Community Storytelling to Envision the Future

community engagement helps set the stage for a community (re)design project

A local housing authority begins the redesign process for one of its public housing communities. Like many other redevelopment processes, there is a concern for transparency throughout the process, thoughtful design, and accountability. Neighbors desire a community-driven process that ensures they are a part of the design and implementation of the community they hope to live in for many years to come. 

Our team, part of a larger design team selected through a competitive RFP, will be leading community engagement. We understand that earning the trust of the residents will be one of our leading tasks. While only in the beginning stages of our work, we decided to produce a community storytelling tour with lifelong residents serving as our tour guides. The goal was to learn and gather assets from the past, understand and fellowship around the present, and forecast and envision the future - together. This is where we start building trust and developing activities beyond meetings.

We engaged community partners, historians, and local residents to synthesize the history of the area through a series of community listening sessions and personal interviews. From there, our team coordinated logistics, volunteer assignments, photography, and videography. For two hours we hosted a series of 30-minute bus tours around the community with tour guides and facilitators leading the conversation, and community members chiming in. 

At the end of the bus tour community members gave suggestions for what to keep, what to change, and what amenities they would like to see return to the community using life-sized maps.

We received raving reviews. "Your Storyteller Tour was fantastic," one participant wrote. People wished that the bus tour was longer and even requested that we plan another tour in the near future. 

If you are in the beginning stages of a community design, affordable housing, community redevelopment project, we'd like to partner with you to manage community engagement. 

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