lørdag 10. juli 2010

Designing and Cleaning three public spaces

When: 20. 07 - 23.07.10

Where:Rotary football Court, Football Court 2, Boxing Court

Based on the information collected from the previous workshops we were now able to judge from a better position the different meeting points and evaluate their qualities such as potential to gather people and for physical improvement.

All site offered enormous possibilities, but it was time to reduce this number and focus our attention and investigations in 3 of them. After revisiting each site, discussing among ourselves and reading the reviews by the residents we chose The rotary football court, the football court 2 and the boxing as the sites with higher potential for a physical intervention.

We based the decision on the spaces the residents use the most apart from their homes, the spaces they like playing, the spaces they think they don't go because of some reasons, the spaces they think should be improved and why, etc.) the our own studies regarding the potential they have to generate the biggest impact to the community as a whole.

The Rotary football court is the natural meeting point for the community everytime there is a big event. The lack of free open space within the locks has given the site the ´honor´ to become the hosting site for elections and thus known among most residents. It is also a popular meeting area for kids, teenagers and adults who play football daily.

The football 2 court is a forgotten site located at the ¨educational and cultural¨ cluster within locks 1-6. This empty space was once a popular gathering place for teenagers and adults. It has been abandoned and filled with trash. The filed is located in where most people call ' The buddha image side' area, surrounded by the back of the shophouse walls, one of the entrances to the community and right in front of the former library and opposite to a kindergarden and its playground. The site is still used by some children to play football, but it is also the meeting point for children addicted to sniffing glue giving it another character which lots of people complained about.

Lastly the boxing area on the opposite side of the site and under the elevated highways is the main gathering point for small kids of the area around it. This site is privately owned but its owner has opened it for everyone, so that the kids can play and train at a safe location. The site features a boxing ring, some boxing equipment and an open area for the kids to run around. At the same time, the owner opens a food shop and has areas for eating and a TV for adults to sit and watch TV while the kids are playing.

The workshop was mainly aimed to everyone, but most of the participants are kids. However, starting with kids is something easier to approach and fast since they have not many life condiions to think about, compared to the adults. We began by talking to them about the way they experience their site and how we ( the participants and us ) all could transform it so it could be even more attractive. After talking to them, we handed out sheets of paper so they could draw their ideas. This is a funnier and more inspiring way to do things than to just talk. After working on their own we asked them to present their drawing to the rest of us. The drawing varied according to the age, but many of them had really good ideas we would have never thought about.

This task was then reinforced by doing the same but in groups. We let them organize themselves and gave each group an A1 sheet of paper, so they all could try working together and start to hear about what the others in the group thought. This is a very important exercise that we gave them to try to work together, argue and finally come up with common ideas. Most children were under the age of 8, so there were usually fights for the paper, the pencils and the area, but we all managed to participate.

Along the process and many times based on Ploy´s previous experiences with children, we have tried to use different methods to interact with the kids. It is not always easy to work with 15 + children, and it is often necessary to keep most of them busy before they start running around.

After being done with the drawing part, we told them that we were going to collect their ideas and put them together so that we could plan how to start transforming their site. But before this, we gathered all the children and started asking them a question what can they start with before getting a new beautiful playground. Some of the answers are to collect the garbage so it was a good opportunity for us to tell them that we had to get the site ready, in other words, we had to start picking up the garbage ( like what they said!).

To our surprise this became a very popular activity and most children joined it. The first time we did it at the football court 2. Since there were lots of glasses and dangerous materials, we divided the group into 2 according to age. The little ones were in charge of picking up the garbager around the library and outside the court, while the older ones helped us take away a mass of garbage from the side of the court. To minimize the risk of injuries and accidents, everyone was requested to wear shoes (sandals) and we bought 2 different types of gloves. Leather ones for those working with glass, and cotton ones for the other ones.

Some of the little kids, after feeling that the area was clean already, they started to go home and pick up garbage from their homes. It was something that none of us had planned before. The end of the day we had a wrap up conversation with the people. We tried to make them say what they really thought about the activity and if they wanted to continue. The answer is positive.

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