Growing Community with Design

[Update: May 7, 2015]

Thanks to you, we reached our goal! Because of your support, students are working with community partners to build sheds, seating, signage, greenhouses, murals, and accessibility ramps in local community gardens.

We’ll be sure to keep you updated as our students work on these projects through the summer.

Thanks for all you do,


Tom Fisher

Professor and Dean

College of Design


In the Aurora and St. Anthony neighborhoods in St. Paul, students from James Wheeler‘s Community Design Practice class are sweeping, raking, and preparing the Sanctuary Peace Garden for planting. In the classroom, they’re designing garden expansions, educational murals, tool sheds, and a greenhouse. And they’re loving every minute of it. According to Evan Hildebrand (Architecture), “we as designers have a responsibility to society and the people who live and interact with the spaces and things that we create.”

As we near the end of the semester, they need your help. To fully realize their plans, we’re raising $5,000 by April 24.


Last year, Community Design Practice students built a shed for a gardening tool lending library, freeing up neighborhood funds for plants and educational programming. Before breaking ground, this year’s class is reinforcing community relationships and learning to listen. “The garden is very different that the other architecture projects I’ve worked on – taking into account what the people in the community need is the most important,” said Rosemarie Gregoire (Architecture). “It gives us the challenge of putting other people’s needs before our design interests.”

Your gift will help purchase materials for spaces where the community can grow food, teach kids, and share resources. Join your fellow alumni and friends and support socially responsible design today.


The project puts the design process in local context, helping students develop skills to make a difference after graduation. And it gives them a chance to get their hands dirty and contribute to the growth of a real community. “It’s not a project that somebody made up, with false parameters – the garden is real, the constraints are real, the budget is real. It’s difficult but it’s also rewarding,” Alli Mertins (Architecture) explained. “The partners have come into review our work and it’s encouraging to see how much enthusiasm they have for the project in real life, instead of something theoretical that will probably never happen.”

Growing Community with Design gives students hands-on sustainable design experiences and builds resilient neighborhoods.

Will you help students improve the world one neighborhood at a time? Give today.