What We Build Is Who We Are.
Emerging Terrain’s goal is to inspire re-imagination of the places and spaces of our cities, facilitate community development, and creatively inform civic and urban planning.
Emerging Terrain began with a mission, a project, and a desire to mobilize the growing movement of Design Advocacy Practice in the Midwest. Through this movement, design practitioners across the nation have been seeking ways to impact their city’s built environment more broadly than a defined physical space often established in traditional client/consultant projects. Through the flexibility of nonprofit structure and associated diversity of funding opportunities, an increasing number of organizations have successfully employed combinations of site specific pop-up events, temporary installations, design competitions, focused research undertakings, alternative design proposals, exhibitions, and workshops and conferences. These approaches are intended to engage citizens in citymaking and ultimately impact how vision is generated and incorporated into urban planning policy, practice, and implementation, towards a better public realm. Design Advocacy Practice and Public Interest Design continue to mature through collaborations across disciplines, cities, and regions. Funding initiatives such as the National Endowment for the Arts Our Town indicate that the combination of practitioners on the ground and funders discovering the potential impact of these strategies has led to a broadened understanding of and approach to design in shaping communities.
In the past 3-years, Emerging Terrain has been able to test many strategies and tactics common to Design Advocacy Practice. Focusing on a smaller territory – the Omaha metropolitan area – during this time has generated a record of response and insight into the effectiveness of each. We have acted in partnership or advisory capacity with private land and business owners, neighborhood associations, public sector departments and agencies including the state department of roads, public works, planning, parks, regional planning agency, transit authority, city council, state legislature, community college, state university, and other nonprofits. We have worked closely, across multiple jurisdictions, with private foundations, state art and humanities councils, federal grant-makers, corporate charities, individual citizen contributors, and venture capital investors. We have initiated partnerships and reached implementation goals with multiple Chambers of Commerce. And most importantly, we have begun to foster a community of young design and planning professionals. We identify our most successful initiatives as those in which we were able to give agency to these young professionals, in a risk free, collaborative environment, thus encouraging and enabling the emergence of hybrid forms of practice.