In Fields Corner, organizations that serve different ethnic communities rarely share resources. Why? These communities do not trust each other.
In 2016 Department of Play worked with two youth groups from different ethnic backgrounds.
Over five months, we worked with these community organizations to collaboratively design a public play space. Our goal was to facilitate the difficult but necessary conversations critical to making the neighborhood welcoming to all.
We met regularly at the public library, which neighborhood youth had identified as a neutral location.
We designed a curriculum that blended artistic and ethnographic exercises tailored for youth.
The curriculum aimed to walk teens through a people-centered design process that didn't constrain the youths' perspective, but instead amplified it.
Alongside the curriculum, we also carried out in-depth and walking interviews with adult residents, and we connected to businesses in the area that could contribute to the project.
The Play Space
The youth designed a public play date for neighbors to talk about where and how they feel comfortable or uncomfortable in their neighborhood.
On a rainy day in June 2016, in an insurance brokerage parking lot, the youth brought their vision to life.
The results of the play date:
- We built relationships among the youth.
- We contributed to the relationship of the two youth organizations (by the end of the process, we were using both their facilities).
- We contributed to the youth groups' ties to local businesses (as one participant put it, "We now know it's okay to ask permission to use privately owned public space.").