implementation of Studio Projects in Lowell, MA 

Building on Second Semester Core Urban Planning Studio, CDLI supported Master in Urban Planning students to collaboratively implement their studio projects with local partners in Lowell, MA.

Malika Leiper: People, Pedal, Power |  In response to the city of Lowell’s plan to increase bicycle ridership over the next five years, this project explored the cultural and social complexities of mobility and transportation for the city’s Cambodian American community, which makes up roughly thirty per cent of the total population. Through the participatory design of a bike rack for the Cambodian Mutual Assistance Association of Lowell, along with educational activities and cultural programming, Malika advanced the longterm objective of facilitating the necessary dialogue between the city and its residents, which I hope will inform more just and sustainable pathways for the future of transportation in Lowell.

Download a summary report of the project here

Margaret Haltom: Planning Workshop to Reimagine Stoklosa Middle School Open Space |  With a team of eight middle school students at Stoklosa Middle, Margaret facilitated the reimagining elements of the Stoklosa school property to better meet student needs. Stoklosa is located on a former brownfield site and one of the most racially diverse schools in the state but receives proportionately less funding per student than any other school in Lowell. Through a series of mental mapping exercises, group goal setting, and a photovoice project, the middle school students built out a vision for a new playspace on school grounds including an outdoor volleyball court, a box with balls and jump rumps, and increased seating. Subsequently, students received a $500 grant to implement their ideas from the Greater Lowell Community Foundation.

Download a summary report of the project here