As America’s premier biophilic design consultancy, we felt called to the challenging yet rewarding work of building community capacity inside of our unique pre-design process. This is achieved through strengthening local ecosystems that are made up of individuals as well as institutions that harbor a deep commitment to cultural landscape preservation. Our work begins with the programming and promotion of pre-existing community assets; highlighting intrinsic value in a way that makes local artists, entrepreneurs, merchants and non-profits visible to those large institutions and international brands that have a genuine interest in deep, sustained, social, environmental and economic impact.
In this way we are able to promote ‘wholistic sustainability’ as a best practice.
Over the years we have had the honor of working closely with local communities of thought-leaders to reinvigorate dialogue that centers the need for curated safe spaces for cultural exchange, the preservation of cultural landscapes, ecotourism, youth environmental design education, economic development without displacement, fine art, classical music, the promotion of self-directed education and more. Our membership packages represent the final phase in our pre-design work, with a goal of building capacity before engaging in the environmental restoration work in American cities.
MERCHANT, ARTIST & ARTISAN MEMBERSHIP
Our interdisciplinary team of hand picked, place-based, subject matter experts (from anthropologists and behavioral psychologists to animal scientists and environmental stewards) each begin their work with Sally Blagg as client-members; working together with one another, they explore the ways in which environmental conditions have played a role in their own personal as well as professional development. These experts, on-the-ground in the communities where we conduct our pre-design capacity building work long before developers arrive, make up our merchant, artist and artisan membership level.
Each member is hand selected, or recommended, by local community leaders based on the unique needs of the environments where we work. When documentation is necessary that team includes local videographers and photographers. When holistic healing is necessary the team includes medicine women and environmental stewards. Our leadership team does not superimpose its ‘studied’ understanding of members needs; we simply co-curate safe spaces for trauma informed exploration into each members own individual development process, adding value where we can by connecting members with the information and resources that they say they want and need.
When the members at this level feel the confidence to do so, they become a part of our international network. Together, we take to the task of community education and, when necessary, environmental restoration planning. Our members help to sustain our capacity-building work long after we have move on to our next project, allowing for us to pull from a diverse range of best practices when we are working with municipal as well as institutional clients.
REGIONAL MUNICIPALITY & NGO MEMBERSHIP
Since the start of the Dutch colonial period in the America’s, around 1590, we have seen European municipalities pop-up along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts to facilitate trade between Asia, Europe and groups of indigenous American’s. Regional polities, like New Sweden, which included the current boundaries for Philadelphia County, gave European migrants a monopoly over the trade of American goods. The contemporary City of Philadelphia, managing the Port of Philadelphia and all of the commerce within the city-county’s bounds, has been home to our capacity building work since August of 2011.
Much has happened in the time since we arrived; our most profound lesson learned is that people are, ultimately, an extension of the environmental conditions within which they are born. It has become necessary, in our client work, to bring resident and merchant experts to the planning, design and policy making table as assets with their own unique expertise. Our regional municipality and NGO membership level allows us to work with regional polities on human centered environmental design plans that are in alignment with the life and culture of the most vulnerable populations whom oftentimes go unheard in the development process.
Over the past decade our work was concentrated within the former footprint for North American Dutch Colonial holdings (New Netherland, New Sweden and, formerly, Lenapehoking) with intent upon leading the decolonization efforts necessary for the vast region to thrive economically. Our client-members at this level are committed to change over time in a manner that is both practical and sustainable AND sometimes adjusting to change is uncomfortable. For members at this level we come to the table equipped with the resources necessary to aid municipal as well as NGO leadership with active management of the growth required for sustained impact.
INSTITUTIONAL & INTERNATIONAL BRAND MEMBERSHIP
Sally Blagg relationship-building over the past decade has placed us alongside some of the world’s most culturally competent institutions as well as many of the most intentional brands. Our design approach with institutional advertisers as well as international brands, much like our work with municipalities and NGO’s, is deeply considerate of the history of people in place. This high level of intention allows us to produce some of the most organic branding and advertising experiences alongside both clients and communities.
There is no place where our approach will become more visible than in Philadelphia over the next few years, as the city prepares to host the World Cup in 2026. We have been working with institutions and brands, both domestically and abroad, interested in increasing visibility through design between now and 2026 as the year also marks the 250th Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, a major tourist draw for the City of Philadelphia. Diverse economic impact is the central concern for our local subject matter experts. We are aligned with local institutions and brands so that the economic impact of 2026 is felt by all of the residents and businesses in the city.