aak'w village arts+culture district

In 2021, the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council (JAHC), with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, invited KDI to the City of Juneau to help develop a series of recommendations for the newly named Aak’w Village District. Working together with local businesses, the Central Council of the Tlingit & Haida Tribes of Alaska, the City of Juneau, and local artists, we were tasked with rethinking how planning documents like these were put together and how they could more directly serve the community—prioritizing voices that had not been actively brought to the table in the past.


Present day map of Juneau, Alaska
Originally the summer village of the Aak’w Kwáan clan, the Aak’w Village District has a long and often traumatic history of displacement and development—but it has also become the home to cultural institutions like the Alaska State Museum, the Zach Gordon Youth Center, and small Juneauite-owned businesses. By looking at and understanding the history of this land and the people that live, work, and play there, we began to imagine how to build an equitable future through rethinking how the district could look, feel, and serve the Juneau community.


Visioning session at the Zach Gordon Youth Center
Our team led a robust community engagement process, with activities ranging from community mapping to developing shared timelines with high school students to creating a common understanding of the history and future of Juneau. We worked alongside a steering committee of tribal members, artists, and small business owners as we sought out diverse perspectives and a rich understanding of place.


Juneau residents participating in an engagement activity
Our community engagements informed the creation of an advocacy “zine” to serve as an approachable, living planning document. We prioritized narrative and process over solutions-driven data to speak to everyday readers and uplift the multi-cultural and rich community of Juneau. You can access the full zine here.


Our ultimate goal is to create a plan that doesn't just sit on a shelf—we want this plan to be alive, respond to the community, and evolve over time. Creating this vision for the Aak'w Village District is like walking a journey together, and you will see tools throughout the booklet to bring the reader’s voice into the journey as well.