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An epidemic of loneliness is sweeping the country. But we believe that through beautiful and thoughtful design, we can create a more connected community.

And these top designers will help us do it.

We put out an open invitation for designers, artists, architects, and innovators to explore the profound impact of design on how people connect with others, the universe, and themselves in today's world. The competition aims to heal, unite, and inspire sustainability, inclusivity, and human and spiritual connection, and builds from the Jewish imperatives to improve our global community and honor the interconnectedness of all people and the planet.

The challenge is to create a public infrastructure
piece that reimagines public spaces as catalysts
for creating moments of connection, empathy,

and shared experiences.

Design Finalists and Winner: 

  • 1st Place ($2,500 prize) | Zac Feltoon Design: Zac Feltoon

  • 2nd Place | Resonance: Nnennia / N’ụlọ Adaeze

  • 3rd Place | Connection Bench: Jordan Bowman and Danny Krafft

  • People's Choice ($1,500 prize) | The Shared S(h)elf Project: Isha Patel and Pavithra Sriram

  • Chalk the Block: Simon Anderson

  • Rock Leaf: Lynn Trepp, Jill Sahlstrom, and Ken Sahlstrom

  • Sculputra Shelter: SMU Madi; Justin Childress, Angela Molinero Heras, Haritha Somanathan Muriyath, Jessica Burnham, Chris Cloud

  • XOXO: BF Studios; Bunmi Fagbenro, Robert Cipriano, and Laura Hanna

Scroll to view the final Wikiblock designs by the eight contestants. (Photos: Better Block)

The final creations should be a testament to the idea that design can not only be pragmatic but also bridge divides, foster unity, and promote a deeper sense of connection with the world around us – and it should align with Better Block’s Wikiblock philosophy that anyone, anywhere can create beautiful and meaningful design.

Over the coming months, the finalists will be hard at work bringing their designs to life, ready to showcase them at the competition on June 13 in Dallas, Texas, at Thanks-Giving Square where they’ll be competing and judged by a curated panel. The community will have the opportunity to vote a for People’s Choice favorite via an online ballot after the competition day on June 14.

 

Join us in this competition as these designers create a piece that helps reshape public spaces into beacons of connection and understanding. In a recent interview with CityLab Bloomberg, we discuss how design can tackle loneliness and make the Thanks-Giving Square's plaza into a more welcoming place. Let's use the language of design to bridge gaps, foster empathy, and celebrate the beauty of our shared humanity. Together, we can create spaces that inspire modern-day manifestations of spirituality through connection, compassion, and our shared humanity.​

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LEND A
HELPING HAND

A temporary demonstration is headed to Thanks-Giving Square this summer and we need your help!

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WEBINAR SERIES

A webinar series exploring how our world is shaped by faith, religion, and bringing people together.

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COMPETITION BRIEF

For all the details on the design competition specs, take a look at the competitors' brief.

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PARTNERS

Meet the folks working with

you to bring this initiative to life.

About Creating Connections: A Design Competition

In 2022, Common Era and the design research team at Humancraft worked together to build a series of experiments around contemporary interpretations of spirituality. By exploring modern day manifestations of spirituality in public spaces, the team learned more about how people perceive, experience, and seek out spirituality today. 

In the following video, you'll see the results of those experiments.

 

When the folks at Common Era told us about the project, we at the Better Block were inspired by the concept of taking Spirituality into the Streets - especially one of the key findings, which was to allow for public serendipity.

 

It got us thinking: what if we challenged creators to take this concept and create a public utility piece, and thus, Creating Connections was born.

 

We're excited to see where it goes. We know loneliness is something many of our neighbors are facing. We're hoping that through this design competition, we can chip away at that feeling of isolation, and create a more connected world.

  • Eve Pearlman | Co-Founder, Spaceship Media : Eve Pearlman is a journalistic innovator, speaker, writer, and thought leader. In 2016, she co-founded Spaceship Media with a mission to reduce polarization, restore trust in journalism, and build communities. Spaceship Media created a method known as dialogue journalism, which reconceptualizes the information and reporting process, putting divided communities at the heart of journalistic practice.

  • Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP, Hon. ASLA | Principal, McAdams: Mitchell is a principal with McAdams, a land planning and design company. He is responsible for providing advisory services in urban planning, parks, and public space planning. He is an award-winning planner with more than 39 years of experience and is internationally recognized for his leadership and contributions to contemporary planning issues. He is a prolific public speaker and specializes in urban planning, placemaking, and implementation strategies.

  • Peter Goldstein | Co-Founder, CityLab High School: Peter Goldstein is a licensed architect and educator from Dallas, TX.  He is the Cofounder of CityLab HS, a DallasISD Choice High School where students use the city as their classroom. Prior to the opening of CityLab in 2017, Peter taught in the DallasISD magnet architecture program at Skyline High School, and his students’ work has been included in a number of exhibitions and installations including the Marilla Street and Ferris Plaza design+build projects in downtown Dallas, and exhibitions at the Dallas Museum of Art and the University of Texas at Arlington.

  • Yonah Schiller | Chief R&D Officer, Common Era: As Chief R&D Officer at Common Era, Yonah Schiller leads the company's growth and innovation by cultivating a team of talented individuals and cutting-edge ideas, developing a platform for research and interventions, and making strategic grants. These programs challenge the status quo and find innovative ways to improve the Jewish experience.

  • Jessamyn Waldman Rodriguez | Chief Philanthropy Officer, Lubetzky Family Foundation: Jessamyn Waldman Rodriguez is a dynamic leader known for her contributions to entrepreneurship, workforce innovation, and community advancement. With a diverse background spanning hospitality, non-profit leadership, and philanthropy, she demonstrates exceptional skill in strategic planning and innovation. Currently, as the Chief Philanthropy Officer and President of Builders Network, Jessamyn oversees the strategic initiatives of the Lubetzky Family Foundation, leading four organizations and a portfolio of philanthropic giving, mainly focused on the work of combating global extremism

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