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My Future, My City – My City, My Future
The main facets of this program are to guide students open their scope of observation and analysis of their neighborhoods for deeper intellectual growth and to uncover how they can participate in active, conscious city making. They delve into self-discovery, discuss contested terms that are oftentimes taken for granted, community exploration, and collaborative active response. These elements combined provide space to consider how to bring various groups of people together in multiple ways to be a part of co-designing the city during a critical period of revitalization.
Within an educational setting, co-designing takes place by curating an enriching environment to participate in a community of practice – where students work with urban practitioners (adults in the field) in areas they are interested in exploring as a part of redevelopment research, plans, and implementation. This can range from, but not limited to, researching conceptual ideas of repurposing spaces, designing and prototyping multiple types of business proposals, physical construction of new types of spaces, and also designing needed services within a community. By participating in such social practices that impact their lives, they learn and develop their social membership into the urban realm and become equipped with the tools and skills to negotiate their space within the ever-changing city.
One of the activities students prototyped was “Dream Catching”- a globally successful and creative approach to engaging a wide collection of people’s dreams to inform imagining an alternative future. Dream.In is a methodology that has been conducted in India, China, and Brazil, and this activity was a condensed start.
Student in Action (Practice)
Students participated in a short workshop prior to collecting people’s dreams in the “field.” Part of the workshop focused on technical skill development on how to videotape on their phone looking at the rule of thirds, lighting composition, background, steadiness, sound, and so on. The second part of the workshop was how to start a conversation about city concerns to help the interviewee feel comfortable to discuss other things. The students were required to ask for permission to videotape or voice record the interviewees’ dreams of the future to share publicly. In the interviewing it was imperative for students to practice guiding responses from material dreams to higher aspirations to consider deeper values. The workshops would normally take longer and the interviews would be more in-depth for a fuller picture.
In practice, students began with interviewing each other, then friends and family, and some interviewed people they didn’t know at all. In its current form, it is hosted in a landing page on the People Chronicles website to be viewed by anyone who visits.
The hope is to continue to ‘catch dreams’ of city residents to both publicly display and also use in ideation workshops. These workshops would be held with multiple levels of stakeholders (such as the dream catchers, city residents, policy makers, business community, entrepreneurs, investors, designers, etc..) to design services and social enterprises that address the needs and future aspirations of many. This approach can help shift the paradigm of how information is collected about the present needs and assets, from whom this information is collected, and to what end for the future of many people for a deeper holistic approach to city revitalization considerations.