Reclaiming SPACES & PLACES

A Virtual Convening with BlackSpace & NextCity | Aug. 6-7

Reclaiming Spaces & Places will assemble urbanists and community leaders for a 2-day event of virtual learning and exchange. 


Spaces and Places, born of the necessity to be acknowledged within the built environment, has embarked on its most unique and ambitious convening since its conception. Now in its fourth year, the annual grassroots (un)conference was hosted digitally in partnership with BlackSpace and Next City. This year’s theme, titled Reclaiming, aimed to position BIPOC urbanists, designers, and activists as defiant catalysts for liberation and equity.


The SESSION on Day 1 brought together speakers and a moderator for a panel presentation, and the WORKSHOP on Day 2 will brought together participants for dialogue and conversation. Both are organized around the following topics:


  • Reclaiming Our History: Reckoning with Our Past to Build Our Future

  • Reclaiming Our Present: Protect and Strengthen Culture

  • Reclaiming Our Future: Manifest the Future


Day 2 included virtual networking at a HAPPY HOUR brought to us by BlackSpace.


At Spaces and Places, we highlight innovative people and projects that exemplify the spirit of reclamation but also encourage our attendees—and our communities—to reflect on the reclamation of space in their own lives, to build and maintain relationships with others, and to commit to developing and implementing their own innovative solutions. Our intention is that the time is engaging, interactive, and generative. This charge is not intended to be reactionary or an inflection point as the work toward liberation and freedom is an ongoing effort, but a call to action. It is a demand for a better version of our society, one that is fair, equitable, and just.



Dr. Andrea Roberts


Dr. Andrea Roberts is an Assistant Professor of Urban Planning and an Associate Director of the Center for Housing & Urban Development at Texas A&M University. She is also the founder of The Texas Freedom Colonies Project, a research & social justice initiative documenting placemaking history and grassroots preservation practices in the African Diaspora. Dr. Roberts brings more than a decade of experience in community and economic development to her scholarship. As a planning historian, theorist, critical heritage scholar, and educator, Roberts trains future planners and preservationists to move marginalized communities’ histories, ontologies of place, methods, and agendas from the edge to the center of practice and policymaking. Her work detects effective, culturally-based planning and preservation practices in historic African American communities, especially those with constituencies and locations, which are difficult to identify. Transdisciplinary in nature, her research works with critical theories of development, planning, human geography, gender and diaspora studies to detect opportunities for bridging grassroots and formal planning in service of historic African American communities. She uses participatory action and engaged ethnographic research methodologies and embraces a variety of knowledge forms such as rituals, annual celebrations, and music. The context in which she is currently working is endangered historic black settlements and towns in Texas called freedom colonies, both on-site and virtually on digital humanities platforms.

Dr. Roberts has written peer-reviewed articles on African American placemaking history and practice, digital engagement, black feminist planning history, intersectionality, and preservation policy. The Vernacular Architecture Forum recently awarded her a 2020 Bishir Prize for her article on black homestead preservation. She is currently writing a book about Black historic preservation practice to be published by University of Texas Press. The Urban Affairs Association recently recognized her Texas Freedom Colony Atlas & Study, a statewide countermapping and urban humanities project, with the 2019 Marilyn J. Gittell Activist Scholar Honorable Mention Award. Dr. Roberts is a 2019 recipient of a National Trust African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund grant and is a 2020 Whiting Public Engagement Fellow. She is also a 2020-21 Visiting Scholar at Yale’s Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition. Dr. Roberts earned a Ph.D. in community and regional planning at The University of Texas at Austin, holds an M.A. in government administration from the University of Pennsylvania, and a B.A. in political science from Vassar College.

June A. Grant, RA, NOMA



June A. Grant, RA, NOMA, is Founder and Design Principal at blink!LAB architecture; a boutique research-based architecture and urban design practice. Launched in 2014, Blink!LAB brings 20 years experience in architecture, design and urban regeneration of cities and communities. Ms. Grant’s approach rests on an avid belief in cultural empathy, data research and new technologies as integral to design futures and design solutions. 

blink!LAB has three mandates - A commitment to Design Exploration, Advocacy for Holistic Solutions and the Integration of Technology as a central component for a regenerative society.


Because we are designers committed to new forms of knowledge through making, we prefer to situate ourselves in the middle of catalytic design- where new challenges and emerging opportunities are addressed through multi-layered thinking and design.  Open and collaborative, Blink!LAB is a small multi-disciplinary design studio with projects bridging architectural form, urban economics, urban design, industrial design, furniture and digital fabrication towards the creation of regenerated communities.  


Ms. Grant is also the current President of the San Francisco Chapter of the National Organization of Minority Architects (SFNOMA); a twelve year-old organization where members include Architects, Interior Designers, Urban Planners, Landscape Architects, Policy Advocates and Activists implementing the SFNOMA mission: Design to Empower, Educate and foster Economic growth in under-served communities.

Mattice Haynes


Mattice Haynes is a Black, southern woman and mama, somatic abolitionist, and cultural worker who practices embodying love, truth and freedom in everything she does. She is a trusted coach, social entrepreneur, and master facilitator with twenty years of experience leading social transformation. Mattice is known for the care, integrity, curiosity, and piercing insight she brings when partnering with individuals and groups who desire to transform themselves in the service of our collective liberation.

As an anti-racism practitioner and gender and reproductive justice advocate based in Atlanta, GA, Mattice consistently challenges herself and others to name and shift the underlying power dynamics that fuel systemic oppression especially in the U.S. South. Since founding her consulting practice The Art of Community, LLC in 2007, she has worked with dozens of local and national clients to cultivate the conditions for Black people, people of color, and gender oppressed people to control and shape the future of their communities. Mattice is also the co-founder and curator of The Black mecca Project (TBmP) which launched in August 2019. TBmP is Atlanta’s Black Liberation Studio where creatives, healers, social entrepreneurs, and cultural workers are conjuring an Atlanta that is free of antiBlack racism, classism, and gender oppression.



A grassroots network of urban planners, policymakers, and designers formed in 2016 to amplify work on the issues affecting communities of color that are too often not fully recognized or addressed by professional urban planning and design communities. That effort, with the support of a committee of volunteers, the APA Housing and Community Development Division, WXY Studio, NextCity, and others, has resulted in a series of ‘unconference’ convenings held in conjunction with the American Planning Association’s National Planning Conference each year.


The first gathering in New York City in 2017, Spaces & Places of Protest: The Cost of Social Injustice in Communities of Color, featured a discussion on diversity in the urbanism fields, models for self-determination in planning and designing with communities of color, and a collaborative networking workshop to discuss the role of protest and change in America’s cities and regions. The Spaces & Places 2018: Community-Led Initiatives: Equity, Inclusion, Crisis—held in New Orleans—brought local and national leaders together to celebrate, catalyze and amplify initiatives led by and with communities of color across planning, design, and activism. Spaces & Places 2019: People. Power. Justice in Oakland brought local and national leaders together to celebrate, catalyze and amplify initiatives led by and with communities of color across planning, design, and activism. Each Spaces & Place event was offered for free and attracted over 100 attendees from the host cities as well as from across the United States and Canada.


You can learn more about the initiative in our Op-Ed in NextCity, “Spaces and Places of Our Own Making” and stay up-to-date on our work by joining our Facebook Group.



Spaces & Places 2020 Organizing Committee


Germane Barnes, University of Miami

Nicole H. Bennett, AICP, Cincar Consulting Group

Antoine Bryant, Moody Nolan & Houston Planning Commission

Aldea Coleman, North Carolina Department of Transportation

Amina Hassen, WXY Studio & BlackSpace

Natasha Hicks, Harvard University Kennedy School Innovation Lab

Ifeoma Ebo, NYC HPD & BlackSpace

Sonja Ewing, AICP, Prince George’s County Parks & Recreation

Amanda Miller, Hoffmann Architects

Justin G. Moore, AICP, NYC Public Design Commission & BlackSpace

Renee Skeete, PhD, Sapodilla Group

Donald Taylor-Patterson, U3 Advisors

Shannon Teasley, SRT Management




WXY Studio

APA Division of Housing and Community Development Division



Next City

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@2019 by Spaces & Places Organizing Committee