During the thesis year, Lyric Kelkar built a long-lasting relationship with Inclusive Action for the City, a laboratory for innovative community development initiatives based in Boyle Heights, Los Angeles. Lyric’s thesis project contributed to the organization and the Boyle Heights community, providing recommendations for a new initiative using shared ownership to prevent the displacement of local businesses that support community identity and stability.
After earning a BA in Urban Studies and Planning at UC San Diego, Lyric volunteered and worked in many areas to explore different paths and possibilities for her future. Her experience in public works consulting and policy advocacy led her to enroll in the MS Design and Urban Ecologies program.
During her graduate studies, Lyric gained valuable knowledge on urban theory and methods, as well as practical skills to develop design strategies and to engage in community practice. “What I liked about the program is its critical approach and the way it combines education and practice. Most programs separate the two while this program focuses on centering the voice of the community. I also enjoyed getting a wide range of theories and different ways to approach the urban practice, including critical theory.”
Lyric received an internship position at Inclusive Action for the City (previously known as Leadership for Urban Renewal Network) during the program, right before starting her thesis year. The relationship with this organization blossomed into a partnership during her thesis. She contributed to a feasibility study on community property ownership in Boyle Heights, an immigrant community with a predominantly Spanish speaking population. The study, which included research, analysis, and community engagement, became the base for an actual project which uses shared ownership to prevent the displacement of local economies in a neighborhood that is increasingly facing gentrification. From this project, other innovative initiatives developed, including one involving a curriculum to train small and legacy businesses to become part owners in the system of shared ownership.
Lyric is a Senior Associate of Policy and Research at the Inclusive Action for the City, where she produces research on issues impacting under-served communities across Los Angeles. She applies a design-thinking approach to challenges in the built environment and drives equitable policy and community development solutions.