Betsy del Monte
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Betsy del Monte
FAIA

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Citylab High School: That’s the Texas Spirit

Texas has always gone its own way.

An extensive article exploring equity and justice in architecture was published in the Justice issue of Columns magazine. The following provides a continuation of that conversation.

So in Texas, equity in architecture needs to address the issues important in Texas. This means we can craft our own approach to creating equity. The key is for architects working in the profession to reach back to help those coming along behind. This is true for partners mentoring interns all the way to interns talking to high school and middle school kids.

In Dallas, the 3-year-old CityLab High School is exposing a diverse group of high school students to architecture. The school’s mission is to create opportunities for students to become the next generation of citizens, design professionals, and civic leaders equipped with an understanding of the urban environment.

They give students the knowledge and skills  to participate in  designing  and  building  the  built environment. Because CityLab is a Choice School, it offers the same rigorous academics as the Dallas school district’s magnet schools, but draws 50% of its students from low-income households and 50% from middle- and high- income households.

Texans  are  accustomed  to  stereotypes  — we all ride horses to work and wear cowboy hats, right? Stereotypes are just stories we tell about certain groups to categorize that group in shorthand. They are powerful because the stories we tell about ourselves or others shape how we see the world and how the world sees us. But they are only stories, and we can rewrite them.