El Carrito: Week Thirteen, Thursday, April 14, 2011

Approaches to Participation

In order to engage the greatest variety of users, we have to put into practice a variety of activities; if we simply appeal to “everyone in general” we are simply approaching participation in bulk, which fails to engage. And so, we are working on developing specific activities for specific users. The process is slow; as we are getting to know the different users in the neighborhood, we think of different activities that can work.

Country Dance Circle in Fort Pienc: Raons rolls out the red carpet with a map of the neighborhood

On Thursday afternoon, we officially launched the Public Space Trading Cards. Inspired by the game of Detectiu de Barri (Neighborhood Detectives), which challenges children to an urban mission, we wanted to offer a prize after each participant or group answered the 5 Urban Mission Questions.

Detective Tags and Trading CardsCountry Dancers and El Carrito

After seeing some of the children play with other trading cards, such as futbol (soccer), the idea of Public Space Trading Cards began to take root; but instead of just trading, children are encouraged to complete information about each space on the back of the card (1. How many trees?; 2. How many benches?; and 3. How many people are in Space X?) in order to earn more cards. In fact, we met with a school officially to ask his opinion, and it struck me as funny that he remarked on the strangeness of giving away the cards for “free;” of course, they are not quite free: they must be earned with some urban exploration, and not the dominant currency. We had some enthusiastic participants; however, before we knew it, the time came for the second activity of the day.

Country Dancing in Plaza Fort Pienc

The Civic Center Fort Pienc hosts various dance classes, including American Country! In our continued efforts to get to know the neighborhood better, we saw this as a great opportunity to use activities already occurring in Fort Pienc and infuse them with an urban twist. And so, rolling out the red carpet complete with a neighborhood map, El Carrito to the side and some Raons members joining and participating in the festivities, the Country Dancers of Fort Pienc draw quite a crowd.

Country Dancers and El Carrito

A variety of people participate, and the observers create a circle around the dancers.

Participants, accompanist and observers

It is also a great opportunity for some Raons members to walk around and informally talk to the observers and ask them what other types of activities they would like to see in their neighborhood. This looks quite beautiful from above!

Country Dancers in Fort Pienc... on Fort Pienc!

Overlapping Uses

Of course, despite the music and the general focus on the dancing, it is good to remember that not everyone will use the space in the same way; as I went to the library terrace to take photos, I noticed that the first floor of the library was full (like usual) with mostly senior men with newspapers in hand. You can see the country dancers through the window, just outside the reading room.

Passive and Active Uses in the Plaza and Library

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