Tortilla Horizontal

La Tortilleria Horizontal built an experimental tortilla factory in Mexico City to engage the local community in conversation about the impact of GMO on corn and Mexican culture.


Corn holds a significant place in Mexican culture and history, and many native species are being endangered by big agriculture. La Tortilleria Horizontal built an experimental tortilla factory in Mexico City to engage the local community in conversation about the impact of GMO on corn and Mexican culture.

"Intriguing and unexpected people started to show up at the tortilleria and with them, they brought their own ideas and experiences. The tortilla was a simple space that offered a way to approach certain ideas but it was also way more about what the people did with those ideas and how they contributed and built upon that. The participation and engagement of the people who had the opportunity to stumble upon the project was the substance of what the tortilleria was all about and it is definitely what made the project so enriching and beautiful."

The team constructed a temporary storefront that operated for four weeks, hosting lectures, workshops, concerts, and communal meals. Community members could directly connect with their food heritage by making their own tortillas and engaging in dialogue around corn and GMO. Team La Tortilleria Horizontal envisioned this successful temporary operation as an interactive vehicle for awareness and community building that could be replicated at future sites.


Weaving Nature

Team Weaving Nature envisioned a sustainable cycle of growing, using, composting, and regrowing natural dyes for local artisans, globally.

They speculated that their model could be replicated for textile artisans anywhere, and chose Guatativita, Colombia for this iteration.

"We had a very interdisciplinary team consisting of many different abilities and worked quite well together. We had builders, writers, and textile artists. Working together as a team was challenging at times when we all had different perspectives. We learned to come up to agreements in these situations and matured along the way."

The team developed dye recipes using easily accessible vegetables, spices, and food waste, compiling them into a bilingual Spanish/English book to distribute to the Guatativita artist community. They also designed and fabricated a compost bin for waste leftover from dye extraction. The compost would go on to fertilize the next generation of plant dyes.



Nirmoktra is a Sanskrit word which means “to empower through knowledge.” Team Nirmoktra brought creative problem solving skills and critical thinking strategies to primary educationg in rural India.

The current education system in the government schools of India is based on rote memorization, and questioning information is discouraged. Team Nirmoktra decided to bring creative problem solving skills and critical thinking strategies to rural India. Their community partner, the Aparajitha Foundation, connected them with their pilot school. At the Swami Vivekanand Model Government School in Kherwara, Rajasthan, the team worked with over 160 students and several teachers to develop the best ways of integrating these tools and frameworks into the curriculum. They also set up a learning resource center for teachers and for the student body, and collaborated with students on a school mural.

“In this case, the idea was design thinking (Critical thinking and problem-solving skills) and it was constantly altered to the version that would best suit the Indian context. I also learnt a great deal about how to make ideas universal, by reducing them to their fundamentals so that more people can access them.”

At the end of the project, the Aparajitha Foundation arranged for Team Nirmoktra to present their findings to the state government. The team presented the impact of their work to the head of the educational board and 72 other school principals. Many principals expressed interest in Nirmoktra running the same workshop at their own schools.


Navajo Mountain School Project

The Navajo Mountain School Project was conceived to empower the Navajo community through renovating a disused building of historical importance.


The team planned to collaboratively transform an old school building into a site for community arts and culture education.

"Within this specific community, there is no lack of ideas that are needed to fill the spaces we were renovating. I’ve discovered a different level of collaboration, learned the nature of my community at Navajo Mountain, and taught myself to listen when I’m so used to just charging ahead with projects of this nature."

The project included public engagement opportunities and a craft workshop during communal renovation efforts. It aimed to provide tools and resources for the community to leverage its own creativity in continuing to develop Navajo art and culture programs after reconstruction.


Miti Miti

Team Miti Miti believed that education was the key to transforming Colombia’s society, and sought to address educational inequity through a social business model.


Because access to school supplies can be a huge barrier for staying in school, the team created a buy one, give one company that designs, manufactures, and sells high quality notebooks. For every notebook sold, one is donated to a student in need in Colombia.

“As a social business, all of the proceeds go directly to support our mission. In Miti Miti, we believe in the power of sharing: by creating a competitive, high quality solution to a market-driven problem, we can make a sustainable impact on access to education.”

All proceeds go towards supporting their mission of sustainable impact on access to education. They are currently developing a tutoring program and a design-thinking workshop to empower students to achieve beyond their socioeconomic boundaries.



Marcus Books

Team Marcus Books partnered with Marcus Books and the African American Arts & Culture Complex to recreate the prominent Marcus Bookstore within the AAACC’s physical complex.


The Marcus Bookstore was a major hub for the San Francisco African American community in the Fillmore since the 60’s. It was a critical site for intellectual and communal activity, but was evicted in 2014 against major public outcry. Team Marcus Books partnered with the Marcus Books and the African American Arts & Culture Complex Initiative (AAACC) to recreate the space within the AAACC’s physical complex.

“We will always face contrasting goals within teams, talking through these goals and prioritizing helps to get everyone on the same page.”

The team acted as design facilitators, creating and testing prototypes, devising business strategies, and providing architectural renderings and visualizations. They also supported a dynamic relationship between the community and the organization, actively incorporating community voices into the design process. The tools and resources they developed will be used by the AAACC to carry the project forward.



Partnering with San Francisco Nonprofit Simply the Basics, Dahlia developed materials for a strategic marketing campaign

Project Dahlia was a reaction to the high levels of homelessness in San Francisco. The team was especially interested in addressing problems surrounding hygienic needs, and partnered with Simply the Basics to develop materials for a strategic marketing campaign. One of its main programs is managing and distributing hygiene donations to other organizations, and Simply the Basics is a valuable resource for other nonprofits as well as for homeless individuals. Team Dahlia supported them with spreading awareness to garner more community support and develop collaborative relationships with other organizations.


Open Engagement Walking Tour

23rd and Telegraph:  Exploring Oakland at the Intersection of Art and Social Justice

Open Engagement is an international conference and platform to support socially engaged art. The conference highlights the work of transdisciplinary artists, activists, students, scholars, community members, and organizations. The following walking tour was a part of Open Engagement 2016 in Oakland, CA.

The Open Engagement walking tour group was invited to engage with 5 distinct historic, community sites in Oakland: Malonga Casquelourd Center for the Arts, Soul Space: Shoe Gallery and Creative Lab, Betti Ono, Regina’s Door, and Chapter 510. The tour started at Oakland Museum of California, where the Open Engagement group was greeted by Chapter 510 high school students tour guides. Stopping briefly at each venue, the group learned about the site’s specific programming, the various mediums through which issues of power are addressed by the site, and how these organizations are situated in relation to the dynamics of displacement.  Presentations along the tour explored the importance of storytelling as a means of resistance, tactics through which to intervene in economic structures that promote or hinder cultural expression, the ways in which art-making and arts organizations may co-opt and/or fortify urban networks  towards collaboration, and the ways in which cultural processes may both translate and give voice to endangered histories as well as anticipate a more equitable future. The walk ended at Chapter 510, the intersection of art and social justice, for a public conversation, snacks and drinks in Uptown Oakland.

Download a .PDF of the Walking Tour Map

This map encourages you to share the same route as the group at Open Engagement 2016. The walking tour of Oakland, co-hosted by Chapter 510, Parcel Projects, and the Center for Art + Public Life at CCA, starts from the Oakland Museum of California, an interdisciplinary museum dedicated to art, history, and natural science of California, and ends at Chapter 510, an Oakland community organization committed to developing creative and expository writing skills for students.


Architecture Live Projects

How might creative institutions begin to address issues of pressing social, environmental and economic need? And, what does it mean for students of creative disciplines to engage in the “real world”?


ENGAGE at CCA provides a working model for schools of art and design contending with two timely and salient questions: how might creative institutions begin to address issues of pressing social, environmental and economic need? And, what does it mean for students of creative disciplines to engage in the “real world”? Housed within the Center for Art and Public Life at California College of the Arts, ENGAGE at CCA connects faculty and students with community partners through semester-long projects that focus on specific needs defined by, or identified in collaboration with, their partner. This paper offers reflection on how ENGAGE responds to these questions through the process of early course development and the positive impact that process endeavors to have on students’ sense of creative and personal agency.

Chapter written by Megan Clark, Manager of Strategic Partnerships and ENGAGE at CCA

Purchase a copy of the book


Architecture Live Projects provides a persuasive, evidence-based advocacy for moving a particular kind of architectural learning, known as Live Projects, towards a holistic integration into current and future architectural curricula. Live Projects are work completed in the borderlands between architectural education and built environment practice; they include design/build work, community-based design, urban advocacy consulting and a host of other forms and models described by the book’s international group of authors. This collection of essays and case studies consolidates current discussions on theory and learning ambitions, academic best practices, negotiation with licensure and accreditation, and considerations of architectural integrity.


Oakland Technical High School

Externs have the opportunity to work with Oakland’s Fashion Art and Design Academy instructors to enrich a variety of science and humanities classes by integrating arts education methodologies.

Organization Description:

Fashion Art and Design Academy (FADA) provides a small, engaging, and diverse collaborative learning community for all students. Through real-world, work-based learning experiences, industry partnerships, and education in a range of disciplines, FADA students are empowered to begin post-secondary paths in the fields of fashion, art, and design.

Externship Description:

Externs at Fashion Art and Design Academy assist in lessons by engaging students one-on-one with their work. Externs help FADA students with specific assignments, such as exhibition installations, portfolio presentations, photo documentations of artwork, and writing their artistic statements. Externs also have the opportunity to work with instructors on enriching a variety of science and humanities classes by integrating arts education methodologies.