Engaging Community Through Design

One thing that’s exciting about being a blogger with many passions and pursuits related to design and community is hearing other blogger-turned-serious-journalists leveraging their writing to mobilize people to make an impact in both these arenas.

Such was my experience last night, in which I attended the AIGA-sponsored event in which Alissa Walker, self-proclaimed blogger, walker, and gelato-enthusiast presented a compelling lecture regarding her recent initiative entitled “Good Ideas for Cities.”

The description of this movement is as follows, “Using GOOD magazine and its website as a platform, GOOD Ideas for Cities aims to advance the role that creative problem-solving and civic engagement play in building great communities. GOOD Ideas for Cities events will bring together creatives to tackle challenges identified by urban leaders in few new cities and the proposed solutions will be presented to city leaders in front of live audiences, as well as online and in the magazine. As part of a larger partnership with CEOs for Cities, GOOD will also develop a model for the event that can be locally executed anywhere that designers and civic challenges co-exist.”

Part of the intent of the lecture was to actually engage Colorado in a dialogue in which they might actually bring GOOD Ideas for Cities to Denver… a move that I think would not only benefit our city, but also be an amazing supplement to a lot of the already powerful small and larger-scale discussions and interventions happening with groups such as Architecture for Humanity, Tactical Urbanism, the Congress for New Urbanism, etc.

Denver already has a lot of amazing things going for it in regards to being a progressive, smart city.  I am continually impressed with Denver’s demonstration of leadership in regards to being an early-adopter of sustainable design, an advocate for healthy-living, and a city that recognizes the importance of community engagement in regards to creating positive evolution and change on a local scale (I’ll never forget when a friend asked me if I wanted to participate in “guerrilla gardening” on a Saturday afternoon on the corner of a vacant lot in Curtis Park.. this kind of small-scale, thoughtful activity confirmed my understanding that change begins with grassroots efforts and great people with great ideas..)

With that said, there are so many areas of our city that would benefit from engaging our civic leaders in a discussion regarding innovative, thoughtful design solutions; from blighted and vacant lots in our downtown area to civic monuments that are only utilized on days in which large, heavily-programmed events take place–the possibilities for small to large scale interventions and improvements are endless and latent with great potential!

I encourage everyone to take a look at the GOOD Ideas for Cities website, and to think about how, as architects, designers, and Colorado residents, we might think about engaging our community in a meaningful dialogue that might eventually help support our rapidly changing culture, modes of interaction, and needs/desires on a local, regional, and global scale.

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