A Year of Impact in 2021

January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Awareness Month.

Over the last year, the Grace Farms Foundation’s Justice Initiative and Design for Freedom have collaborated towards the disruption of forced labor, human trafficking, and its illicit supply chain.

Capacity Building and Training 

In 2021, Grace Farms hosted a Cyber Crime Symposium, in collaboration with Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). The symposium brought together more than 200 law enforcement professionals representing over 40 different agencies across five states. The event was designed to share information and best practices in a shared commitment to identifying criminals who use the dark web for crimes ranging from bank fraud to human trafficking. The Symposium was the latest outcome of a long-standing partnership between Grace Farms Foundation and HSI.

In addition, Grace Farms partnered with other foundations and organizations to advance this work. Our Justice Initiative contributed to the Equanimity Foundation’s Inclusive Discourse on Human Trafficking and partnered with the Lumos Foundation on a task force to address human trafficking in Haiti. We also led the new way of combatting crime by raising awareness of crime convergence in order for law enforcement and other relevant stakeholders to better understand, unify, and target the problem with an intelligence driven approach.

Impacting Policy 

Justice Initiative Deputy Director Alina Reynolds gave testimony before the CT Senate Judiciary committee in support of the amended vacatur language in An Act Concerning Human Trafficking. This language recognizes that trafficking victims are not responsible for criminal activity in which they were forced to engage. This law is an important step to helping trafficking survivors.

Accelerating Design for Freedom 

Design for Freedom is working to end the humanitarian issue of forced labor in building materials supply chains. Over the past 12 months, the movement has continued to grow. The Design for Freedom Working Group now comprises more than 80 leaders of the built environment who are designing and building a more humane future.

Partnerships with colleges and universities 

Our CEO and Founder Sharon Prince presented to 14 colleges and universities around the country about Design for Freedom. Through our collaborations with these leading institutions, Grace Farms Foundation is educating the next generation of leaders on the issue of forced labor in building materials.

Class on slavery and the built environment

Taught across the two campuses via distance-learning technology in Fall 2021, Slavery and its Legacies in the Built Environment is a joint Problem Solving Initiative class of the Michigan Law School and the Yale School of Architecture, with support from the Yale Law School. The seminar did the legal, historical, architectural precedent, and project delivery planning for a National Slavery Memorial in Washington DC, rethinking memorialization and confronting historical and modern slaveries while challenging architectural and design practice.  In Spring 2022, the class outputs will be used as the framework document for an Advanced Studio at Yale School of Architecture which will move the project to the design stage. Select students from the seminar will continue their work, serving as consultants to the Studio.  In their course design, the instructors (Michigan’s Ambassador Luis CdeBaca and Yale’s Dean Phil Bernstein) drew from a wide range of disciplines and materials, including the Grace Farms Design for Freedom report.

Design for Freedom Digest

Grace Farms launched the Design for Freedom Digest, an informative newsletter with eye-opening reports, news stories, and notes milestones made toward responsible progress within the architectural, engineering and construction industry supply chains. The Digest is another tool in raising awareness of these critical issues and providing tools for action.

A partnership to raise awareness and grow the movement

As a part of Design for Freedom, Grace Farms partnered with Working Group member Herman Miller and Design Within Reach to retail an ethically-manufactured face mask that launched last January. Designed in collaboration with architects Shohei Yoshida, Principal of shohei yoshida + associates / sy+a and formerly of SANAA, and Peter Miller, Founding Partner of Palette Architecture and formerly of Handel Architects, the Design for Freedom face mask is inspired by the roof of Grace Farms’ iconic River building, that reflects light differently throughout the day and in response to the weather. In addition to the sale of the ethically produced mask, Herman Miller and Design Within Reach made a donation to help advance the Design for Freedom movement. These partnerships demonstrate the difference we can collectively make when we work together to confront pressing humanitarian issues.

Looking Ahead

2022 promises to be an equally compelling and accomplished year with the launch of new pilot projects and the first ever Design for Freedom Summit in March.