City’s Book of Play
Partner: Gehl, City of San José Mayor’s Office of Technology & Innovation
Funder: Knight Foundation
Brief: Design and demonstrate a novel approach to community engagement for sustainable urban mobility
Scope: 4-month project with 2 workshops and a 6-week place-based pilot
Youth Research Fellowship
Technology development and economic development share a contradiction rooted in colonialism: the people closest to the problem are farthest from resources needed to solve the problem. To challenge the normative approach of community engagement, we redirected a significant portion of the project funding to create a local youth fellowship program, where local youths would be recruited, hired, mentored, and empowered to lead the research process in their neighborhood.
As a part of the process, we turned a neighborhood park into a hub for community engagement. Here’s a quote from San José Inside article about one of the community events:
Communities aren’t usually able to give any more input than a “yes” or “no”—let alone contribute to nuanced discourse and design.
‘The origin of the project is the realization that in the context of emerging technologies, you need to have it ultimately serve everyone,” Cheung says. “You need to co-plan it with everyone in the very beginning. The challenge with representative democracy in these larger areas is that you have to have more effective measures to figure out how to do that, so you have to be strategic. When is the best time, where is the best place to meet people where they are, what are some questions to ask them such that that actually have direct input into real things that are happening in the city?”
She adds, “We need better models for collaboration.”