• Hudson Hill’s Rich History, Issues, and Hopes for the Future

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    By Chris Tsuyuki

    We’ve been honored to be meeting with community leaders and residents in Hudson Hill over the last 5 weeks, and we’re happy to share a little of what we’ve learned about the neighborhood. In the coming weeks we’ll share more about the work we’re doing with them directly, but a general overview is a great place to start.

    Hudson Hill’s largest population is residents 34 years old and younger and its most activated and engaged population is their cherished Golden Age. Over 80% of Hudson Hill residents are African American. And low-income households (households earning 50% or below the median income) make up more than half of the community. Faith provides an anchor for the community and residents band together like family. Despite its issues, the Hudson Hill community remains resilient, engaged and committed.


    GULLAH GEECHEE HERITAGE

    Hudson Hill carries with it a rich history that is both local and global. The original Hudson Hill settlers were descendants of Central and West African slaves. They celebrated and preserved their cultures in the blended creole language of Gullah, spoken among slave populations in coastal Georgia and South Carolina who were known collectively as the Gullah/Geechee.

    The Gullah/Geechee wove cast nets for catching shrimp and harvesting oysters and sweetgrass baskets. They paid homage to their roots through combining African textile traditions with European quilting methods and their Gullah music. Their diet and cuisine combined local produce, seafood, game and livestock with African and Native American food.


    The predecessors of Hudson Hill remained along the coasts and in the barrier islands where they had been enslaved and purchased the land after plantation owners abandoned it during the Civil War. The community of Hudson Hill grew in relative isolation until it was annexed by Savannah in 1939.

    HISTORIC SNAPSHOT

    Previously boasting a significant population of whites and small population of Native Americans, Hudson Hill experienced a swift demographics shift during the Civil Rights era. The “white flight” phenomenon impacted Hudson Hill as white people took their businesses and wealth with them.

    Until the 1960s, Hudson Hill remained largely rural with chicken coops, hog pens and gardens around the neighborhood. In recent decades, the soil has become untenable and local agriculture has disappeared. It wasn’t until the early 1980s that paved roads and sidewalks began to appear, and Hudson Hill has experienced sporadic distribution of municipal services.

    CHALLENGES

    Walkability is low due to a lack of sidewalks. Public transportation is limited as Hudson Hill is only served by the Chatham Area Transit Route 3B bus. Only two of the seven bus stops offer any form of amenities such as a bench or shelter. CAT states it has no plans to improve the route, citing low ridership and no sidewalks.

    Hudson Hill also suffers from a lack of food access, as there are no grocery stores and only one takeout restaurant and one seafood market. Yet, eight businesses have liquor licenses, which represents a growing concern for residents.

  • Hello Harambe House!

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    By Kyle Parrapato

    Welcome to Design Management 740: Sustainable Practices in Design! We’re very excited to be a part of the revival collaboration between SCAD Design for Sustainability and Savannah’s own Harambee House. Harambee, translating loosely to ‘working together, pulling together helping each other, caring and sharing,’ is a local not-for-profit who identify themselves as ‘citizens for environmental justice.’

    Environmental justice, a term coined by the EPA in the early 1980s, refers to ‘the fair distribution of environmental benefits and burdens among all members of society.’ Harambee House works to ensure environmental equity and equality for Savannah’s underprivileged populations, most of whom are predominantly African American and are highly susceptible to ongoing gentrification and development.

    Taking direction from Harambee House’s own dynamo-in-chief, Dr. Mildred McClain, we are forming a collaboration with the residents of Hudson Hill, a prominent neighborhood of West Savannah with a deep and extensive cultural history. Like many neighborhoods in this area, the citizens of Hudson Hill have been exposed to many of these undesirable experiences. Traditionally many cities have focused on strategies for economic growth and Savannah’s main focus lies in the development of its port: A port conveniently located adjacent to Hudson Hill.

    In 2018, the EPA facilitated a pilot program to help Near Port Communities in Savannah address issues of environmental justice by bringing different stakeholders such as the City of Savannah, local industry, the near port communities of Hudson Hill & Woodville and the Georgia Port Authority together to formulate a working solution. The result was an eighteen-month initiative that led to the creation of the Savannah Air Quality Action Plan, a toolkit developed for the empowerment of the local residents. Despite these efforts and it’s resulting successes this initiative left many complex issues unanswered, leaving an opportunity space for further collaboration. An opportunity we intend to build from the ground up in direct conjunction the residents of Hudson Hill.

    Meet the Team

    Wan Ching // Taipei, Taiwan
    Major:
    MFA, Design for Sustainability, with a concentration in Management
    Why are you interested in this project?
    - To understand what environmental justice and injustice is.
    - To reflect on what privileges I have, especially those I was unaware of before.
    - To be immersed more practically and consciously in the fact of complexity of issues, and plan for tackling them.
    - To understand more about Savannah in social, economical and environmental aspects together as a system, and have those relationships in mind.
    - To find out the initiatives and potentials of changes that could be experienced by a community that has suffered under injustice, and I can also contribute to some change with them together.

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    Chris Tsuyuki // Los Angeles, CA
    Major:
    MFA, Service Design
    Why are you interested in this project?
    I believe that the role of the designer is not simply to give a voice to the voiceless, but rather to pass the mic. I am passionate about working at the intersection of race and other lived experiences such as gender, education, class, sexual orientation, age and ability.

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    Yu-Chu Chen //  Taipei, Taiwan
    Majors:
    MA, Design for Sustainability and MA Industrial Design
    Why are you interested in this project?
    To see how design thinking can help solve wicked problems and enhance environmental justice, especially with complex context.

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    Jordanna Coutinho // Bangalore, India
    Majors:
    MA, Design for Sustainability
    Why are you interested in this project?
    I believe our local systems, much like our global system is in a state of crisis. There is designed disconnect between individual and collective concern that is hindering the well being of communities and as a result the well being of our planet. I believe what now stands to be raw, vulnerable and exposed communities, cracks in an inequitably designed system might actually be the key to resilience and nourishment of our fragile planet. In short, strengthening our local ecosystems is the foundation upon which we can start conversations about the future and that is where I see my role as a designer.

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    Alisha Saxena // Dehradun, India
    Majors:
    MFA, Design for Sustainability
    Why are you interested in this project?
    I believe the way communities work towards their development, further leads to the way they respond to their surrounding environment. Understanding the practices of communities can help us direct their way towards a more sustainable and efficient way of living.

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    Srishti Jain  // New Delhi, India
    Majors:
    MFA, Graphic Design and Visual Experience
    Why are you interested in this project?
    I believe that design is just not for privileged but also has the ability to empower the underprivileged. I am passionate about people and I believe a designer should be an initiator of meaningful social initiatives and start thinking about creating sustainable and resilient future solutions. I am taking this class so that I can sharpen and strengthen my skills as a designer and help the community in the best possible way.

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    Haleemah Sadiah   // Bangalore, India
    MFA, Design for Sustainability, with a concentration in Management.
    Why are you interested in this project?

    I’m excited to see the use of design to address the complex socio-cultural, environmental and economical aspects of our local systems. I believe that an approach to design which facilitates conversations between all stakeholders can lead to the discovery of effective responsible solutions that raise the well being of communities and their resilience.

  • Desiging through Uncertainty

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    By Mary Rhodes

    We entered this quarter with a lot of uncertainty. As a class we didn’t’ know each other very well and for the project we only knew who our champion was – Emergent Structures, along with a few general goals that each class before us had. We were presented with the challenge to design and collaborate with a focused community in Savannah, to follow existing energies before creating new and, one of the most important, to design solutions that will outlast our presence. The initiatives we’ve forwarded in this class all require a next level of agreement from the parters involved before they can be publicized further, sot there’s just a peek of them here now.

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  • Saturday in the Yard

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    By Ivonne Zuniga

    Last Saturday, March second, Emergent Structures hosted an event called ‘Saturday at the Yard’. During this beautiful sunny 74 degrees day, multiple volunteers came together with family and friends to show support and be a part of the conversation concerning reclaimed materials.

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  • SHAPE SAVANNAH: A Reclaimed Material Competition

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    By Ivonne Zuniga

    During the research process of our project we have encountered some repetitive insights; people don’t know the value of reclaimed materials; artists are afraid of handling them; and the value of Savannah is rarely communicated through the souvenirs that the stores sell. Based on this information we decided to develop a competition, challenging each of these aspects. Our goal was to prototype what can become an annual competition. But mostly we were very curious to see what amazing ideas our participant would come up with.

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  • Doing Good with Wood

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    By Xiaotong Du

    Nowadays, it’s common for us to notice that people are surrounded by artificial objects. We play video games or connect with friends through computers and mobile phones on a daily basis. We tend to be intuitive to touch the man-made high-tech products with confidence.

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  • Co-Creating Solutions

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    By Jee Eun Lee

    On January 31st, our class invited five stakeholders of Savannah’s material reclamation and maker communities to present to them insights from our secondary and primary research. We previously met and interviewed each of them individually (and many others) so this was our opportunity to meet as a group and listen to their opinions, thoughts and ideas about our insights.

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  • Is Community Based in Geographic Location?

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    By Mary Rodes, Rina Strydom, and Ivonne Zuniga

    If you look for the word community in a dictionary, the main two definitions that pop are:

    • A group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common.
    • A feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.

    Community has been a key word in our project, mentioned many times in the group meetings, however, recently the question arose: What kind of community are we talking about?

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  • Every Nail Counts

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    By Ivonne Zuniga

    As a part of our research before starting this new project, the team and I joined this quarter’s ‘community champion’ Emergent Structures at the Lumberyard, a property that soon will be donated to them, for an afternoon of manual work. The work was mostly about de nailing the pieces of wood that they recover from past deconstructions.

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  • Midtown’s PopUp and Block Party

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    By Chari Sathyanarayanan

    To reach a happy ending everything has to start with a good beginning. And good beginnings can sprout up everywhere. Our final solutions for this quarter aimed at helping the community in Midtown celebrate a new beginning of neighborliness.

    Our work in helping build a resilient midtown community led to 10 different concepts that were shared with the community over the last several weeks, which led the community especially excited about 3 solutions. The continuous interactions with the Midtown residents and the new Midtown neighborhood association acted as a catalyst for a block party initiative to emerge. So, we considered how the block party—which was beautifully planned by the newly minted neighborhood association—could provide a platform for our final  concepts. Our class split into 3 subteams and worked to implement each of these three concepts.

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