Austin Design Week’s Commitment to Building an Inclusive, Anti-racist Community
Our values have always been based on the need for inclusion, to hear from diverse voices, and design for a better tomorrow. We are a platform for community dialogue and so we are also a reflection of our community’s values. As our community responds to the killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Michael Ramos, and too many others, we need to do our part and take active steps to not just build an inclusive community, but also an anti-racist one. We need to hold ourselves accountable to our values, embed diversity into every part of our work, and actively support and fight for the Black community. In short, we need to do better.
Here are some of the immediate & long-term commitments we are making. This list is by no means exhaustive. We will continue to re-evaluate our commitments and add to them.
We also want to hear from you, our community. If you think something is missing, or have any feedback for us, please reach out directly to firstname.lastname@example.org. Your message will go directly to ADW’s lead organizers & founders.
Thank you for being part of the Austin Design community.
Here are some immediate actions we’ll be taking:
Share resources with our community
We published a blog post curating existing resources on how to support Black creatives and how to take action to fight institutional racism, starting with education. We will continue to update this with new resources and share those resources out on social media.
Highlight Black designers and the work of antiracist activists through our social media
Our goal with our social media accounts has always been to elevate the work of designers and design organizations in Austin. We will be using our platform to highlight Black designers and amplify antiracism resources. We are committing to make a regular part of our social media feed in the long term and this is something we can start immediately. In all of our design features, highlighting a diverse group of voices will be a priority. We know social media isn’t going to solve the problems we face today, but we do believe we can use our platform to help educate our community and promote the work of Black designers.
Expand our outreach for our Call for Proposals
Our call for proposals will go live next week and we want to make sure we are getting input from as many voices as possible. We will be researching groups to share the proposal announcement with and will do personal outreach to groups we have not previously reached to encourage them to participate. We will also be explicit that we are looking to hear from a diverse group of voices. We will also start collecting demographic data of proposers and hosts. This will not be used during the selection process of events, but will be used internally to measure the diversity of our event line up. Once we measure this, we can then set goals and take action to make sure ADW events are hosted by as diverse a group as possible.
Austin Design Week is a volunteer-run non-profit. Last year, we started collecting fees from hosts to contribute to the operating costs of ADW. (Note: these fees are on a sliding scale and we have a very generous scholarship program). We expect to be a mostly virtual conference this year, and with lower operating costs, we will donate 25% of this year’s hosting fee to an organization working to fight against institutional racism. We will be working with our black community to identify the organization to which we’ll donate.
Resources to hosts
Leading up to Austin Design Week, we will share readings and resources with our hosts and volunteers on anti-racism and unconscious bias.
Here are some steps we will be taking to embed this work into our organization in the longer term:
Build relationships with the community
It’s always been critical to Austin Design Week’s work to partner with community organizations to make sure they are part of the fabric of our work. We want to expand our relationships to include community groups working in activism, to end institutional racism, and working with specific communities often oppressed in Austin, including the Black community.
Diversify our organizing team
We need to make sure that our organizers and week-of volunteers are as diverse as our community. We will be working on a volunteer team recruiting process that can make sure we are talking to a more diverse group of people about getting involved with ADW.
Audit and make an action plan
Over the past couple of years, we have collected attendee demographic data. We will audit this data to understand the makeup of our audience and how that has changed over time. We will then use this information to set goals, make a plan, and take action to ensure our community is as diverse as the city we represent.
Put more accountability into place
We want to make sure ADW as an organization is accountable to our vision and the promises we make. We are exploring a DEI position on our organizing team or a committee who can help us access our practices and put accountability check points into place. We will also be revisiting our Code of Conduct to ensure its promoting anti racist behavior by everyone involved in Austin Design Week.