Green Streets, a local non-profit dedicated to employing ex-cons and disenfranchised community members, invited us to help them activate their local park, which has been beset by drug and gang activity for a generation. The Trust for Public Land provided a grant to implement this activation.
Our team was committed to engaging the community in a participatory design process that would truly give community leaders and participants a sense of ownership over the outcome. To do this, I modified a traditional design process to include an inspiration image exercise (upper right image); 2D drawing and collages; 3D model making; and, a one-to-one onsite prototyping event (lower left image). Community members were central to the outcome of these iterations. Also, given the quick timeline, tight budget and sensitive political environment, I devised a strategy of armatures, or "skeletal blank slates", that could be fabricated by our team while the community moved the design process forward. These armatures were then populated based on the community's design.
This project had a profound impact both on our team and our institution, the Exploratorium. Over a year and a half after opening day, the community was still using this activation to rally their neighbors around a common cause (lower right image).