Dream Play Build
6 x 9
55 photos, 10 illustrations
The room is dim, the chairs are in perfectly lined rows. The city planner puts up a color-coded diagram of the street improvement project, dreading the inevitable angry responses.
Jana loves her community and is glad to be able to attend the evening meeting, and she has a lot of ideas for community change. But she has a hard time hearing, and can’t see the diagrams clearly. She leaves early.
It’s time to imagine a different type of community engagement – one that inspires connection, creativity, and fun.
People love their communities and want them to become safer, healthier, more prosperous places. But the standard approach to public meetings somehow makes everyone miserable. Conversations that should be inspiring can become shouting matches. So what would it look like to facilitate truly meaningful discussions between citizens and planners? What if they could be fun?
For twenty years, James Rojas and John Kamp have been looking to art, creative expression, and storytelling to shake up the classic community meeting. In Dream Play Build, they share their insights into building common ground and inviting active participation among diverse groups. Their approach, “Place It!,” draws on three methods: the interactive model-building workshop, the pop-up, and site exploration using our senses. Using our hands to build and create is central to what makes us human, helping spark ideas without relying on words to communicate. Deceptively playful, this method is remarkably effective at teasing out community dreams and desires from hands-on activities. Dream Play Build offers wisdom distilled from workshops held around the world, and a deep dive into the transformational approach and results from the South Colton community in southern California. While much of the process was developed through in-person meetings, the book also translates the experience to online engagement--how to make people remember their connections beyond the computer screen.
Inspirational and fun, Dream Play Build celebrates the value of engaging with the dreams we have for our communities. Readers will find themselves weaving these artful, playful lessons and methods into their own efforts for making change within the landscape around them.
More than 6,000 pedestrians are killed every year on US streets, representing an enormous 50% increase from the first part of the decade. For the Latinx population in particular, walking, biking, and using public transportation are the most affordable mobility options, thus putting the population at a higher risk of pedestrian death. Additionally, there's a lack of Latinx participation in the transportation planning process. The US-Latinx population's unique cultural perspective is needed in community development. Angie Schmitt, author of the new book Right of Way: Race, Class and the Silent Crisis of Pedestrian Deaths in America, will talk about the social trends that are putting people at risk. James Rojas, founder of the Latino Urban Forum, will discuss why it's important to incorporate the Latinx experience into mobility design throughout the built environment.
Kamp and Rojas have created a video, guide, and online training for the some of the Place It! methods. These were specifically designed for educators and those working with students on walking and rolling to school.
Place It! for Safe Routes to School: An Interactive Community Engagement Workshop
Get the essay: How Do You Teach Kids About Urban Planning? Let Them Play.