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People Who Move Us Through the City

Thursday, November 25th, 2010

As part of our engagements to find out more about the City and how it works, we lead some processes with key stakeholders. The theme of the process which John and I lead was “people who move us through the city”. The people who were sitting at the table I lead in conversation were:

Ciaran Fallon – DCC bike officer

Henk Vandercamp – Irish Planning Institute

Eoin Farrel – National Transport Authority

Philip O Donoghue – Dublin2Walk

A very interesting and impassioned discussion at the table, with each participant proposing a question which was then discussed by the group for ten minutes. The initial five minutes was spent talking about what movement means, where we came up with the idea that ‘moving is land use’. We also talked about who is the priority in terms of movement in the city.

The four questions discussed were as follows: Who can lead the change needed – is it a technical or a political question? Why is north-south the predominant axis of movement and how can we promote east-west? Where do we most effectively integrate movement and land use? How can we facilitate movement but create a harmonious atmosphere in the city?

Ideas around balance, civic engagement, street clutter, the environment and how many cars is a comfortable number were some of the key discussion points.

Leprechaun Museum and East Wall

Friday, November 5th, 2010

This week was full of interesting conversations…

Wednesday was the most action packed day for me, with not one but two street conversations taking place!

Leprechaun Museum

In the morning Nuala and I made our way to the Leprechaun Museum, where we were given a true Irish welcome, including a tour through the very interesting exhibition and installation spaces. We then set up in the cafe and began our engagement!

The process was a very simple one, and involved us in our Tshirts with our notebooks talking to people who were enjoying a coffee after their time in the museum. It was a pretty quiet day, which meant we had the pleasure of two in depth conversations with two pairs of people.

Some of the insights and Dublin gems we gathered were as follows:

- Dublin is a very diverse place, with mountains and sea easily accessible.

- Glasnevin Cemetary is a hidden gem of the city

- There is a Dublin by Bike tour which could be worth exploring

- Dublin has a homely, comfortable feel to visitors (suggested tagline – Dublin – Welcome Home!)

- Our skyline is low and we can perhaps take better advantage of this

- There is a problem with accessibility of information – “We probably walked past 50 cool things on the way

but we don’t know what they are or how to find out.”

East Wall

In the second part of the day Nuala, Micheal and I headed to a recreational centre in East Wall. Our hope was to engage with the younger people in our city through a process we had devised. We went out with little camera packs, and asked the people there to take pictures of things in the city that they love, hate and would like to change. The people at the centre were full of fun and giggles. We had a lively chat about some examples… Will be interesting to see the results, watch this space!

Stakeholders and Users Process

Friday, October 8th, 2010

Vincent and I were tasked with coming up with a process to engage the stakeholder group we had identified under the themes of periphery, transport and innovation under the broader theme of enterprise.

We took a look at what the strengths and weaknesses of the group, and tried to narrow the focus of our theme. The theme we came up with was “Mobilizing Resources to Maximum Effect”.

The importance of this theme is uncovering hidden gems, and working with what we have to best effect.

The process we planned to run was to get our stakeholders to come on a magical journey in a horse and cart to some of Dublin’s peripheral hidden gems.

We planned on meeting the group at the convention center. There we would confiscate their phones, and give them all a disposable camera to photograph their journey with.

The first stop would be the Point, where they would be given an envelope with a question in it – what’s your favourite hidden gem in the city? The stakeholders would be asked to draw their favourite hidden gem.

The second stop would be Sandymount, where we would ask How could we better connect Dubliners with the sea?

The third stop would be IMMA where the participants would be asked whether they think there is separation between business and creativity in the city, and what could be done to improve it?

The final stop would be the people’s garden, where we would ask how can we make the periphery of Dublin more central, in an efficient manner?

This was the outline of our initial process. However, as things progressed, we realised we would have to make several changes… Again flexibility and a willingness to run with the adaptation needed were key lessons…

100 ideas…

Friday, October 8th, 2010

The other big task undertaken was coming up with 100 ideas for projects that could be undertaken. Inspired by our speakers, themes and examples, and armed with post-its and sharpies, this exercise was a bit push in letting go, thinking outside the box, and letting thoughts flow.

My working methodology was one of just jotting down the things that came to mind. Again inspiration came from personal interests, projects I was familiar with, things I had seen or heard. Having a notebook for on the bus or when out and about helped too. Coming up with that volume of ideas meant not being too perfectionist about the ideas but accepting all thoughts, big and small. Thinking of things I would like to do or see done in the city was the main approach.

100 Examples…

Friday, October 8th, 2010

One of the major undertakings of the first week was coming up with 100 examples under the themes of Entrepreneurship, Storytelling, Spirit, Society and Interactions. 20 each! My working methodology involved lots of Googling, following interesting links, thinking of projects I already knew about, some little thoughts jumping out at me as I wandered through the city, and being inspired by the people around me…

I love the city… This is a project I would love to bring to life…

Friday, October 8th, 2010

My half day design prototype project took inspiration from two of the ideas that the team had voted on. These two were a) trails of footprints allowing you to walk in someone else’s shoes in the city and b) traces – people leave notes with their experience of a place in the city that is special to them.

My project involved three thought bubbles with images, one of Eurovision for Meeting House Square, one of apples for Curved St, and one of Casablanca for the IFI. Each thought bubble was accompanied by a speech bubble which said “I love the city.. this is where I…”, and a little holder for badges which people could take.

Out we went and stuck up the prototypes. The trail of footprints which I was going to draw in chalk never happened in the end due to time constraints – being adaptable when rapid prototyping is key!


Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

Some thoughts following our (Shane and I) trip to see the Laneway installation…

Had a lovely chat with the two lads, who were really nice, so much so that my emphasis on really made Tobias laugh at me! Anyway, here is a quick run through of some topics we touched on:

- creating community in what is usually a transient or passing-through space.

- ownership – there seems to be a feeling of lack of ownership of the streets that means people feel dis-empowered from using their city creatively. People are worried about breaking the law, getting in trouble, and the general hassle of going through authority routes.

- facilitation – festivals like the fringe facilitate people to do these projects by legitimizing them and helping with the official channels .

- respect – is there a lack of respect for the public domain in the Irish psyche?

- after the fact approval – the lads did not get funding or much interest from the local businesses, but after they went ahead and set it up, people came out en force to show their approval and congratulate them.

Check out the web:

And the lads’ company:

P.S. There is a pink loveseat if you want a fun quick date idea!!

Sexing the Breast

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

Following our breastfeeding in public vs topless bike riding through cities…

Interesting perspectives on sexualisation of the female body.

Leverage Points in a System

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

Here is the link to the paper I was talking about :

Really interesting content about where and how to most effectively intervene in a system!

Thanks Donella Meadows.