Neighborhood Stories SEED Awards Honorable Mention

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POP Neighborhood Stories has been recognized as a 2014 SEED Award for Excellence in Public Interest Design Honorable Mention! Winning projects span the globe from Peru, Brazil, India, Israel, Mozambique, China, and the United States. We are very proud to have our work recognized along side so many great projects.

2014 SEED Award Winners: Comunidad Ecologica Saludable, Puenta Piedra, Lima Peru Can City, Sao Paulo, Brazil The Potty Project, New Delhi, India Towns Association for Environmental Quality Green Building Headquarters, Sakhnin, Israel Community How-To-Guides, Detroit, Michigan, United States Manica Football for Hope Centre, Bairro Vumba, Manica, Mozambique

Honorable Mentions:Dime Kam Minority Cultural Heritage in China, Dimen, China Walk [Your City], Raleigh, North Carolina, United States POP Neighborhood Stories, Dallas, Texas, United States

The fourth annual SEED Awards received applications from 28 countries. The SEED Award recognizes designs that address the critical social, economic, and environmental issues in the world. Winners were selected by an esteemed jury based on the following criteria: Effectiveness, Excellence, Inclusiveness, Impactful, and Systemic and Participatory. The jury members were: William Morrish, Jury Chair, of Parsons The New School of Design; Cara McCarty of the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum; Andres Lepik of the Architekturmuseum der Technischen Universität München; Esther Yang of the Max Bond Center for Design for the Just City; and Christopher London of The New School.

bcWORKSHOP's past SEED Award winning projects include the Congo Street Initiative (Winner, 2011); Gurley Place at Jubilee Park (Honorable Mention, 2012); and Colonias Planning & Implementation (Honorable Mention, 2013).

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.

Mount Auburn Stories

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On Saturday, August 17th Neighborhood Stories celebrated the community of Mount Auburn. Since the start of its development in 1907, Mount Auburn has remained a stronghold for East Dallas’ working class residents who have consistently campaigned for the retention and betterment of single-family homes, streets, and parks. Culturally and economically diverse, Mount Auburn’s population has gradually shifted from predominantly Anglo to predominantly Latino. This shift has brought change to the historic neighborhood, with renovated homes and businesses expressing the culture of its current residents. Not immune to inner city problems, the neighborhood has rebounded from the city’s suburban migration in the 1960s and the subsequent increase in crime in order to emerge as a stable, active neighborhood. Though not a historic or conservation district itself, Mount Auburn has certainly benefitted from city ordinances that protect the character of the surrounding areas; however, its success can mainly be attributed to its residents. The strong advocates of years past established, protected, and improved the parks, schools, and quiet connectivity that lend Mount Auburn the peaceful vibrancy it enjoys today.

As part of the Neighborhood Stories series, activities included a bike/walk paseo through the neighborhood, exploring exhibit stations that showcase the physical and social history of Mount Auburn; a community meal with food from local residents; and a sunset screening of the neighborhood film. 

Watch the Mount Auburn film.

Tenth Street Stories

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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

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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

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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

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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!

Activity Book Launch

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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!

Welcome Maria Bergh!

Maria Bergh is a designer and maker who believes that a community is a union of people, place, ecology and infrastructure, and that each of those elements has a role in sustaining and restoring the whole. She recently graduated at the top of the University of Cincinnati’s Masters of Architecture and Masters of Community Planning programs where she built practical experience in architecture through cooperative education internships all over the country. She is grateful and excited to join bcWORKSHOP to collectively learn and build a more just, robust, and engaging city for today and tomorrow.