Toward the Sunrise of Beautifully Intelligent Systems



Design for the Commons is a worker cooperative that builds a world with more cooperative humans through urban development and placemaking projects. We know that meaningful relationships are central to a vibrant life and more resilient communities. We provide communities with tools that increase engagement, belonging, and agency within a neighborhood. These tools are sustainable, budget friendly, and low maintenance.

The key to our interventions is a multi-sensory approach. We believe that fostering trust and wellness within communities should be interactive and creative. Visit our toolkit page to learn how to build deeper connections within your community.


We are building customizable systems of belonging anywhere there is community. We know that through sharing, pooling, and exchanging resources meaningful experiences will follow.


How do we do this?

Through urban development and placemaking projects we design structures and systems that reimagine the commons. We co-create with artists, activists, and community leaders to create a direct line between needs and access. The tools and templates we provide are intended to be implemented and adapted  based on the needs of the community.

With community led evaluation, along with our clients, we collectively recognize patterns, growth opportunities, and assets. At the end of this process, we create a physical environment embedded with systems that make care and trust a predictable outcome. Contact us to see how we could be of service to your community or city.

Who We Are

Ebony Gustave

Ebony has been experientially learning ways to build self-sufficiency, community resilience, and  be of service throughout her travels. She has taught permaculture to children, researched and documented wild edible plants, helped create national campaigns around sustainable agriculture, and is the founder of Cooperative Journal. The common thread between all of her work is bringing awareness of alternatives to our current system that is harmonious with nature, people-centered, and empowers us to take control over our own agency.

Malikia Johnson


Malikia’s work is prismatic - angling between placemaking, design, and the brilliance of the commons. She is the founding co-creator of the Take Care of Each Other World Tour. An archiving project that interviews architects, engineers, farmers, and cooperative business owners about their sustainable visions of the future. She has been involved in cooperative and community development projects around the country for the past five years. A couple of organizations she has worked with include the Black Arts District in Baltimore, Repaired Nations, Inside Airbnb, and the Grassroots Economic Organizing Collective.

Ajowa Ifateyo


Ajowa co-founded the Ella Jo Baker Intentional Community Cooperative in Washington, DC in 2002. In 2003, she was elected to the board of the Eastern Conference on Workplace Democracy where she served for nine years. She is also a founding member of the U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives where she participated for eight years. She continues to do cooperative organizing in Washington, D.C. and is a long time social activist,  journalist, and worker cooperative developer.



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