Urban Fabrick at Living Future unConference 2017

Living Future unConference 2017 in Seattle

Three weeks ago, Urban Fabrick CEO Wolfgang Werner and Project Manager Colleen FitzSimons traveled to Seattle for the Living Future unConference 2017 (LF17). In addition to a range of programs on biomimicry, water, energy and materials, the event included a number of sessions on social justice.

For Colleen FitzSimons, one particular session stuck out. It focused on the Liberty Bank Building,  a new mixed-use affordable housing project at the location of Liberty Bank, Seattle’s first bank serving the black community in the Central District of Seattle, also known as Africatown. In these days of increasing gentrification, the development effort is a unique one. Rather than paving over the neighborhood’s history and the important role that Liberty Bank has played in Seattle’s African American community, the project has placed these issues front and center. Africatown Seattle joined The Black Community Impact Alliance, Centerstone and Capitol Hill Housing in a Memorandum of Understanding to integrate the community and local businesses into the new development project and its commercial spaces.

It brings to light an important topic that often gets less attention in the green building and sustainability worlds, namely who exactly gets access to higher quality and healthier buildings. As we push forward with new innovations in the sustainability sector, social justice issues must become a bigger part of the conversation. These sessions at LF17 are integral to that conversation.

LF17 also payed homage to our dearly departed founder, Bill Worthen. At the end of the Big Bang Dinner, where all the newly certified Living Building Challenge projects are recognized, Kathleen Smith spoke of Bill’s passing and his incredible influence on the sustainability community and broader green building world. After sharing a number of photos and reminiscing about their years of friendship, she closed with the following “We will miss you and continue your work in your honor.”

Thank you, Kathleen. We feel the same!