Cultivated Justice: A Model for Place-based Community Building

Open Access
Johnson, Katherine Banks
Area of Honors:
Bachelor of Architecture
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Darla V Lindberg, Thesis Supervisor
  • James Gill Cooper, Honors Advisor
  • Mushroom
  • farmworkers
  • humanitarian
  • housing
  • architecture
  • design
  • material
  • dignity
  • migrant
In 1776, the founding fathers established America based on the inalienable human rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We pride ourselves on being part of a democratic and capitalistic system, where freedom reigns. However, we know all too well the bleak reality of exploitation and exceptionalism in our country, beginning with the abuse of natives, and continuing with immigrant workers today. The passage of the National Labor Relations Act in 1930s ensured acceptable living standards for industrial workers, but this act excluded agricultural workers. It was not until the late 1970s that some NLRA provisions extended to select farmworkers. Virtually all legislation during the New Deal period excluded agricultural workers, including laws that regulated workplace safety, minimum wage, child labor, and maximum working hours. Even today, most farmworkers live beyond the reaches of modern labor laws, especially immigrant workers. Despite the growing profits of American agribusinesses, farmworkers continue to live in unacceptable conditions, cut off from their families, culture, and dignity. The well being of humanity should be our fist priority as a society and as architects. My thesis provides migrant mushroom farmworkers in Kennett Square, PA with shelter, community, inter-generational sustainability, and dignity. I believe in a systemic model that can intervene in the retrograding cycle of worker exploitation, and create hope and dignity for these agricultural workers.