Meet our 2021 Redesign our City speakers who took the virtual Black Ignite stage on April 18th, 2021! 🔥🔥🔥 If you missed it you can still watch the replay at the link below.

Melinda Meme Anderson

2021 Redesign our city Host
Detroit, MI

Melinda Anderson is an award-winning event designer and producer. “I am born and raised in Detroit, Istudied architecture at the University of Michigan and set design in Palermo,Italy. I have travelled extensively internationally and have lived in Berlin,and Florence. Upon returning to Detroit,I worked for an architecture firm that specialized in aviation architecture. However at 911, a AIA toon architecture was put on hold and I was laid off. That was okay as the job was not as creative as I had hoped it to be. Almost every designer dreams of being the next architectural superstar. These things take time,hard hard work, and luck. Not to say that I did was not able to cut it,but being hands on designing was more of my thing.

So while I worked for the architecture firm, I fell in love with event design as a volunteer on an event and now have developed a penchant for juxtaposing the ephemeral and highlighting the Detroit creative community. Detroit is the LOVE of my life and I am happy to use design to show my city off and to change lives. I am thrilled to be sharing my work and hosting this event with Black Ignite!”

Lexi Brunson

2021 Redesign our city Speaker
Milwaukee, WI

Lexi S. Brunson is owner and active Editor-in-Chief of CopyWrite Magazine. With her role at CopyWrite, Lexi has built a creative network that not only showcases the creative community but serves as advocates and mentors for young writers, designers, and creatives. Obsessed with all things Urban, Lexi is a creative who believes in the importance of building authentic community within the city.

Her working talk title is, “All Things Urban: Through a Creative Lens” and she’s sharing ideas on how to programmatically develop community through authentic practices rooted in creativity and culture.

“It is important to actively use representation in community development. That should reflect a holistic approach of design that does not shun culture but embraces it. I have done research on the impact culture has on both the physical, digital, and socioeconomic spaces we dwell in that I feel is vital to the change we all need to thrive.”

Trae Isaac

2021 Redesign our city Speaker

Trae is a Detroit native speakin on it with his talk called, Respect the art. I am driven by a genuine passion for manifesting awe-inspiring and psychologically empowering pieces of art. Based on my life as person who has had to find power through loss and peace through discomfort.

My talk will serve as a blunt reminder of how much Visual Art drives our day-to-day lifestyle, and how a majority of people undervalue the Creators of the Art they indulge in so effortlessly and freely. Artists, and the art that they create are the individuals and teams who fearlessly take upon the task of elevating and advancing our 5 senses and states of being. It’s time that we get to a place where artists are celebrated and actively sought after for their insight and inspiration. As they say without Art, the Earth is just “Eh”…

Donna Jackson

2021 Redesign our city Speaker
Detroit, MI

Donna Jackson is an artist, designer and project manager from Detroit, Michigan who creates things that matter to her as a woman, a person of color, an urban dweller and global citizen.

Her talk is entitled “You Belong: Combating Gentrification with Arts and Culture.” She will share her thoughts and ideas on the power of the arts and how it is used to signal and mark spaces as safe and inclusive for community members of color. She will also discuss how art, which can be an initiator of gentrification, can combat the negative effects of gentrification and redesign how people engage and develop a community and city.

Brandon Dame 55 Williams

2021 Redesign our city Speaker
Los Angeles, CA

Brandon is a Multi-Disciplinary Afro Futurist creative strategist with a focus on entertainment & tech. Also the founder of 55 Media Group a Brand Strategy & Design Agency, focused on equity.

In his talk entitled, “Equity in our City through blockchain & NFTs” he is sharing ideas to solve for unemployment, homeless, & jobs in West Los Angeles. “I’m in Inglewood right now and I’m opening up a space here that will be a community space! It’s very important for me to be able to give back to my community. Find ways to solve for systemic issues.”

John B. Johnson

2021 Redesign our city Speaker
Seattle, WA

John Johnson is an identity architect –– a term that comes from his experience as a student of architecture and the yearning to bridge the gap between different communities. With the belief that everything starts with identity, he founded [a small studio], an agency centered around the idea that the work can’t start unless you understand who you are. As a black agency leader, John is on a mission to bring greater diversity and inclusion to the creative profession to truly solve the problems of a diverse society.

In this talk, John B. Johnson, identity architect and agency leader, will discuss why it’s important for those who are designing the fabric of our societies to actually be operating and placing themselves in it. It’s only through living in and truly experiencing that society that the design community –– whether designing for the built world or the experiential world –– will be able to ignite change and meet the needs of the diverse communities, cultures and individuals they are designing for.

“When you think of the urban fabric of a city or community, you often think of the physical environment –– the architecture or built environment. But it goes much deeper than that. The urban fabric also represents the psychological, economic and socio-cultural structures. When taking this into consideration, it begs the question: who is creating these structures? Are they uniquely equipped to design this fabric? Have they experienced the heartbeat of the community or are they removed from it?”

Aneya Raynor

2021 Redesign our city Speaker
Mobile, AL

Aneya Raynor, a graphic design student in her senior year creating a magazine that is dedicated to all the Black Queens in the world. It is designed to challenge its viewers to see the world in the eyes of a Black woman who is striving to find who she is in society. Learning it’s roots and foundation and then leaving her mark. Ultimately putting the well deserved respect to her name.

Her talk, “Reflecting Who You Represent” she’ll be discussing a magazine created by Black women for Black women that is designed to challenge its viewers to see the world in the eyes of a Black woman who is striving to find who she is in society. Learning its roots and foundation and then leaving her mark. Ultimately putting the well deserved respect to her name.

Emiola Banwo

2021 Redesign our city Speaker
Atlanta, GA

Emiola Banwo believes that we all have a role to play in building a better world. He combines his experience in product design and his expertise in sustainable development to build the tools that empower a global movement for the global goals. He recently founded The Monuments Foundation to design products and strategies for the United Nations and other global initiatives.

“I believe my experience designing Civic Tech solutions at Twitter and the United Nation will be valuable to the audience – who I believe can find purpose in contributing to Social Impact.”

In his talk, “Designing our Future” he asks, How might we design the pathway to a world that’s equitable, prosperous, AND sustainable?

Michelle Alexander

2021 Redesign our city Speaker, New Jersey

Michelle Alexander has been an Art Teacher for 16 years. She began her business, The Pour Artist NJ because she needed a creative outlet. She continues to be a student while inspire her students in a safe space.

Her talk “Keep Creating” will especially inspire Art Educators and students of Art.

Nicole Brown

2021 Redesign our city Speaker

Nicole Brown is a Senior Program Manger at Detroit Future City with over 15 years of experience in working on transformative projects with community members in cross-sector partnerships in Detroit around transportation, sustainability and community and economic development.

Her talk, “Reimagining a Thriving City Built by and For Detroiters” will focus on how through leveraging lived community experiences, data, research and authentic community partnership development , our city can fully become the thriving, just and equitable city, we know it can be , built by and for Detroiter’s.

Detroit Future City, is a urban think and do tank that serves the city of Detroit’s residents and other stakeholders and are committed to elevating the voice and experiences of Detroiter’s to ethically and equitably drive the change necessary to achieve the 50-year vision set forth in the Detroit Strategic Framework in 2013. This visioning document outlines the hopes and dreams for over 100,000 Detroiters for their city in a comprehensive plan. I want to share how we have been doing this work and nearly ten years later how we going deeper to support implementors of the framework in ways that lift their work and have the power to cause dynamic generational change in the families of Detroiters.

Bryce Detroit

2021 Redesign our city Speaker

Bryce Detroit is the multidisciplinary Afrofuturist music artist, storyteller, activist, and pioneer of Entertainment Justice. As a cultural designer, he is a national award-winning music producer and curator. Through his social practice Bryce Detroit demonstrates the power of using music entertainment arts and native legacies to preserve, produce, and promote new Diasporic Afrikan narratives, cultural literacies, and cooperative neighborhood-based economies.

His talk is entitled “ROAD WORK: Hood Closed to Gentrifiers.” Bryce Detroit has created a dynamic platform to necessarily call-out the modern trends in cultural/socioeconomic displacement and erasure [gentrification], while emphatically uplifting the dynamic legacies of self-determination, resilience and resourcefulness, that have been and continue to be demonstrated in our highly-contested racialized geographies.

A major aspect of my multidisciplinary work is using art and design to confront the conventional [old] ways that “traffic” [people; capitalist interests] is directed into (and out of) our majority our neighborhoods. Why and how people foreign to my city/neighborhood [outsiders] enter our spaces and conduct themselves is a diplomatic affair. As a self-deputized Detroit #diplomat, one of my roles is to make the cultural code visible and explicit, and then to disseminate our cultural policies, hyperlocally to globally.

Yolanda Michelle

2021 Redesign our city Speaker
Detroit, MI

Yolanda has been designing and creating jewelry and accessories for 20+ years. She is passionate about helping entrepreneurs to think strategically in their business planning, as well as exposing youth to business ownership. She is leveraging 13+ years of entrepreneurship and small business education at the Build Institute where she directs and facilitates programming and classes.

Her talk is entitled, The Business of Design”

“My talk is centered around artists and designers as change agents, not only in the work they create, but advocating for the business of their work as well. Entrepreneurship can empower artists, their families, neighborhoods, and communities.” — This is a great platform to convene thought leaders and engage with designers nationwide and globally. Sometimes we’re so busy in the day to day of work, we forget to put our heads up to connect with others out here doing the work as well.”