Thursday, July 8, 2010

A Place for Great Ideas

When you create a place and ample time for the public to develop their own ideas for future development, amazing things happen.  To the right is the poster we put up around town in the fall showing an aerial view of part of the commercial intersection residents were invited to re-visualize. It gives the web address where people could explore the area 'virtually' using Second Life as well as a date for an all-day Community Forum at Town Hall. 

And below are 51 'visions' people came up with! We found people liked working hands-on when it came to elaborating their vision- rather than on the computer (which was also an option) to develop their own thoughts. People spent more time on this and were more interested than any of us expected. In keeping with Open-Neighborhood philosophy that the public has much to teach, we didn't give much instruction, just handed out 11" x 17" boards showing roads alone, an aerial map of the area, and easy-to-cut colored craft material.  The great thing about an exercise like this is that it engages people age 4 to 80.

Here's the winning board, BTW:

In the spring we invited everyone to see all these results up at Town Hall (we learned that people will show up to see their work on display) and to vote on their favorite board.  The winning entry above has ample sidewalks (in pink), buildings close to the street (not the way most are now) and a bike path (in red) to connect with a  proposed rail trail. At a glance it shows hierarchy and order, which current conditions lack, and suggests a new zoning approach for the future.

Separately the Tufts team, lead by Prof. Hollander, created a rubric to analyze all the public work and found this board expresses values common to many.  A central one was the public's desire to make this car-centric area truly pedestrian friendly and focused.  A final report with all the Tufts findings may be seen here.

We'll look at more of the public work in a future post, and show how story-telling and narrative appears to figure in many of them.