Spatial Justice in the Innovation Quarter

6 minute read

Sharing spatial resources and facilitating events create a more equitable, diverse and inclusive community.

The Innovation Quarter is more than just an expanse of buildings. It’s where research meets entrepreneurship. It’s where history becomes art. It’s where collaboration and creativity spark change. At the intersection of this kind of placemaking and the pursuit of equity and equality sits the concept of spatial justice—how the distribution, use of and access to space directly affects social justice.

To us, spaces like Bailey Park, Long Branch Trail and the buildings that comprise the Innovation Quarter are not just amenities for tenants. We believe our spaces can shape social connection as much as social connection can shape space, and we’re dedicated to reimagining and reinventing the public places at the heart of our community.

By intentionally sharing our spatial resources and facilitating events, we can strengthen the connection between people and the places we share, creating a more equitable, diverse and inclusive community for all.

We will continue to work on building vibrant spaces and places that contribute to our entire community’s health, education, and well-being—no matter a person’s background, identity, or age.

Here are some examples of how we’re facilitating spatial justice in the Innovation Quarter:

1. Union Baptist Church Drive-in Resurrection Worship

Spatial justice and equity occurred in the Innovation Quarter when it opened up its parking lot space to Union Baptist Church.
Photo credit: Winston-Salem Journal

Drivers and passengers in more than 200 vehicles gathered in an Innovation Quarter parking lot for Union Baptist Church’s resurrection service on Holy Saturday 2020, a month after COVID-19 shut down churches and gathering spaces throughout the world. Throughout the service, drivers loudly honked their horns to show their appreciation for the words of encouragement and faith that the ministers delivered to them as the community found solace by gathering in a safe, socially distanced space.

2. Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest North Carolina Pop-up Produce Pantry

The National Guard distributes meals in parking lot spaces in Innovation Quarter to increase food equity and spatial justice.
Photo credit: Second Harvest

Did you know that the poverty rate in Winston-Salem/Forsyth County is 16.9%, with 27% of children in the city living in poverty? Food security can only exist when everyone has physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food. By serving eighteen counties in northwest North Carolina, Second Harvest provides food to those who need it the most.

With parking lot volume decreasing during the pandemic, we partnered with Second Harvest to turn an iQ parking lot at 733 N Research Parkway into a weekly drive-through produce pantry. Learn more about Second Harvest, including how to donate.

3. Soy Emprendedor in the Innovation Quarter

The Innovation Quarter share  resources with ACCelera 2021 students to promote spatial justice and equity.
ACCelera 2021

Entrepreneurship is at the heart of our ecosystem, and we recognize that we must support the diverse pipeline of talent that sets the scene for future innovation. Soy Emprendedor inspires and educates Black and Latinx students to discover a creative, curious and entrepreneurial mindset.

We recently offered up our spaces for Soy Emprendedor to host ACCelera, its 2-month accelerator program. The program teaches students how to foster an entrepreneurial and innovative way of thinking. Throughout the program, each student works with a local mentor to brainstorm a business idea, develop a concept, build a presentation, and present it to a group of Winston-Salem entrepreneurs.

4. Lean Back Soul Food Thanksgiving at Bailey Park

Lean Back Soul Food uses space in Bailey Park to distribute free Thanksgiving meals and increase food equity.
Photo credit: Winston-Salem Journal

Since 2015, Bailey Park has been a community gathering place—but congregating has looked very different during the pandemic. On Thanksgiving Day 2020, a day known for get-togethers, we were excited to host LeanBack Soul Food as they provided free dinners to underserved populations in our community in the upper pavilion.

This catering company—owned and operated by Crissy Faison, a Forsyth Tech Community College Small Business Center client—prepared approximately 200 meals consisting of rosemary chicken, turkey, mash potatoes, gravy, beans, rolls and cookies. The event was free to all who walked by and was one of the highlights of a tough year.

5. Winston for Peace at Bailey Park

Winston for Peace activists utilize space in the Innovation Quarter to advance social equity.
Photo credit: Winston for Peace

Winston for Peace was founded on May 31, 2020, at the height of the Black Lives Matter movement. It started as an Instagram account (@winston4peace) that founder and high school student Olivia M. Moore used to promote the first large scale peaceful protest in Winston-Salem in response to the death of George Floyd. Since then, it has grown into an organization that engages Winston’s youth in social justice and community issues and promotes student-led initiatives that make real change.

As part of our commitment to creating inclusive spaces and promoting inclusion, diversity and anti-racism, we provided Winston for Peace with operational support through access to our facilities as they organized equity outreach.

6. Juneteenth Festival in the Innovation Quarter

The Innovation Quarter facilitates the annual Juneteenth Festival to advance spatial justice and social equity.
Juneteenth 2017

One of our favorite ways to remember the thriving Black community once located in the Innovation Quarter, including the Depot Street and Belews Street neighborhoods, is through the annual Juneteenth celebration. Juneteenth, or National Freedom Day, is a celebration of the country’s longest-running observance of the abolition of slavery. It commemorates the day when slaves in the last geographic area in America where slavery existed learned of their freedom. Every year, the Innovation Quarter welcomes Juneteenth, its organizer Triad Cultural Arts and sponsors from around the city to the Innovation Quarter, where the community enjoys the rich African American cultural traditions through African dance, R&B and Jazz music, cooking demonstrations, crafts demonstrations, area speakers, health education, readings, and more.

This year, Juneteenth will take place on Saturday, June 19, 2021. It may look a little different because of COVID, with a reduced in-person version of the festival that will include small group performances and vendors in Bailey Park; still, it will be a joyous celebration of Black history and culture. Stay tuned for details!

7. The Feeling Friends at Bailey Park

Karen Cuthrell, Founder of The Feeling Friends

The Feeling Friends is an evidence-based, culturally inclusive social-emotional learning program that teaches children to identify, express and manage their feelings. Alongside local organizations, they’re raising $200,000 to provide Kimberley Park Elementary School, where The Feeling Friends first conducted and implemented social and emotional learning research, with the first Social & Emotional Learning Playground in the United States. The school’s current outdated pre-kindergarten playground no longer serves the school’s number of students, and it will soon be a more equitable place where children can learn about their emotions and have fun.

To address this need, this March, The Feeling Friends recorded a concert at Bailey Park as part of its fundraising campaign to raise money for this project. To help, donate to The Feeling Friends Island at Kimberley Park Elementary and make equitable play for equitable health a reality for these children.

Learn more about inclusion and diversity in the Innovation Quarter.