Seattle Design Festival, 2016

All in this together

Seattle's housing crisis affects every resident, but not in equal ways. I worked with a team of art, politics and engineering students and Justin Hammacher, Instructor in UW's HCI + D program. We were invited to present our work in the Seattle's Design Festival 2016 Block Party.

 

Our intention was to create a space where participation in the questions surrounding the housing crisis: what should we do? who are 'we'? was inclusive and open to all residents. We specifically invited participation from people experiencing homelessness before launch, so the project would include their hopes and dreams for the city in case they didn't feel comfortable participating during the festival.

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2016

People passing by at the festival were invited to write a wish for the future of Seattle on a white card and place it on the clothesline, replacing another resident's wish and taking that stranger's wish home with them to think about 3 times over 3 days, then discard.

What stood out to me from that day was a conversation with a woman, who had declined to participate because"it doesn't do anything [to write a wish down]." I listened and responded with my own core question,"What if just trying to see things together, instead of avoiding them, what if that is doing something?" 
 

One visitor will always stay with me. She refused to participate saying, "it doesn't do anything to write a wish down."  Her honesty and desire to "do something" sparked a candid conversation right there about love, justice and what "doing something" looks like -- and the pain of witnessing a rapidly growing city turn its back on its own. 

 

I can't say what her tears were, but mine were relief, that it's okay to be undone and angry and confused about how our city treats our own. And that it is possible to respond with our hearts. 

We specifically invited participation from people experiencing homelessness, and included their hopes and dreams for the city. For this project, we wanted to learn more about civic engagement for a community that is typically underrepresented in decisions made about the future of the city they live in. 

For this project, we wanted to learn more about civic engagement for a community that is typically underrepresented in decisions made about the future of the city they live in. 

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© 2018 Ariel Duncan

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