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Author: Alicia Belton
Title: UROC + Camp SEE
Category: Justice & equity
Description: It's hard to be something that you cannot see. Camp SEE gives youth a larger view of what they can realize beyond themselves. Offering an intimate exposure to the profession of architecture and an architect’s role in building an equitable environment, the camp mentors and empowers the next generation of energy ambassadors through hands on tours, activities and experiments. In particular, the camp highlights places in the community that use renewable energy and shows their correlation to broader environmental impacts. Scholars from Camp SEE at UROC, also known as the University of Minnesota's Urban Research and Outreach Engagement Center, learned about the adaptive reuse of this formerly underutilized 22,000 square foot strip mall in their own community of North Minneapolis. Focusing on middle school girls of color, scholars delved into topics about their environmental footprint, designing with renewable energy and principals of sustainable neighborhoods. They also learned about the lingering environmental impacts of redlining practices. UROC's mission to create new models of urban and community development is reflected in its welcoming gesture of equitable design for all housing collaborative and flexible workspaces, art gallery and teaching kitchen for community and a mediation room for staff. Recently celebrating ten years, UROC continues to serve community and scholars learned about how programming can shape what happens in a building. With services to respond to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and civil unrest in North Minneapolis and free workforce development program and computer refurbishing program, it remains a place for sharing resources and knowledge. Camp SEE at UROC made architecture fun and accessible through sketching, model and team building. More importantly, by providing insight into all the decisions that go into designing a building, youth gained exposure to a profession where approximately 500 African American women now practice. These mentoring and relationship building opportunities can start to make a tangible difference in diversifying the profession.