A Dream Coming to Life


We were blown away this weekend to win Make DC’s Designing Dreams competition. Of course, we are thrilled that our dream of a new healing garden as a gateway to Joseph’s House took a huge step forward. As the winner, Joseph’s House will receive $20,000 worth of donated design services to envision and design a fully accessible and welcoming healing garden in the 1,500 square feet surrounding the house.tulips

In some ways, even more exciting was the opportunity to be a part of a larger conversation about the incredible work being done by local non-profits to heal and revitalize parts of our city that are really hurting and the ways in which design can play a meaningful role in supporting and furthering those efforts.

Make DC is the passion of two young architects – Scott Walzak and Greg Wilkie – who believe that design can and should be used to lift up people and communities. This is their inaugural Designing Dreams competition and the variety and quality of entries the competition elicited speak to the great work being done by the non-profit community and the role design can play in addressing some of the community’s biggest challenges.


The presenters from the Latin American Youth Center.

At Saturday’s Pitch Night, we joined six other finalists in presenting our design dream in a concise and visual format that allowed each group to tell their story. The room had a palpable sense of possibility and positive energy. All of the groups were so excited about the work they are already doing and about the opportunity to do even more. As a group focused on homelessness and health care, we don’t often have the chance to be with colleagues working on different, but equally compelling projects—colleagues who in many ways are working “upstream” from us so that many more District residents have expanded opportunities and a sense of their own possibilities.

We were also moved that so many members of our own Joseph’s House community attended – residents, volunteers, board members – and that at the end of our presentation one of our residents was moved to share the heart of his own experience of living and being healed at Joseph’s House.


The jury and contest organizers.

The jury included an interesting array of folks from the worlds of design, policy and community organizing. Members of the audience also voted for their favorite project as a part of the deliberations. Our hearts lifted when the organizers announced that after intensive conversations, we were both the unanimous selection of the jury members and the audience favorite. We were exhilarated to win, but also moved by conversations afterwards in which we heard that the audience and jury were touched deeply by the heart of Joseph’s House.

Through just the initial stages of this competition, our own vision of the potential for our garden to be a healing force in our lives and in the larger community has expanded tremendously. We are thrilled to work with Make DC to develop and refine our vision for the garden and to reach out and build the support necessary to move the design-to-come from vision to reality.

Dreaming of a Healing Garden from Joseph's House on Vimeo.



  1. Congratulations! You already bring much life to life. So much beauty awaits…. Great video, too!

  2. Kathy Pyne says

    Well done!

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