Neck deep in research on participatory art and experience design this morning, in particular spending more time than I should contemplating Alan Brown and Jennifer Novak-Leonard’s ‘Audience Involvement Spectrum’ from Getting In On the Act: How arts groups are creating opportunities for active participation. (The excellent blog that lead me there is here.)
Can’t count the number of times I’ve searched for a resource on X or Y in participatory tech/politics/governance and was only able to find what I was looking for (and more!) in the realm of the arts.
This is actually less striking than the fact that these resources (like this excellent post from an arts participation incubator in Australia (CAN YOU EVEN)) invest energy in grounding their work in the work of political and social scientists. In other words, many of the leading minds in participatory art are literally connecting and founding their efforts in the research and knowledge that defines participatory politics. But the political folks (and, now, by association and education, the participatory govt tech folks) make no such knowledge exchange in the other direction: there are no references to the work of “audience as artists” to describe what deep participation looks like in a participatory budgeting process or as a defining part of the structure of hackathons. No one is writing critique of civic app contests based on where they fall in the participatory spectrum or advising municipal government IT spending on interactive infrastructure based on lessons learned from their local arts and cultural communities. (If they are, I’d love to meet them (and, likely, join forces).)
Struck by how much in govt tech we’re missing from this wealth of cultural interactive knowledge (and how much harder the knowledge/value gap(s) will be to forge over time if we don’t consider starting soon…).
Here’s a taste of what I mean: Look at this chart and think about “democratic participation” — all the bits of interactivity we the people are offered for guiding our own governance.
Where do town halls fall?
Where do civic tech meet-ups fall?
Where do apps contests fall?
Where does participatory budgeting fall?
Where does voting fall?
Where do playground builds fall?
12:57 pm |
September 18 2014
Amazing selfie sent to me from some of my absolute, hands-down, without-question favorite people on the planet, who are currently journeying back from enjoying a weekend of toasting to survival and thrival on Cape Cod.
Tonight, I raise a glass (of water) to them from the Other Side (of the country). As my vision blurs, slurred by plane travel, lingering insomnia, and the childlike muscle-collapse that comes from having Finally Made It To A Destination (California! I’ve been waiting for you for months), I hold this image in crisp focus. Each smile is a beacon — no, not that lofty: a middle finger. A glorious fuck-you to the universe.
I mean, GOODNESS, you’d think that, with all that 2014 has brought us — all the blistering highs and the humbling, humbling lows — you’d think that the corners of our mouths would have stopped working all together: the wires snapped, trapping our lips, if not in a frown or tremble, then in the thinest of thin lines.
But my people are born of the burning light. (And my women are the women of Atlas — we bear the weight, but (somehow) we are not brought down by it.)
Bring it on, ye demons of death, illness, heartbreak, and hopelessness! If there was ever a doubt, this year we learned that we can fight. (We learned that we can live.)
// Famiglia //
2:07 am |
September 15 2014
ah, that bittersweet reminder:
you are the guardian of your own (heart/mind/self). no need to ready the spear, but certainly don’t take off that chainmaille, even as you go to lay in the grass and rest a while. There is vulnerability and then there is vulnerability.
10:54 pm |
September 9 2014
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Riding in Pink Cars Without Boys
Republishing a director’s version of my contribution to The Weekly Wonk’s latest Up for Discussion. Full text (and other’s responses) here.
Prompt: New Delhi has a taxi service, driven by women, which picks up only women passengers. Mexico City has women-only buses. And Rio de Janeiro’s subway has a “pink car” that is exclusively available to women at peak travel times. Just this month, Thailand reintroduced women-only train cars.
All of these changes are intended to reduce harassment and violence against women – and to help them feel safer moving about the city. But is segregated public transport the best solution to the challenges of being a woman en route? We asked six experts: What’s the best way for a city (in the U.S. or elsewhere) to come up with a plan to keep woman safe as they use public transportation?
Public space implies the free movement and use of an area by all people. So, if there is a public space without women in it, can we really call it public? That’s the question we have answer if we choose to segregate by gender, rather than wrestle directly with what it means to create spaces for everyone (and therefore, that are safe for everyone).
This is not to say that gender separation tactics can’t be effectively used for social change. For example, in 2001, the mayor of Bogotá, Colombia transformed the city through a “Night for Women”, assigning a woman-identified chief of police for the evening and encouraging men to stay home with children. The objective of this exercise was not only to give women the freedom to have a night on the town, but also to temporarily transform the commons into a space they could feel safe in. The program was so popular (over 700,000 women participated the first night) that it was instituted regularly and inspired similar programs in Cartagena, Santa Marta, Barranquilla, and other Colombian cities.
This appears similar to the examples from New Delhi and Mexico City, but there is a crucial difference: Bogotá’s gender separation was temporary—a short-term, government-sponsored activity crafted to help change the social norms around how men and women traditionally use and view public space. By contrast, the creation of permanent separate spaces contributes to the status quo. Isolating women might build confidence in the “women’s only” car, but a “women’s only” car doesn’t contribute to the long term cultural shifts needed to establish positive behaviors in all the other spaces where men and women meet.
Better social norms, not separate rooms, help move culture from sexist activity towards egalitarian reality. But to make change, a community has to be able to visualize and understand how the new norms would play out in real life. That’s the power of temporary takeovers: They demonstrate the possible—what the world could be if we acted differently, even before society writ large is ready. With the recent spike of educational humor about sexual harassment and assault in the U.S., we’re already exploring what safe spaces for North American women could look like using this kind of active visioning. If we want change, we must continue to do so.
11:27 am |
September 4 2014
Working on redefining what The Curious Citizens Project is and how it operates in the world (my own, DC, all worlds) and meditating on the following. (Perhaps you’ll see this text again elsewhere after a bit more workshopping…)
We believe in magic.
We believe that people come first and that the best solutions and creations arise only when we work together.
We are devoted to joyful participation in public life.
We are stewards of public commons, be they digital, physical, temporary, messy, sculpted, or otherwise.
We believe that in living in the present and being mindful of the past are essential to creating equitable, imaginative, transformative futures.
We believe the impossible is possible.
And last, but certainly not least, we believe in you.
11:21 am |
September 2 2014
This is a present from a small, distant world, a token of our sounds, our science, our images, our music, our thoughts and our feelings. We are attempting to survive our time so we may live into yours.
live into yours
7:54 pm |
August 31 2014
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“Art is not a mirror held up to society, but a hammer with which to shape it. — Vladimir Mayakovsky”
7:59 am |
August 28 2014
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How I Learned to Be White (A Reflection on Privilege)
Started this as a Tumblr post in response to come work conversations of late.
I’ve lived through several revolutions/revelations these past few years, but the biggest one, by far, was in 2012, when I realized I was white…
You have to own your race if you believe in fighting racism. You can’t fight what you can’t see.
8:27 pm |
August 26 2014
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