James Rojas

James Rojas is an urban planner, community activist, educator, and artist who runs the planning, model-building, and community-outreach practice Place It!. Through Place It!, he has developed an interdisciplinary, community-healing, visioning, and outreach process that uses storytelling, objects, art-production, and play to help improve the urban-planning outreach process. He is now an international expert in public engagement and has traveled around the US, Mexico, Canada, Europe, and South America, facilitating over 500 workshops, and building over 100 interactive models. His research has appeared in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Dwell, Places, and in numerous books. Relevant areas of expertise include using model-building as a means of community and planning outreach; working with underserved, disadvantaged communities and bringing overlooked voices to the planning discussion; making the physical form of cities relevant to broad audiences; and understanding how immigrants—especially Latino immigrants—see and understand urban and suburban space in the US and why they oftentimes reshape those forms in the ways that they do.

Dream Play Build

Hands-On Community Engagement for Enduring Spaces and Places

The room is dim, the chairs are in perfectly lined rows. The city planner puts up a color-coded diagram of the street improvement project, dreading the inevitable angry responses. Jana loves her community and is glad to be able to attend the...