African Design Magazine April 2016 - Page 65

Feature Interview Afritecture Jack Travis So, the support they extended to us came from their hearts, perhaps their souls, and much less from their reasoning of what we should be focusing in on for personal gain. I think my parents preferred us to be happy, safe and self-reliant than prosperous or well to do. Racism was still a clear and ever present danger and fixture overtly practiced in American culture and we could definitely sense from a very early age that Black people (as well as Mexicans, Cubans and the few Native peoples) had a different set of circumstances to navigate than other people in the town. I suppose the fact that my parents navigated from their hearts (soul) first and foremost is the reason I orientate myself towards architecture in similar fashion. Architecture for me has always been about people solutions for equity in spatial navigation for making place. Much of my focus is small scale and I have never been able to, or quite frankly, been interested in, navigating large scale problems. Recently I have discovered that small scale solutions really lie in large scale concepts that are evidence based and conceived in collaboration with a whole host of players outside of the design field that we were not taught in school matter at all in the design process of making good and relevant design. I’m referring to people such as activist, advocates, community organizers and simply concerned mothers and fathers and the like. I knew many people who were not architects by training but who not only built but maintained as well as designed and planned our buildings on the West side of Las Vegas. These people I learned to discount and ignore for the most part. However I later re-realized that these are people who really understood the pulse of the Black community as professional and politicians didn’t really seem to care so much. Jack with director Spike Lee and actor Wesley Snipes. At Alliance FrancoSénégalaise, Kaolack