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.
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.