Nadine Rios-Rivas, a Project Coordinator at 7GAE, had the recent opportunity to present at the NOMA National Conference held in Detroit to honor the 50th anniversary of the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA). Nadine spoke virtually along with Hayward Babineaux of Byce & Associates.
The title of their presentation was “Imagine Kalamazoo: 2025,” and it was included as part of NOMA’s community and justice track focused on public and civic projects that benefit communities through social and environmental justice and social responsibility. In their presentation, Nadine and Hayward discussed their roles in Imagine Kalamazoo, a master-planning effort led by the City of Kalamazoo that aims to actively engage the community through open houses, online surveys, and community events. Through these community organization-led events, and even at times stepping back and allowing conversations to take place organically without the City of Kalamazoo in attendance, it was possible to collect authentic feedback. These kinds of efforts will contribute to a shared vision for the future of Kalamazoo, Michigan, that recognizes the value of diversity.
Nadine and Hayward used the principles of Imagine Kalamazoo and created a presentation that could apply to master planning efforts and community engagement plans in any city or neighborhood. By looking closely at the Public Participation Plan and the Community Engagement Toolkit, Nadine and Hayward provided guidance and recommendations for architects, designers, and master planning teams leading similar master planning efforts for community development. These efforts can improve the quality of life for all those who work, live, and play in Kalamazoo and in countless other communities. NOMA attendees who participated in “Imagine Kalamazoo: 2025” were eligible to receive continuing education credits (Learning Units) through the AIA.
NOMA is a volunteer-led organization that was created 50 years ago to minimize the effect of racism in the architecture industry. Their mission is to “empower local chapters and membership to foster justice and equity in communities of color through outreach, community advocacy, professional development, and design excellence.” Seven Generations Architecture + Engineering is honored that our own Project Coordinator Nadine Rios-Rivas was invited to speak at their National Conference and share a little about the work we are doing in Michigan and beyond.