People make places… our week in Otradnoe

Author: Jona Piehl

Just back from Moscow where we hosted a workshop at Strelka Institute over the last week.

Together with 15 students from all kinds of professional backgrounds (just as we like it, from financial advisors and sociologists all the way to architects) we explored the district of Otradnoe in the north of Moscow — starting with a derive and ending with a grand finale where the students’ proposals around community building and strategies to facilitate communication and exchange were shared with the people of Otradnoe.

The group of people dressed up in red raincoats and A-Boards must have been a novel sight for a Thursday evening, and it was great to watch the level of engagement and interest from the audience.

Now, how can we sustain the momentum and maybe take some of the ideas further?

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72 Hour Urban Action takes over PECHATNIKI

First day of our workshop is about to take off to tour Pechatniki – an island neighbourhood in the south of Moscow. I’ll be playing with kids while the students look around and take us seriously. We challenged them with examining the relationship between video, urban interventions and community engagement. So stay tuned to what they come up with on these pages. Meanwhile – being new to Moscow will appriciate local tips on our facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/72HUA. Kisses from strelka studio 2. peace out.

Designing for Ownership – Day 6: Presentation

On the morning of the sixth and final day the teams finalized their prototypes and presentation materials. In the afternoon we went from Strelka to the park in Yuzhnoye Medvedkovo. Unfortunately there had been a bit of  miscommunication about the precise starting time of the event in the park. When we arrived at the amphitheater at around 15:00 the deputy of Uprava was already there, together with a small number of other interested people. She had understood 14:00 and she was not amused about our delay. Fortunately, she stayed and participated in the discussions during the presentations of the ideas and prototypes.

     

The workshop yielded quite a wealth of ideas and interventions, which I will describe here. As mentioned in the post about day 4, the two main problems that participants sought to address where:

1) lack of communication, and
2) lack of participation.

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Designing for Ownership – Day 5: Prototyping 2 + Testing

On the fifth day the participants continued to work on their prototypes in teams. The visit by some participants to Yuzhnoye Medvedkovo on the previous day resulted in some amendments to the prototypes. On this day several other team members went to the neighborhood together with Michiel to do some additional testing of their ideas and to arrange buying materials. To our surprise very few people in the park wanted to cooperate in the testing of the prototypes. On previous visits people seemed much more willing to engage in conversation. It could have been the early hour or the treat of thunder and heavy rain showers looming over Moscow. In any case it proved to be a good lesson in thinking about how to communicate to people in the neighborhood.

     

Day 3: Urban Hacking with Florian Riviere

Hello again!
Today was the 3rd day of the urban hacking workshop with Florian Riviere, and today we hacked Strelka. It’s possibly the best place for hacking in Moscow because ‘locals’ are more than willing to play and hop along)
Today was all about Florian’s trademark hacking: urban games. After a short briefing and brainstorming, we decided to transform Strelka’s wooden amphitheater into a racing track, the bins – into “basket rings”, the concrete stair landing – into a maze, and the parking lot – into a hopscotch game.
If you do not like any of this, do not worry – we didn’t use spray paint, only chalk and multicolored duck tape, so Strelka as you know it is safe =)

The racing track turned out to be hard to climb, but you really feel like a king of the mountain in the end – see Anna’s victorious dance in the video!

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Designing for Ownership – day 4: prototyping 1

On day four, the teams began working on actual prototypes for an intervention in the microrayon Yuzhnoye Medvedkovo. Two team each are taking up one main problem: lack of communication and lack of participation. In the early afternoon a group of landscape architecture students and a teacher from Wageningen University in the Netherlands, who are on a study trip to Moscow, dropped by for 2 hours to act as a kind of ‘special forces’ team that provided early feedback. Teams briefly introduced their interventions so far. Our Dutch visitors then gave some valuable feedback in the form of questions, suggestions and constructive criticism.

 

Several participants went to Yuzhnoye Medvedkovo together with Marc to test out their prototypes in the park along the Yauza river, where they want to situate their interventions. One of the signs reads “I could be your grandmother”. The plan of this team includes creating templates for people to make their own playful DIY signage in order to forge relationships between people and the park.

  

  

  

 

Designing for Ownership – day 3: analysis + ideation

On the third day of the workshop ’Designing for Ownership’ we proceeded with problem analysis and generation of ideas for the area. Teams prepared and presented their SWOT analysis of the most important issues in that neighborhood, and identified stakeholders, important locations, and media channels in use. Here’s the analysis of both the green team and grey team:

 

 

We decided to inverse our analysis of the underlying issues and the ideation phase, by starting with generating as many ideas as possible for the neighborhood, and then extracting an iterative analysis of the most important issues from these ideas. We figured that the (re)formulation of complex issues would naturally emerge from this creative thinking, instead of narrowing the bandwidth for ideation too much in advance by beginning with the analysis. That worked really well.

     

We identified five possible complex issues in Yuzhnoye Medvedkovo that should be addressed (see below). After that we wrapped up this very productive day by forming teams around these issues, and discussing what type of event would like to do on Saturday 14 July, the final day of the workshop.

Analysis of Problem

1. Phenomenon: lack of communication

Nothing is done when people complain about something.
Public bulletin boards are mostly official information by municipality; citizens cannot really contribute anything.

Analysis:
Lack of communication between actors.
Lack of feedback system: what is done with my complaint? (bureaucracy)
No room for own initiative, and no reward or incentive.
There are few venues for contributing your own ideas.

Possible solution:
Allow people to make something collectively in their neighborhood (‘commemorative objects’), e.g. a mural painting, a garden,
Allow people to contribute ideas via some medium and pinpoint ideas on a map.
Build a new pavilion where people can meet.
Reuse existing buildings, like libraries.

2. Phenomenon: vandalism

Vandalism of everything physical.

Analysis:
Lack of sense of ownership among people for environment.
Lack of responsibility of stakeholders.
Lack of regulation and consequent rapid action (of municipality).

Possible solution:
Make really solid stuff (but not so interesting)
‘Broken windows’: rapid repair.
Make people feel responsible (how..?)
Make park a living being by allowing it ‘to speak’ through data streams.
Have people (activists) act to solve problems themselves: stimulate DIY culture.
Moveable furniture ; deposit (small rent) system for furniture; “chair share”

3. Phenomenon: lack of infrastructure

There too little benches, trash bins, toilets, but also for social interaction between different people.
There is not much to do.

Analysis:
There is little in terms of (useful, interesting) objects, places or services for people to gather and make conversation.
People have little that they share with each other, like cultural events or media

Possible solution:
Organize an event to gather people and make them discuss issues they find important.
Periodical events in amphitheater, show propaganda films about doing good and collaboration.
Brand the neighborhood: “Rent-A-Tram”; “I Love Yuzhnoye Medvedkova” on bags from the local factory.

4. Phenomenon: policies represent people unequally

Almost all policy is directed towards children, old people, handicapped people, veterans, but not adults.
There is only one beer bar in the neighborhood.

Analysis:
Municipalities try to avoid touchy subjects and instead focuses on neutral topics.

Possible solution:
Create more bars and other places for adult (male) communality in the neighborhood; inclusive.
Have people themselves program spaces, e.g. dancing spaces, wedding space, morning sports.
Build parkour courses for teenagers on roofs.
Pop-up cafés in residential areas; run by local people.
Banya, sauna, etc.

5. Phenomenon: lack of participation

People seem to only want to do something for money, not out of free will.

Analysis:
There should be more cool activities to undertake, more room for entrepreneurship.

Possible solution:
Curate events together.
Some motivation or reward system for people who are active. Maybe through an area competition. ‘Citizen of the month’.
Signage with instructions for cleaning up (dog poo).
A kind of reciprocal non-monetary exchange circles between stakeholders, e.g. music school performing for veterans, who take care of security; or dog owners who meet with disabled people.

 

Designing for Ownership – day 2: research

  

The second day - research day - of the workshop ’Designing for Ownership’ was dedicated to fieldwork research in the area. Make and Shriya from Partizaning had done some excellent preparatory fieldwork, so we did have a pretty good idea of what to expect. In a sense this fieldtrip already was a follow-up research and second iteration. We started this second day with a brief introduction of how to do fieldwork research. Then we went together to Yuzhnoye Medvedkovo to get a better understanding of the neighborhood and talk to as many people as possible.

   

We split into two teams: one ‘green team’ that did research in the park, and a ‘grey team’ that did research in the residential area. These were the locations that we felt were the most important to pay attention to. The teams were instructed to do a SWOT analysis of the area: what are its present strong and weak points, and what are the potential future opportunities and threat for this neighborhood? They also had to collect as much information as possible about the various stakeholders in the area. We also talked to a very active neighborhood dwellers, Genya, who has been trying to realize change in Medvedkovo and contributed many ideas for improvement.

  

We used Google Maps to pinpoint issues to locations if possible. We also shared fieldwork notes and audio-visual media by using Google Drive. Click on the map below to go to the annotated map with some visual impressions:

Designing for Ownership – day 1: introduction

From 9 − 14 July 2012 the six-day workshop ’Designing for Ownership’ takes place at Strelka Institute in Moscow. The workshop is part of a series of Summer at Strelka workshops aimed at a practical change in the city’s microrayons. Our microrayon is called  Yuzhnoye Medvedkovo (south Medvedkovo).

This workshop aims to help create an actual long-lasting change for the better in an urban neighborhood in Moskow. This is done by bringing together creative workshop participants and various neighborhood stakeholders (citizens, local government, businesses, neighborhood organizations, and so on). The workshop aims to find out how these different people can communicate better with each other, by making a prototype for a product, an event, or a service that acts as a catalyst for conversation.

The workshop also aspires to create a methodology for activating citizens with the aid of digital media technologies that could also be applied elsewhere. How can we design a process that allows people to feel ‘ownership’ over their living circumstances, and actively participate in making their environment a better place?

On day one, introduction day, we met with the participants. Participants had received a workshop briefing (pdf) in advance. After we got to know each other, we presented an overview of the workshop’s aims and many examples of how digital media can be used to improve life in the city and to strengthen citizen engagement with their environment and each other. Below the presentation ‘Designing for Ownership: digital media and urban change’, by Michiel de Lange & Marc Tuters (2 MB).

Or check out the presentation on SlideShare [for some reason embedding does not work with this WP theme]:

Designing for Ownership workshop @Strelka Summerschool 2012

 

Ко-оперативный блог горожан,
Partizaning.org и института «Стрелка»