By Andrea Orlando

Community Director

The National Consortium for Creative Placemaking

Haadi Mohamed knows what it's like to grow up in a low-income immigrant community and organize emerging artists and other peers to realize a community vision.

Mohamed was raised in a Somali refugee family, and he is involved with the City Heights Community Development Corporation in San Diego, California. He's also one of our 2019 Pacific Creative Placemaking Leadership Summit Scholars. He and City Heights CDC Leadership Development Manager, Anastasia Brewster, will teach a session at the event, which is coming up in Los Angeles June 20-22.

Brewster also received a scholarship, and the two will help teach a seminar entitled, "A New Vision for Community Empowerment." The breakout session will deal with lessons learned at the CHCDC through designing community processes that build community engagement and a sense of stewardship. They’ll talk about how to sustain lasting change by centering the know-how of marginalized communities of color to curate a process that elevates the existing cultural assets of the community. They'll also discuss how they have addressed policy-makers’ and funders’ blindspots that can interfere with projects that are genuinely community driven. Also involved in the seminar are moderator Monique Lopez of Pueblo Planning, and Barry Pollard of the Urban Collaborative Project.

Mohamad coordinated a 250 degree community-visioned and -built mural in 2019 in partnership with the Somali community in the City Heights section of San Diego, as part of the implementation of an outdoor placemaking project called the 50th Street Gathering Space. It was his first public art project. In March of this year, he competed another mural project in Phoenix, Arizona at a Somali Community Center.

Brewster is Leadership Development Manager for the CHCDC and believes that community-driven placemaking can be an act of resistance and place-keeping in the face of the housing crisis that is erasing cultural assets from low-income communities. San Diego is home to Chicano Park that is nearing its 50th anniversary next year, she wrote in her application. The surrounding neighborhood has withstood some of the pressures of being located just outside downtown and a major-league sports venue. Residents worry about imminent displacement of low-income small businesses and tenants.

As of Wednesday, June 5, the National Consortium for Creative Placemaking, which is producing the Summit with ArtPlace America and the Levitt Foundation, still had some partial scholarships to award to artists, community developers, students and others who would like to attend the three-day gathering. Those interested should send an e-mail to with a brief statement that describes their interest and goals.

NCCP thanks the following sponsors: The Education Foundation of America, The Cultural Planning Group, McClure, the City of Los Angeles, Department of Cultural Affairs, the California Endowment, the James Irvine Foundation, and the Annenberg Foundation.

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