Organization: Neighborworks Blackstone River Valley, Woonsocket, RI
Sponsor: Doebele Community Service Fellowship
“Everything this week focused on preparations for Friday, for our “food-truck night in[clusive] process” event. I learned so much from this day, including managing teams and unexpected situations, the importance of having and prioritizing a solid plan and objectives to achieve the main goal, and assessing the scale of tactical urban interventions.
This activity was fundamental to gain an understanding of how people conceive of public space. This learning can then be applied to creating new behavior patterns and helping to raise awareness of what the city has to offer to its citizens.
Although the day started with very bad weather, people came and taught me a lot about how they envisioned using open space.
Children were especially clever in developing a sense of belonging in each space where we had intervened.
They did not have any social constraints, or problems playing with things displayed for them.
They were free to use items and relocate them if they wanted to.
I made two observations from this event. On a regular day, people just go to the public space, eat and then leave. At this event, I noticed that people started to look and walk around the area before eating to discover places and activities, to gain a better idea of what they could do that day. The second observation was related to the map. Having that piece of paper allowed children and adults to each take their own initiative and to explore. The map was a decisive factor in people choosing to move around the space. Although activities were planned for any age, it seemed harder for adults to become engaged. However, they were relieved to have a place to allow their children to play, one of the virtues of public space.
Here are some comments that we collected that day. They reflect people’s impressions about the event:
» Very useful to have a map of the area that even children can use.
» A large map, like the mall, with activities and truck locations would be very useful.
» Some people didn’t know there was a park next to the 40 South Main Street Building, the historical society on the back and other buildings. They liked it.
» Keep activities all around the space.
» Mini-golf between the old buildings would be fun.
» Balloon painting area should be like an outdoor movie theater.
» Add more tables and chairs in other areas, so parents are able to see their children playing while adults are eating.
» Hanging lights, tires and plants: “This doesn’t even feel like Woonsocket!”
» Live music was a good addition.
» ”I really enjoyed having food trucks with many different cuisines. It’s important to have different choices for every taste.”
Based on these findings, I am going to work on a proposal to redevelop areas around the old mills.”