Engaging diverse participants

One goal of Creative CityMaking is to engage traditionally underepresented communities in planning processes. Artist Diane Willow describes her experiences working on the Southwest Light Rail Transit (SWLRT) Transitional Station Area Action Plan (TSAAP). And artist Ashley Hanson comments on keeping momentum with the community members who have engaged with the projects she and Wing Young Huie have instigated.

DIANE WILLOW: I continue to seek genuine nodes of influence for everyday people. How can we, the artist and planners, facilitate experiences in which people can gain awareness of and insight into the proposed SWLRT and share their perspectives such that we can make their insights available for consideration in the decision-making processes. Our focus, as planners and artist, continues to be on access. I approach this as physical access, perceived/conceptual access, cultural access.

Reduced to tallying representation in the meetings that I have attended, to date I need less than the five fingers of one hand to count the number of people of color present in the sum of all of these meetings. People present with mobility limitations are not apparent. The spectrum of professionals devoting their work life to the SWLRT TSAAP are within an adult age spectrum that by necessity makes us less conscious of infants, children, and youth as well as people above the age of seventy.

 
Youth from a Redeemer Lutheran Church summer camp take the Caterpillar for a walk. Artist Diane Willow asked the youth for their opinions on the proposed Southwest Light Rail Transit station just blocks from Redeemer Lutheran Church in the Harrison neighborhood.

Youth from a Redeemer Lutheran Church summer camp take the Roving Green Line for a walk. Artist Diane Willow asked the youth for their opinions on the proposed Southwest Light Rail Transit station just blocks from Redeemer Lutheran Church in the Harrison neighborhood.

 
ASHLEY HANSON: Recognizing the limited time that we have to work on this project (only 6 months to go!), we have started to see our interactions and engagements as a kind of gateway to getting the community excited about participating in city planning; to get them thinking about what they do want, and ways that they can express those wants to impact change. With many of our participants, our engagement is the first time they have participated in the planning process. We hope that through our approach they realize that it is not an intimidating process, that they have significant ideas to contribute, and hopefully, that they now know they can continue to engage and have an impact on the future of their community.

So, even if all of the strategies that we unroll over the course of the next six months do not find a life of their own after this contracted period, we do hope that those who have participated might find a way to continue engaging with the planning process. Again, we will not be able to know this until after the project ends, but in the meantime, we will work from the “top” and the “bottom” (so to speak) to try to create a long-lasting effect on the kinds of community engagement happening in our city.

 
Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s