This just in from student applicants, Adrienne Harreveld and Mahsa Taskindoust from Duke!

We had a great time going into our community and compiling stories and profiles from diverse Durham residents. The community feedback has given us a great idea of what Duke University can offer Durham, North Carolina. The general consensus among the people we interviewed is that Durham is truly a “progressive” city, ready for our impact through multidisciplinary design. Here is a sneak peek into what we have compiled!

For their Part 1 Community Applications, the team has started collecting stories from local community members. Below are a couple of them!

Bryan, age 32, has lived in Durham his whole life where opened Ox and Rabbit, a soda fountain and eclectic retail shop with his wife. Before being Ox and Rabbit, the site was previously a Pharmacy that opened in 1919 that Bryan knew his whole life as an iconic Durham landmark. His experiences at the Pharmacy encouraged him to open his store and keep retail in Durham a reflection of the local community. His favorite part about Durham is the fact that it isn’t only a “college town.” Everywhere in Durham you see reflections of the city’s historic Tobacco industry and local flavor. Durham is a “progressive” city. In the past ten years it has embraced a total renaissance revitalizing its art and innovation and converting the historic tobacco warehouses into unique local shops. The fact that land and real estate is relatively cheap acts as a double edged sword; it makes land accessible to a lot of people, but even more appealing to big business and corporations. “Corporations don’t know Durham and only work for their best interests, not for the interests on the town I love.” In addition to corruptness of corporate infiltration, Bryan thinks the most pressing concern for Durham is poverty.

“A lot of the problems are linked to racism that still lingers here and keeps African Americans in a cycle of poverty.”

Bill & Linda: We stopped by Occupy Durham and found Bill and Linda, both retired state employees in their sixties who have lived in Durham for 41 years. They are occupying Durham for the right to collective bargain for state employees (state unions are outlawed in North Carolina). Being involved in civic engagement in Durham for over 30 years, they say their favorite part about Durham is how approachable local government is. “There are many opportunities for community forum, and city councilmen, even our US Representative have always been a phone call away” says Linda (good to know for future DFA projects!) When asked about the most pressing concern for Durham, Bill says “the Durham we know and love is the Durham before the train tracks.” Once you cross that boundary you see extreme cases of poverty and no growth or innovation.

“They are as much of a part of Durham as I am, but people seem to forget that.”

Pictured above is the three foot brick wall that surrounds Duke University. Although many Duke students are actively involved in local community service, a separation between Duke and the community still exists and is still very prevalent. Through the social innovation and efforts of Design for America, we hope to “break the wall” that disconnects us from the thriving and developing community of Durham.

Look forward to seeing more from Duke’s application as Part 1 deadline soon approaches!! Applications to start your own DFA studio are currently open–> register here!