Can Architectural Art Model & Inspire Urban Ecotopian Design?

Can Architectural Art Model & Inspire Urban Ecotopian Design?

United States
< $1,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

We may not be able to redesign a city with $10,000, but we can inspire people to work towards and believe in the possibility, beauty, & need of doing so.
We propose creating habitable models that inspire and educate about innovative sustainable possibilities. Our models are not new homes, but works of art. We will create an ecotopian architectural ‘installation’ that will exhibit different facets of green living within an art piece that dares to push visitors to recognize that change is possible.
We will build the off-grid structures in Denver for the next Biennial of the Americas where we will host events & demonstrate green housing alternatives. It will be primarily designed, built and curated by sustainability activists of color, showcasing the many faces of "green."

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

This project will impact multiple communities. It provides opportunities for people of color and low-income families to engage with urban sustainability. We will also engage city planners, activists, neighbors, farmers & builders. In creating a public inspiration, it is important for us to bring in people who are not signed on to "green," (including youth), while inspiring those already working towards sustainability. Because the project will coincide with the Biennial of the Americas, we will have the unique opportunity to impact people from around the world. Because we hope to benefit children and elders, we will design whole life-cycle structures and activities into the site.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

1. Auspices of Art The promotion of sustainable affordable housing has often landed on deaf ears. Just a few years ago, most policy-makers & builders scoffed at the idea. Even to the public, the idea seemed like a visionary exercise rather than a tangible goal. What if we could generate the necessary dialogue under the auspices of art? What if people came to see an off-grid home with a live roof and mosaics because it was a unique work of art in their city (not because of their commitment to green building)? 2. Hardware vs Software Green buildings are like the "hardware" of sustainable communities…But what is the “software?” What cultural practices will encourage more sustainable living? Within these arts environments, people will participate in developing a more ecologically-conscious, socially integrated way of life. They will participate in and help design the “software,” or cultural and social technologies needed for sustainable development. Imagine slam poetry one night, and an urban planning round-table the next. Imagine natural dying classes one day, and an affordable housing symposium or hip-hop celebration the next, all of which include tours of the space and an explanation of the model at its core. The model demonstrates potentials for housing and zoning, but also acts as a community space. The model and events also highlight and inspire the contributions of people of color to the ecological movement.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

The project's success is measured in part by the number of guests who visit the site. We will of course, measure the project's impact on the guests and how they view their experiences there. We seek to know how familiar they were with green building practices in Colorado before coming and how that may have changed after experiencing the site. With the help of social scientists, we will develop a survey that helps gather much of that information. We will also gauge the diversity of our guests. This will include ethnicity, nationality, economic status, education & age. Because we are working with the idea that sustainable urban housing involves the "hardware" along with the "software," many aspects of the project will be more subjective and dependent on the type of activity and engagement participants have with the site. We will also want to know if people's definitions and ideas of sustainability have expanded towards a more holistic understanding. The project will be especially successful if we can prove affordability, feasibility, and sustainability. We will need to document costs, in terms of money and time. We will need to document the structure's integrity. We will also need to prove its energy efficiency low environmental impact. Lastly, we hope to have and/or create media coverage that features the project, both drawing people to it, and educating those who were unable to experience it firsthand. The documentation of the project will be made replicable.
About You
The Once and Future Green
About You
First Name

Michelle and Ramon

Last Name


About Your Organization
Organization Name

The Once and Future Green

Organization Phone


Organization Address

2855 Rock Creek Cir #235 Superior CO 80027

Organization Country
Country where this project is creating social impact

, CO

How long has your organization been operating?

Less than a year

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What stage is your project in?

Idea phase

Share the story of the founder and what inspired the founder to start this project

Michelle first proposed the idea of building sustainable affordable housing with affordable housing activists and a city councilwoman 10 years ago. It stopped the room. The councilwoman made it clear that that would never happen, & the activists told her to never bring up the idea again. Marrying sustainability to affordable housing was clearly too "far-fetched".
In 2002, Michelle & Ramon tried to convince their local city & housing authority to make the next affordable housing project non-profit and sustainable. The city challenged them to start a non-profit that could build the units. So they did. They called it CASAS-Community Action for Sustainable & Affordable Solutions.
As lovers of art, Ramon & Michelle have hosted numerous open-mics and now host the Skwalker Artivist Meetup in Denver. The meetup brings together artist activists to share their work, vision & inspiration with the community.
Recently, Michelle met a senator in Denver who wanted to build a sustainable home in line with his values. He was dismayed by zoning that kept him from building the home of his dreams. City planning should not hinder sustainability. This project would help bring together city planners with people like him and the neighbors who need affordable housing to dialogue safe solutions.
As committed sustainability "artivists", Ramon & Michelle feel human diversity is as important as biodiversity. They bring together different cultural communities & communities of practice in order to bring unique solutions to the world. This project is born from and will be a location for this work.

Social Impact
How many people have been impacted by your project?

How many people could be impacted by your project in the next three years?


What barriers might hinder the success of your project and how do you plan to overcome them?

The success of this plan depends on securing a location and developing good relationships with the City of Denver. It may very well be a fine dance to meet code standards within the city while trying to maintain the more cutting-edge nature of this proposal. Many cities have zoning that is prohibitive to holistically sustainable structures, but due to the artistic and possible temporary nature of the project, they may be more open to the idea. We hope to get them excited about the attraction that the project could provide, especially as Denver & Colorado try to establish themselves as innovative green leaders.
We hope to leverage the progressive community, the arts community, the coming Biennial of the Americas, and Ashoka's backing to help rouse support of the project.

How will your project evolve over the next three years?

The possible evolutions of this project include it's export to other cities and regions. This could include an actual structure, or it could be the inspiration of our process and approach.
Its concurrence with the Biennial of the Americas gives us hope that while the initial model is being carried out in the US, it may be something that can take hold in another region of the Americas & beyond. It may be more readily adaptable to cities or regions outside of Denver even though the ideas was birthed here.
If the structure is allowed to remain permanent, it could serve as a long-term classroom, research site, and public sculpture.

For each selection, please explain the financial and non-financial support from each

Because we have not established this project as a long-term entity, we do not yet have guaranteed support from any entities aside from friends, families, and colleagues. We will garner that support as the project moves forward and we move closer to the project completion time.
We have a good relationship with and are confident that we will partner:
The Growhaus- Denver's only indoor farm serving low-income communities
Sisters of Color United for Education
Green Leaf- They employ youth to reclaim abandoned lots with gardens
Cafe Nuba

We hope to collaborate with:
Greenprint Denver- The city's sustainable urban planning office
Denver Department of Human Services
Community Re-entry Project- serves ex-felons
Denver Planning Home
University of Colorado Denver- especially with their Master of Urban & Regional Planning Department
Denver Botanic Gardens- Recently hosted Live Roof event
Denver Art Museum
Denver Urban Gardens

How do you plan to grow and/or diversify your base of support in the next three years?

A large part of this sustainable, just, urban housing arts project is about the process of documentation that can be utilized in a series of presentations and popular education materials.
The project itself along with these materials will help expand our network of support and relationships.
As we move forward, the project and the materials that stem from it could be utilized as part of a social entrepreneur project.

Please select your areas of intervention in the home improvement market

Design, Green housing, Environment, Income generation, Urban development, Citizen/community participation, Public policy.

Is your innovation addressing barriers in the home improvement/progressive housing market? If so, please describe in detail your mechanisms of intervention
Are you currently collaborating with private companies, or have you partnered with private companies in the past? With which companies?

Not currently.

Please describe in detail the nature of the partnership(s)
Select the unit(s) with which the partnership was formed