Involvement, service, and outreach are words often paired with the term community, but the impacts of such works transcend any singular contribution or participation. The strength of such works rests in the hands in which they are given. Whether one decides to employ the phrase “community involvement”, “community service”, or “community outreach”, what remains constant and ever present is the community. The community is the entity which holds the power to uphold, append, transform, and renew. A community, simply defined, is a conglomeration of individuals sharing common vicinity, government, culture, history, religion, occupation, traits, and/or interests. It is the bond of these individuals within these groups which fuel the force behind any community. Architecture is able and has touched each and every definition of community in existence and will come in contact with them several times over.
However, it is not the service which architects and designers render which gives a community power, as a community is inherently imbued with its own force. Why then, is community involvement so important? The answer rests in the power that communities have to impact all of its constituents, the surrounding landscape and the larger community. A vital part of community involvement is to empower the entity to have better knowledge in their decision making and implementations. While the power is inherent in the community, architects and designers are able to fortify the actions of that community with engagement. Organizations frequently engage in community activities to impact and improve standards by way of the community’s influence. In this same manner, local organizations such as AIA, and NOMA, alongside several colleges and universities interact with various communities to do just that. The importance of community involvement is to help the power of community make a positive impact.
NOMA Atlanta takes great pride in community engagement to serve as a champion for minority communities and minorities within communities. NOMA Atlanta’s president, Sophia Tarkhan, provided insight to why the organization sees the Power of Community as such an important element to strengthen, with its engagement
“If you want to do anything that will pass beyond your life time you must give. Architecture is about the community; the way we live, work and play together. We at NOMAtlanta consider Community service essential to our mission. We give by contributing our inspiration, inventiveness and influence. We give to be a catalyst to young creative minds in pursuit of their lifelong passion. We give to develop young professionals as a way of facilitating the fulfillment of their purpose. We advocate for the equitable community development. We advocate for an inclusive design profession. We serve as protectors for the marginalized citizen of Atlanta. In essence our community service is focused on growth and advocacy, both vitally important to the development of a healthy community.”
Community serves as one of the most influential building blocks in architecture. Architects serve he community by way of practice, but when services are rendered for the betterment of society through outreach, it builds upon the power of that consortium. The ‘Power of Community’ builds to actively and positively impact society, the landscape, and the future. Architectural outreach to each and every community is vital for this very reason alone. The profession cannot sit idly by while the ingenuity that radiates out from the tips of our fineliner pens can do much needed good. I encourage you to engage, serve and practice active involvement within our communities, so they too may thrive.
— RALPH RAYMOND