In this issue, we explore Women + Design by highlighting women designers, how design impacts women, and how equity, diversity, and inclusion learnings can improve the profession and the built environment. 

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June 9, 2021
Member News

Urban Space Fighting Asian Hate

By Sophia Lee | Urban Design Committee
Philadelphia Wing Chun Kung Fu School to the left and participants on the right. Photo by Sophia Lee

On Saturday, May 22, 2021, I was so fortunate to attend a free self-defense class organized by “Philly Fighting Asian Hate” and taught by the Philadelphia Wing Chun Kung Fu School. This group is the brainchild of Melissa Lee, founder and CEO of the Green Program, a sustainability-based travel business. 

Event Flyer by Philly Fighting Asian Hate
Event Flyer by Philly Fighting Asian Hate

As I learned to throw off would-be assailants and made new friends (“how did you meet?” – “oh, you know, she tried to choke me, and then I kicked her”), it struck me how The Rail Park is a perfect venue for this event: a once-bustling transportation corridor that became disused and deteriorated, now enjoying a renaissance of new life as a public park. Rather than fading away into Philly’s industrial past, this space tenaciously clawed its way back into relevance. This is especially true in the time of COVID, when folks may be uncomfortable to head back to indoor gyms just yet.

This event is a perfect example of how urban space can help support the AAPI community and fight Asian hate. More of this please, and many thanks to Philly Fighting Asian Hate for putting this together!

Read more about the event on the Philadelphia Inquirer: Amid anti-Asian violence, Philly community groups offer a weekend of free self-defense classes (

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