Earlier this year, transit nonprofit TransForm invited Open Architecture San Francisco Bay Area (OAC:SF) to engage attendees of the Let’s Get Moving! Silicon Valley Summit held at Microsoft Mountain View on Saturday, May 7. Open Architecture developed a couple of exercises prompting attendees to identify geography-based community needs (mapping exercise) and prioritize new services (voting exercise) for the South Bay. About 30 participants were drawn to the standalone engagement kiosk.
The mapping exercise crowd-sourced the identification of “dead zones” for food (with the application of green dot stickers), recreation (yellow dots), information (blue), and safety (red). Notable geographic trends emerged around neighborhood slicing, food desert inducing freeways. Navigational information was found to be absent several places that should be information hubs (including malls and rail stations), and downtown San Jose suffers from a prevalence of all four categories.
The voting exercise had participants prioritize their top three small- to medium-scale community improvements form a selection of 12 options, including a “write-in” option. Voting was done with a strip of three orange dots, one of which bearing a “+” sign to indicate a weighed “first priority.” Naturally, the option for “improved bicycle and transit infrastructure” drew a majority of the votes from the transit-based summit attendees, but strong showings were also seen for Community Resource Sharing (think tool lending libraries), “Hubspace” community centers, public art, and exercise space.
The weighted voting results are as follows:
- Bike and Transit Infrastructure – 26
- Write In (marked *) – 18
- Resource Sharing – 15
- “Hubspace” / Community Center – 13
- Public Art – 12
- Exercise Space – 10
- Resilience Center (a public headquarters coordinating disaster preparation and response) – 9
- *Affordable Housing – 9
- Pocket Parks / Parklets – 8
- “Third Place”s (spaces that are not home or work where people are invited to linger, relax, and socialize that are either cheap or free) – 5
- Festivals – 4
- Free WiFi – 3
- *Solar powered automated transit – 3
- *Transit electrification – 2
- *First mile/last mile connections – 2
- *Neighborhood/community development – 1
- Dog parks – 1
OAC:SF treated these as thought exercises, and had not identified the Let’s Get Moving summit as a venue for objective community feedback. As mentioned, the summit was organized around transit-related community solutions. Grassroots community building was a theme TransForm wanted OAC:SF to introduce. We used these exercises more as a introduction and demonstration of community engagement tools, and were successful generating conversations and recognition of peer feedback and values. What’s more, OAC:SF activated introduced the facility of community engagement to Chapter volunteers. We think the impacts of this event are significant, even if data-rich results were not part of the equation.
We look forward to the next opportunity to evolve our engagement techniques with TransForm to expand the conversation of how transit and Bay Area communities can grow together.