We used storytelling methods to understand how community members view greenspaces and the meanings attached to them. This work was crucial to ensuring that the community’s experiences, memories and stories associated with greenspaces, including the project site, were incorporated into the park design. We used a combination of traditional participatory methods such as interviews with arts-based methods including photovoice, mural drawing, and interpretive sign design.
The photovoice activity involved local youth to gather their perspectives on the site as well as public spaces in general. This activity helped us understand how the youth envisioned the park, what aspects they wanted to keep or change, and what elements they wanted to incorporate from other public spaces they frequent.
The sign activity consisted of asking the youth to draw a concept of the park entrance design. We then shared the drawings with other community members in the first workshop, asked them to vote on the best concepts, and noted suggestions for possible modifications. At the workshop, community members also voted on ideas for interpretive signs to be placed around the park.
The photovoice, mural and sign activities broke away from the typical engagement activities of planning by enabling youth’s voices, values, and perspectives to be heard, and thus served as a good practice for community-based planning and design.