DSI Reflecting on Summer 2022’s Community Design for Leaders Course

Monday, May 9th 2022


The DSI community is so proud of our class of 2022! On Monday, May 9th, we held a memorable show at the SVA Theatre in the heart of Chelsea. It was an amazing celebration of our resilient graduating cohort’s hard work and dedication to making change within their communities and the world.

This year’s projects centered around sustainable coffee culture (Kehan Zhang), reducing plastics via the use of biomaterials (Ruike Pan), intersectional community-centered design practices for healing (Jenny Lin), storytelling with second-generation Asian immigrants (Neil Jia), empowering women and gender nonconforming folks to have agency in their health and wellness (Dori Jacobson), centering youth as decision makers in creating joyful schools and learning spaces (Mickey Ferrera), and creating an intergenerational healing collective for South Asian-American immigrant women (Zahra Bukhari).

The livestream is available to view on our Youtube now, and process papers will be uploaded in the coming weeks.


Sultana’s Dreamers

Zahra Bukhari

PDF + Watch Presentation

Sultana’s Dreamers are a creative healing collective co-created by Mala, Sumra, Sanobar, Ifrah and Zahra– all of whom are South Asian-American daughters of immigrants. Empowered by the short story, Sultana’s Dream by Begum Rokeya, we gathered in virtual community to reimagine a future inspired by the women in our past. In strengthening our creative, cultural intuition to gather, tell stories, and make, we began the work of intergenerational healing as daughters and as ancestors.

Mickey Ferrara

PDF + Watch Presentation is a space to center the joy, possibility and imagination in re-designing what classrooms and educational spaces across New York City could look like. This work is an altar to youth-led movements and freedom fighters across space and time, the young people who guide us as ancestors and the young people rising up today for the spaces they want and need, right now.



Dori Jacobson

PDF + Watch Presentation

Sonder: noun. The realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own. This thesis uplifts the shared experience of being in a women’s body and aims to hold space for the community and conversations that need to exist in order for individual healing to be done.


No one is an island

Neil Jia

PDF + Watch Presentation

“No one is an island” is a Storytelling project centered on the Asian immigrant community to connect people facing similar challenges with one another.


Personal Practice in Community-Centered Design

Jenny Lin

PDF + Watch Presentation

“Yes, And: A Personal Practice in Community-Centered Design” is an introspective examination of the designer’s role when working within traditional institutions of power, particularly city government. If designers are facilitators of process, how do their own practices of equity, justice, and liberation show up to ultimately shape or shift our systems (of oppression)? How can we ensure that our communities are thoughtfully approached, meaningfully engaged, and actually benefit from the work? By investigating the tensions between institutional and community-based practice, designers can use this reflective series of prompts to strengthen and shift their work to create more desirable processes, and thereby futures.



Ruike Pan

PDF + Watch Presentation

The best approaches are already designed by nature. This project aims to explore the natural power of biomaterials–especially mycelium–to heal our ecology broken by plastic waste.



Kehan Zhang

PDF + Watch Presentation

NYC ECOFFEE is a collaborative guide that aims to increase the number and use of sustainable coffee shops in NYC by guiding customers and coffee shop owners to recognize the connection between coffee culture and nature.

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