October 19, 2023, 9 AM Central
4 Hour Session

Urban planning has oftentimes been done to communities of color and hardly ever with them. In design, in engagement, and in implementation, how do planners truly plan places and spaces that communities love if the community isn’t represented at all? It’s no mystery as to why the spaces and places communities of color come to love are created and empowered by the community - not by planners. We talk about third places in our work yet we are not always actively using our planning knowledge and expertise to empower the development of such spaces. Despite modern-day zoning and development codes in cities across the U.S., there are ways for planners in various sectors to utilize planning as a policy AND activation tool for curating vibrant, community-led, spaces that the community can truly feel is for them. 

This session will present examples of how planning can be utilized as a tool for curating spaces in Black and Brown communities that go beyond the surface of zoning codes. It will showcase planning as a tool in various forms that provide alternative solutions for place keeping and community development in Black and Brown communities. And, lastly, it will introduce elements of New Urbanism as a means to aid in community development and place activation in Black and Brown communities.

Dee Powell will present alternative methods of communicating urban planning tools and policies and placemaking/place keeping in Black and Brown communities. She will also present concepts from the Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) which focuses on creating vibrant, walkable communities and how that is represented in Black and Brown communities.


  • Attendees will learn how to collaborate across disciplines - including the different types of professional, community, and creator roles - as it relates to the built environment and places

  • Attendees will learn about the importance of Third Places and place curation in Black and Brown communities

  • Attendees will learn about urban planning beyond a policy tool for change and ths importance to placemaking as a viable planning tool

  • Attendees will learn about New Urbanism as an additional model for designing functional places and spaces


Desiree Powell, Urban Planner + Place Curator
Houston, Texas

Desiree “Dee” Powell is an Arlington, Texas native, where she graduated from the University of Texas at Arlington with her Bachelor’s in Interdisciplinary Studies and Masters in City & Regional Planning. She is currently an urban planner in Texas and an urban designer in her own urban planning/design firm, DRBTS (Do Right By The Streets), which focuses on place keeping as a tool to implement temporary-to-permanent space activation projects in communities of color. Desiree centers her work from her lived experiences as a Black woman along with the impacts of music, streetwear, and sports. Desiree is currently the Program Coordinator for the Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU).