Learning from Communities

Here is the rundown from another great SFI panel discussion:

Brent Brown, bcWORKSHOP

“HOW DO I GET CITY OFFICIALS ON BOARD WITH OUR WORK?

I USE GUILT.

I ASK WHY THEY ARE WILLING TO PROVIDE SERVICES FOR TOTHER NEARBY GROUPS BUT NOT THIS ONE.

I KEEP ASKING QUESTIONS AND MAKE SURE TO HAVE ANSWERS TO THEIR OBJECTIONS BEFORE THEY CAN MAKE THEM.  I CORAL IN A LOT OF PRO BONO ADVISORS.

BUT MOSTLY … GUILT.”

bcWORKSHOP (and I do mean the whole studio, who came up together from Texas on the train) was at SFI to present their Congo Street initiative- an urban revitalization project on a historically black street in Dallas which they have been working with over the last few years.  Little more than an alley, the street had been overlooked by city planners and ignored by the crews which repaired the roadway and sewer systems of streets on either side but it had a strong community of residence and high housing density that could be a model for other developments.

The bcWORKSHOP focused on keeping the families in place, protecting the neighborhood community with a “holding house” that each household on the street could move into temporarily while their own house was re-habed or replaced.  They used and Out-Of-Studio design process that stressed listening to the residents and really designing to support their needs.

After some wait-and-see conservatism on the part of the officials, the city has now gotten on board and has agreed to redo the street with a pervious paving surfacesand specialized plantings to accommodate its narrow width.

Bottom line: Design Justice Comes Through Community Engagement

DCDC

Dan Pitera, Detroit Collaborative Design Center

“ONCE PEOPLE HAVE A TASTE OF THE PARTICIPATORY PROCESS, THEY JUST CAN’T GET ENOUGH.”

The DCDC uses the model of a teaching hospital with a combined staff of students and professionals to render quality services to the community.

Pitera pointed out how frustrating it is to work in a design ecosystem where so much of the available pool of design services go to the very few with money to pay for them.  I liked his graphic to demonstrate it (which I have reproduced here).

‘GUIDE ON THE SIDE’ vs. ‘SAGE ON A STAGE.’

BaSiC Initiative

Sergio Palleroni: BaSiC Initiative

“WE NEED TO MAKE SURE THAT ALL OF THESE COOL NEW DESIGN IDEAS ACTUALLY WORK FOR PEOPLE.”

To that end Palleroni used this flow chart for ideas.  I particularlary like “Does it work for humans?” which is a question that doesnt’ get asked enough in design.

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