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Fall 2020 – Workshop #6: Future-Thinking Engagement Strategies

I didn’t even realize until Paola pointed out tonight was the last Workshop. Because of this, we lingered in the introductions and announcements section. I always have a million tabs open to read later; the group is always active and knowledgeable on what’s going on in the city. It was also so great to have Rachel join tonight, one of the participants from the in-person workshop.

The MPC team led this evening, giving us a preview of the distilled design scenarios pulled from the collection of all the community meetings up until now. You can find the presentation for these formalized suggestions here (shoutout to City Open participant Mark for putting together illustrations of those scenarios).

Rendered development scenarios provided by Wyzendale.

I’m so glad that MPC acknowledged that the collected scenarios don’t fully represent community wishes when there was clearly resistance to developing the plots. How do we frame the CDI to acknowledge that more of the garden will have to be built out than what was asked for? What does development without displacement look like in this site? I don’t personally believe that it’s enough for the City to say a land sale to a potential developer can’t be helped. Since this was the overwhelming collected feedback, people may simply need to see that the City has exhausted all options of maintaining the garden as is. Future CDI sessions will need to clarify the framework and the feasibility of maintaining the gardens as is.

Thinking back to the in-person sessions held at Gale Elementary, Paola suggested all future in-person workshops should take place on the site as much as possible, in order to directly encounter and engage the different communities that utilize its space. I suppose if the month felt quick for us as volunteers, the residents then also probably thought the process allowing them an opportunity to provide input was too short. Perhaps future sessions need to build in more of a “ramp up” to the design exercise, in order to really build a relationship with residents before diving into the gritty design details.

That’s a wrap, folks! There is still one more opportunity to have Rogers Park feedback recorded through this survey, which will close November 25. You can also review previous session presentations on the CDI main page. Huge thank you to all the participants and to MPC this season - it’s a testament that, even through a pandemic, communities can gather in safe ways and continue to imagine their neighborhood futures.


LOUISA ZHENG is a designer interested in social impact and community participatory processes.


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