On the morning of May 26, I casually walked into the kitchen at home and my partner told me that I needed to watch the news. “Another Black man has been killed by police officers,” he said, and then proceeded to show me the video of the murder of George Floyd. I stood there watching the horrifying images, and as I did, I became overwhelmed with emotion. I sat down in the kind of disbelief that can only come from knowing I was witnessing an innocent man’s life being taken by extreme and brutal force. I felt helplessness, anger and extreme sadness. But more than that, I was gripped by an overwhelming shame.
When my partner first told me what had happened, my immediate thought was, “I wonder what he was doing to get himself killed?” My reaction almost made me physically ill. And then I recalled that this had been my default response to so many other unnecessary deaths. In that moment, I questioned my character. What kind of person am I? What have I been doing?
At the beginning of 2020, I, like so many others, was looking forward to a great year and decade. I had plans for positive and exciting changes in my business and personal life. Although I knew it would be filled with a lot of hard work followed by much reward including my retirement, I knew it was coming and I anticipated its arrival with great optimism.
Then the pandemic became reality, and I found my plans turned upside down. I prioritized with the Principals of the firm to make decisions on how to proceed with business and take care of our team and clients. That became the new focus, and we had it under control. I was all set with a new plan of action.
Newberry Architecture is a small firm, and our team is a culturally diverse group of men and women of different races, sexual orientations and religions. After the senseless killing of George Floyd, we all agreed that we had an obligation to take a stand against racism. They gave me their unanimous support to write this piece as the founder of the firm.
With that, I am speaking from my heart and a place of love for my fellow humans – and for all of humankind.
Considering George Floyd’s tragic death and my initial reaction to it, I was in total conflict. Certainly, I am not a racist. How could I be? My partner is Dominican and Lebanese. I helped build an orphanage and school in Kenya. My best friend Horace was a Black man. Horace and I did everything together for over 10 years before kidney failure took him. We had many discussions about racism, and I experienced and witnessed firsthand the racist actions taken against us as friends and against him as an individual.
But it’s not quite that easy, is it? Did I experience racism with my best friend or did I simply observe it? How could I have such conflicting thoughts and actions? Is this part of systemic racism? I have so many questions and so much to learn.
What I do know is this: We have a problem with racism and the marginalization and oppression of people in our country and around the world. We all know children are not born racist. Racism is learned, and we will not stop it until we address systemic racism. It is time for a change. I am going to start with a self-audit so I can be part of this change.
I look at myself and realize that I have only stood up against racism within my own family. Otherwise, I have mostly remained silent. I have cut people out of my life that were racist, but I never did anything to change their hearts or to show them the pain they were causing. I took the easy path without conflict and never really made a difference. I have not stood up enough or done enough to fight racism. I have experienced prejudices against me my entire life, but I have never experienced racism. I have only observed it. I am a white man who for the most part stayed silent behind – and protected by – the color of my skin. I thought I was doing enough, but I wasn’t. I was actually asleep.
I am awake now and alive with a new awareness. I realize that my plans and ambitions for 2020 and the new decade were too small and self-centered. This is so much bigger than I could have ever imagined, and it is certainly bigger than me. I am hopeful the world is about to change. I am again reminded that I am just a grain of sand in God’s big plan. I understand there is immense anger, pain and suffering across our country and around the world. Racism and Covid-19 are part of a global pandemic that has polarized and divided us in ways we have not seen in a long time.
I trust God must have a plan to bring us back together. History has proven that change always comes after a tragedy. I will be part of the change by supporting and participating in peaceful protest. I will educate myself and others. And most of all, I will no longer remain silent.
Martin Luther King Jr. said, “The time is always right to do what is right.”
It’s time. Great changes are on the horizon, and I trust we will all find unity through acceptance, compassion and love to become active participants in driving those changes, both as individuals and as a society. Racism must end. The team at Newberry Architecture is ready to do whatever we can, however we must, to eliminate racism.
– Ken Newberry
Each year families wrap up their summers and prep for the new school year. While many parents are clearing the aisles of target with carts full of school supplies, other families are not as fortunate. We decided to join forces with Marie Flanigan Interiors to collect supplies for a local school in need.
The staff at Benbrook Elementary are an amazing group of inspirational educators! They are leading our youth to a successful future and we are beyond EXCITED to assist in their determination and drive for a hopeful tomorrow. We would like to thank all of our friends who supported us!
The Shade Shop
SES Design Group
Keith Huckabay Photography
Wynne Walker Group
photos by Keith Huckabay Photography
Summer is coming to an end and school is right around the corner! Our Newberry Cares Team is partnering with Marie Flanigan Interiors to support the HISD School Supply Drive and we need your help!
We contacted HISD to find a school that the students could really benefit from our donations. We were directed to Benbrook Elementary School, and we have to say we are thrilled to be supporting the bears! This school shows amazing support to their students and even after being impacted by Hurricane Harvey, the school rallied together to keep their students on track!
Please join us in our efforts to donate school supplies to Benbrook! Drop off locations include our office along with Marie Flanigan Interior’s office! Donations will be accepted through Friday, August 10th!
When our Team went on the hunt for our next Newberry Cares event, Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center stole our hearts with their amazing passion for providing a safe supply of blood to the community. We partnered with our neighbors, Gallant Builders , to host a blood drive in Portwest parking lot. Katie Nippress, our coordinator at Gulf Coast, was a huge help in planning the event- she truly loves what she does! The world needs more Katie Nippress in it!
After an afternoon of donations from the Newberry office, the Gallant team, our amazing vendors and family members… we contributed 25 pints of blood and over $300 in cash to Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center. It is a very small gesture to the massive 1,000 pints of blood they need daily to meet the community’s need. We hope you will take a moment to visit their website and maybe schedule time to donate!
While every child deserves to feel the joy of receiving a new toy on Christmas morning, so many disadvantaged families do not have the opportunity to provide gifts for their children. Partnering with Toys for Tots was an amazing opportunity for the Newberry Cares Team to collect new, unwrapped toys for the organization. Within two weeks, our team was able to meet our goal of filling the Toys for Tots box! Thank you to the Toys for Tots organization and Marine Corps for creating the opportunity for the Newberry Cares Team, and our generous donors, to give back to our local community of children!
Even in the busy lives of architects and designers, there’s time to celebrate. This month, Houston’s premier architecture firm Newberry Architecture brought together more than 150 architects, designers, and clients to celebrate the reveal of their new brand.
The new brand was in development for more than a year and included a new logo and website.
“We put out a soft launch of the new brand in July, and the response has been astounding,” said firm Principal Gina Brown. “Our new logo is much more timeless and artistic. The entire brand now mirrors the class of work our team creates.”
The new brand comes at a time when the Newberry Architecture leadership team has grown to include three additional principals: Gina Brown, Clint Johnson, and Jorge Carranza, who join founder Ken Newberry.
“This year marks the 20th anniversary of Newberry Architecture,” said Carranza. “We started as a small firm working out of a house, and today we’re a team of more than 20. We’ve added commercial projects to our portfolio, and we’re adding structural engineering to our services. The rebrand came at the perfect time, just as we were broadening our vision as a firm.”
The early years of the firm, a pair of Newberry’s first clients were Ray and Kara Childress, who were also in attendance at the launch event. In the past two decades, the firm has worked on multiple projects for the Childresses, with each new project reflecting the firm’s evolving style and skill.
“When I first met the Childress family, the firm was still working out of my house,” said Ken Newberry. “Since then, we’ve grown so much in both technical skills and artistic vision. Over the next year, our newest projects will showcase this even more so.”
The firm’s new logo combines soft colors with clean lines. It’s simultaneously contemporary and classic, which is what gives Newberry international appeal. The firm’s projects range from traditional to modern. Newberry has completed a variety of projects across the U.S. and abroad in a wide range of styles.
“Our clients come to us because of our portfolio—They see what we’re capable of and the level of work we create,” said Clint Johnson. “They stay and work with us again and again because of our level of professionalism and attention to detail. Our new brand reflects that.”
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