small talks: LA

safe space





ABOUT small talks: LA

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A Designing in Color collaboration, small talks:LA is a project created to assemble a network of people and construct safe spaces to amplify the disparate voices of Los Angeles. Through organizing events, workshops, and activities that disrupt the everyday, small talks:LA looks to leverage the expertise of the group to create opportunities for change.

The growing collective of architects, artists, activists, city planners, and developers are applying their expertise to make Los Angeles more equitable through the following strategies:

  • Support the long-standing advocacy work already being done in the city

  • Create safe space for difficult, but necessary, conversations

  • Create opportunity for exchange between diverse neighborhoods

  • Record & elevate stories from marginalized voices in Los Angeles

  • Connect activists in a community with individuals that want to leverage their skillsets and get involved.

  • Organize with existing neighborhoods initiatives to amplify opportunities for change



Kirstin was born and raised in Seattle’s diverse South End neighborhood to new-age hippie parents, she grew up with a passion for art, the environment, and a deep love for her community - from Pista sa Nayon every summer, to shabbat dinners with her neighbors, to Bicycle Sunday, and marching in the MLK Day parade with mom. In 2010, new and car-less in Los Angeles, Kirstin became heavily involved in the bike community and in active transportation advocacy, which led to working on a city council campaign and volunteering with Ghost Bikes, placing memorials for cyclists killed in the streets. Some of her most formative experiences in community healing have been the Tyree Scott Freedom School (learning a deeper analysis about racism and systems of oppression), and her research on the United Nation’s principle of Free, Prior and Informed Consent as an inalienable right for indigenous communities. Kirstin will continue to focus on issues of advocacy and community-building as she enters law school in the Fall of 2019. 

Michael De Leon is a Los Angeles-based Project Manager, born and raised in the Philippines with a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Engineering. He formerly worked with G.E. and was part of the Lean Six Sigma - Kaizen Team initiatives back in 2014. His projects include Project Lifescarf <>, an organization that helps raise awareness on different ways to help children in need of medical attention. He partnered with Children’s Hospital Los Angeles on this project. Michael also founded Project Legato and successfully launched and managed the Legato Art Studios in the Arts District from 2016-2018. This project helped creatives in the local community have work space at a fraction of the price of current market rents, and allowed them to flourish in the arts industry. During this time, Michael hosted a variety of fund raising events in Santa Monica and Downtown Los Angeles, where part of the proceeds went to organizations that he supports and believes in deeply. Being involved with creatives and designers in the local community made Michael one of the co-founders of Small Talks. 


Christopher is a designer at ZGF Architects where he is currently working on renovation of a mid-century modern building on the Cal-State LA Campus. In addition to his role as a designer, Christopher co-coordinates the office’s Diversity Inclusion Advocacy Group (DIAG), which aims to create impact and change for the office work environment. For SoCal NOMA, he video-documents the chapter’s work and has helped plan the most recent NOMA Summer camp. In Los Angeles, he is actively studying the homelessness crisis by designing concepts for accessory dwelling units and was recently a speaker at the AIA Design for Dignity Conference about the city’s housing crisis.

Jonathan is designer at ZGF Architects and a recent transplant to Los Angeles by way of Louisiana, having earned his Master of Architecture degree at Tulane University. Along with the Designing in Color team, Jonathan is the co-founder of small talks: LA, a community-based coalition supporting both existing initiatives and impactful opportunities for changes in underrepresented communities. By assembling a network of people and constructing safe spaces to amplify the disparate voice of Los Angeles, the platform has organized progressive and catalytic conversations.