POP Neighborhood Stories a Place by Design Finalist!

The POP Neighborhood Stories initiative was recognized this past week by SXSW Eco in Austin, TX as one of 15 finalists from 75 applicants in the Place by Design competition. The competition honors good design “having the ability to reflect a community’s culture and values and compels people to engage with their everyday surroundings.” See all of the Place by Design finalists here, and congratulations to the four great winning projects: Ballroom Luminoso, From Blight to BrightINSITU, and The Looper.

Over the last year, POP Neighborhood Stories has hosted six celebratory events in the Dallas neighborhoods of La BajadaDolphin HeightsWynnewood NorthTenth StreetMount Auburn, and the Dallas Arts District, reaching over 1,400 total participants. Each event temporarily transforms space in historic neighborhoods into a celebration of each neighborhood's unique culture and development and provides a platform for dialogue about the history and future. This series of events was made possible in part by funding from the National Endowment for the Arts.

We would like to extend our thanks to all of the community members and volunteers that participated in and contributed to these efforts and who make this work possible.

Tenth Street Stories

Read more about Neighborhood Stories and POP Dallas.

On Saturday evening, June 15th, the bcWORKSHOP team got together with the Tenth Street community for the fourth Neighborhood Stories event. We partnered with two churches founded in the neighborhood, Greater El Bethel Missionary Baptist and Elizabeth Chapel CME Church, for a choir performance. Neighbors and visitors enjoyed a potluck BBQ dinner, followed by a sunset screening of a film featuring interviews with current and former residents and those who have been involved with the neighborhood over the years. A gallery exhibit and booklet communicated Tenth Street's rich history and strong culture through photos and maps. Approximately 150 people attended the event, sharing their memories and dreams for the neighborhood on an interactive map and a rope line that stretched across the site.

Watch the Tenth Street film.

SMU deploys POP Toolkit

Learn more about POP Dallas.

testing sensors
testing sensors
creating power source for sensor node
creating power source for sensor node

In February 2013, Southern Methodist University’s Innovation Gymnasium and bcWORKSHOP began talks about a partnership to bring engineering students into neighborhoods to develop socially engaged technology solutions. The Innovation Gymnasium regularly runs Immersion Design Experiences (IDEs), intensive ten-day interdisciplinary engineering design projects for real clients that allow students to build skills with client relations, research, prototyping, finance, and marketing. During the last week of May 2013, the IDE began work within Dolphin Heights. Seven engineering students were presented with an unwieldy problem: how can you measure healthy living environment, connectivity, and cohesion, three of the Measures contained in the POP Toolkit? They brainstormed a number of possible solutions including: a wireless sensor network that could detect noise, light, weather, and air quality and relay the information to a website to host and display collected data; an interactive Neighborhood Board to display sensor-gathered data and also collect qualitative data; and a Wi-Fi bench to serve as a gathering place for the community while providing Wi-Fi to the neighborhood. Due to the budget and time constraints, the students decided to focus on producing the wireless sensor network and the website to display the collected data.

By tracking levels of sound intensity at sensors scattered throughout the neighborhood, students hypothesized that they could map movement and pinpoint circulation patterns (connectivity), gathering places (cohesion), as well as ambient noise (healthy living environment). Tracking light with photosensors at night and during the day would identify light pollution and available shade, two more components of a healthy living environment. An additional single sensor recording weather and air quality would help understand pollution (healthy living environment).

presentation of prototype to bcWORKSHOP and Ms Hill
presentation of prototype to bcWORKSHOP and Ms Hill

The students did a commendable job working hard under pressure with a great deal of sensitivity to the neighborhood’s interests and perceptions. Their technical success compares with their enthusiasm to extend their short-term solution into a long-term project complementing the POP Toolkit’s mission: assisting grassroots planning by preparing the community as advocates for change.

Many thanks to engineering students Kate, Greg, Elizabeth, Eric, Jeff, Lauren, Matt, Austin, and Alex! We are already looking forward to future collaboration!

POP Measures & Tools

Learn more about POP Dallas.

The last POP Toolkit post, in March, mentioned we were looking for a neighborhood to partner with us to Pilot the Toolkit. We found that partner in the Mill City neighborhood, but what has happened in the meantime? Making that announcement revealed to us how much more work still needed to be done -- refining our product and engagement, yes, but also our project definitions.

We had figured out what the Toolkit was and how it worked, but not how to explain it. Our (self-described) “fun and engaging process” was clumsy and awkward to explain or facilitate. We had to go back to the drawing board, where we had long ago stated that the POP Toolkit would structure, visualize, and organize grassroots planning. These principles neatly organize the pieces and parts that make up the Toolkit Process.

The Toolkit structures change by challenging stakeholders to declare a scale of intervention, whether it be the house, the street, the neighborhood or the city. This identifies expectations, a potential audience, and stakeholders.

Livability Measures and Engagement Tools

The Toolkit visualizes change by establishing baseline conditions, contributing factors, and possible solutions to neighborhood concerns. These neighborhood concerns helped us filter global livability research into eight Measures of Livability. The Measures are Density, Form, Use vs. Entitlement, Ownership, Healthy Living Environment, Connectivity, Safety and Cohesion.

Finally, the Toolkit organizes change through twelve Engagement Tools: strategies to convert everyday activities into activism. These are split into three Methods which provide a flexible guide to planning Workshops. The Walk, Meter, List or Web lend themselves to discovering Connections. The Messenger, Gallery, Performance or Meeting are good strategies to share those discoveries. The Act, Garden, Dinner and Plan make a difference. All of the Tools should be used with reflection to deepen the impact and understanding of each step.

The POP Toolkit is, at it's simplest, a way to deploy design thinking as a community organizing Tool. It reflects the process we at bcWORKSHOP use in all our design and making, and puts those skills in neighbor's hands to expand the impact we can make together.

Wynnewood North Stories

Learn more about Neighborhood Stories and POP Dallas.

As part of the bcWORKSHOP’s POP [People Organizing Place] Dallas initiative, Dallas Neighborhood Stories will produce a series of events that engage Dallas’s diverse communities in an active dialogue about the history and future of the city. 

On the afternoon of Saturday, May 11th, the third exhibit in the Neighborhood Stories series was held in Wynnewood North, a neighborhood in Oak Cliff. Conceived, constructed, and marketed as part of Angus Wynne, Jr.’s groundbreaking high-design, midcentury development, Wynnewood North combines single-family homes, apartments, and a retail core to function as a “city within a city” that has maintained its character over the years and is making strides towards re-imagining itself for the future.

The history and evolution of the neighborhood were displayed in a gallery exhibit that included a “mock up” living room featuring midcentury modern furniture on loan from Collage 20th Century Furniture. Event visitors stopped by for movie snacks before heading into a screening of a short film featuring interviews with local residents Janice Coffee, Joseph Hernandez, Anita Johnson, Steve Johnson, Silver Poteete, Ruby Sam, and Reverend Johnny Flowers. Attendees had the opportunity to contribute their own personal stories and memories about the neighborhood as well as play “So You Want to Build...Wynnewood Village”, an interactive game that generated ideas for the future development of Wynnewood Village Shopping Center.

Watch the Wynnewood North film.

The next event will be held in the Tenth Street Historic District - please contact us if you'd like to get involved!

Belden Trail Groundbreaking

Learn more about our work in the RGV.

March 21st, 2013 marked the groundbreaking ceremony for Belden Trail in Brownsville, TX. The ceremony was held at the intersection of West 8th and Fronton Street behind Skinner Elementary School. About 100 people were in attendance, including Brownsville Mayor Martinez, Commissioner Virrareal, Skinner Elementary Principal Moore, Assistant Superintendent Haynes, Community Development Corporation Brownsville Executive Director Nick Mitchell-Bennett, and Commissioner Rose Gowen who spoke on the importance of the Trail. See local coverage of the event from the Brownsville Herald and United Brownsville!

The groundbreaking was a celebration of every contribution by community residents, stakeholders, and project partners toward the development, planning, and design of this project. The process was a community wide effort of collaboration between adjacent residents and institutions as well as project partners and the City of Brownsville.

The trail design includes a pedestrian and bike pathway connecting Skinner Elementary School to Praxedis Orive Jr. Park on Palm Boulevard. The 10 foot-wide pathway also runs alongside Sams Memorial Stadium. The trail design includes:

  • local plants and shade trees including tall grasses and wildflowers, live oak trees, red yucca, sacahuista, and mealy blue sage
  • bike racks, play areas, and local art at Rotary Park, Skinner Elementary School, and the Elizabeth Street intersection.
  • safe street crossings with the addition of street chokers to slow traffic, signage, and crosswalks.

The addition of this public space in Brownsville will encourage healthy lifestyles, diversify transportation options and increase access to natural resources. The trail will serve as an example for continued development of a city-wide trail system increasing city residents' access to cultural, recreational, and natural amenities.

The trail will be under construction for the next two months. You can read more about the background of Belden Trial here. Be sure to like The Friends of Belden Trail on Facebook for updates!

Activity Book Launch

Learn more about POP Dallas.

The POP [People Organizing Place] Dallas Toolkit is an ongoing initiative that provides citizens with a common language and set of tools to gather neighborhoods around creating a vision & organizing community change. bcWORKSHOP is excited to announce the POP Toolkit Activity Book coming soon to a neighborhood near you! To participate in the pilot, you will need to gather an inclusive group of neighborhood stakeholders that will commit to seeking positive change guided by four meetings with bcWORKSHOP.

During the first meeting, bcWORKSHOP will help you collectively map and prioritize the issues and assets that sustain your neighborhood. This is used in the second meeting to generate a prioritized list of goals, which you will discover more about by building a Workshop around a Tool. The third meeting with bcWORKSHOP moves from reflection on discoveries to identifying partners and an audience to help reach your goal. You will build a second workshop around another Tool to share your goal with this audience. The last meeting with bcWORKSHOP helps identify and plan how a change will be made once the issue is understood and partners are gathered.

The Toolkit is a resource for neighborhoods in Dallas (and potentially beyond)! It teaches design thinking in the form of Tools that engage creative problem solving and Metrics that identify and compare outcomes. If your neighborhood is interested in exploring your assets and issues through the Toolkit, please be in touch!

Dolphin Heights Stories

Learn more about Neighborhood Stories and POP Dallas.

As part of the bcWORKSHOP’s POP [People Organizing Place] Dallas initiative, Dallas Neighborhood Stories will produce a series of six events that engage Dallas’s diverse communities in an active dialogue about the history and future of the city.

See more photos on our Facebook page. 

On the afternoon of Saturday, March 16th, the second exhibit in the Neighborhood Stories series was held in Dolphin Heights, a neighborhood in East Dallas. Home to one of the oldest inhabited sites in Dallas, Dolphin Heights has transformed over the past 170 years from a pioneer homestead to a resilient, though isolated, single-family neighborhood punctuated by a diverse set of land uses.

The history and evolution of the community was displayed in an exhibit and a short film featured interviews with current and former neighborhood residents Anna Hill, Ollie Lyons, George Collins, Carolyn Elliot, Walter Isler, and Laura Watson, as well as SMU professor of anthropology Dr. Caroline Brettell. Attendees had opportunities to contribute their own personal stories and memories about the neighborhood and enjoyed food from local restaurants and businesses including Luna's, Schepps Dairy, and RC Cola. In a nod to the circus that used stop in the neighborhood, kids played a selection of carnival games and faced off in an epic cornhole battle.

Watch the Dolphin Heights film.

Upcoming events will be held in Wynnewood North, Tenth Street, and Mount Auburn - please contact us if you'd like to get involved!

TEDx SMU + TEDx Kids

Learn more about POP Dallas.

On November 30 and December 1, 2012, bcWORKSHOP was invited to participate in the TEDxKids @ SMU (a special TED event for local middle school students) and TEDxSMU conferences to showcase our POP [People Organizing Place] Dallas initiative. Now in its fourth year, TEDxSMU brought a multitude of creative thinkers to the City Performance Hall in the Arts District to share and discover innovative ideas in technology, entertainment and design.

Following the conference's theme of re:TH!NK, over 400 attendees on both days shared their ideas for re-thinking the neighborhoods where they live, learn, work and play through activity cards, video interviews and good old-fashioned conversation. During the day, bcWORKSHOP created a compilation of Neighborhood Stories collected throughout the conference as well as a map of representing attendees' neighborhoods, which was screened at the end of the conference.

Conference participants were eager to share ideas for their own neighborhoods and absorb the ideas shared by others from around the city. With the POP City Map as a guide, attendees left armed with a strengthened understanding and commitment to place-making in Dallas.

Welcome Leslie Nepveux!

Leslie Nepveux is a designer whose early life experiences in Africa shaped a deep passion to work with and bring quality design to the underserved. She graduated from Oklahoma State University in 2005 with a professional Bachelors of Architecture. For the past seven years Leslie has worked in architectural firms in Oklahoma, Arizona, and Kansas on a variety of project types and scales including: religious, university, university housing, multi-family housing, commercial, retail, and single-family residential. Most recently she has led a pro-bono design effort for several primary school and clinic projects in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She enjoys sewing and has used this craft to fundraise several trips to Africa. Leslie is eager to participate with bcWORKSHOP and learn from this adventure of public interest design.