Aspirations of MyWHaT
As some undoubtedly noticed, MyWHaT the blog has been on a bit of a hiatus. The past month was a necessary distancing from the project that had become a compulsion almost every morning. As the main contributor, I was a tad fried and to be honest, I simply needed some sleep.
This takes more time than I care to admit. The blog, social media content, research, tracking of meetings, and occasional advocate role associated with MyWHaT can easily dominate. That’s not a complaint; it has been a rewarding experience over the last two years. We’ve seen some payoff on the ground with better design, better policy, better process, better participation.
People who otherwise would only be ranting at home and within their own circle are reaching out to engage in the community. They are doing so, in part, because they are motivated by information and discussion made accessible via MyWHaT. As was written to me concerning the impact of the blog:
It is one of the sites necessary to knowing what is happening in T.C., why bike-ability and walk-abilty matter, and why consciously designing our community spaces is important.”
It’s good to know that perspective is out there and thank you to the people “out-there” that have helped provide the perspective, knowledge and support to make it successful.
As I warm back-up the keyboard, I would like to re-visit some of what this project attempts to do and what it has done. A special thank you to everyone who took the time to answer the 2011 MyWHaT Reader Survey that has provided some tea-leaves to consider the past and what’s to come. In the near future, I’ll lay out ideas for moving forward, but for now I’d like to explore the intention.
MyWHaT aspires to…
…Facilitate learning & questioning for the potential of public spaces and to bring to attention how the design of those spaces shapes our lives–whether we intend it to or not. If we aren’t designing for people, it won’t be for people.
…Build a network of people discussing these issues in a constructive, positive and actionable way. Readers of MyWHaT have shown a propensity to carry ideas into a wider community. The replies to the first question of the 2011 reader survey suggests we are achieving this objective.
…Inspire possibilities for action and for being the change you wish to see. Again, the survey suggests MyWHaT is influencing people’s behavior. 28% of the survey respondents said a post or comment on MyWHaT inspired them to alter their “use of public space” including how they move around. There has been a handful of people express that a post opened up the possibility for them of walking to work–that’s heart-warming. A fine measure of community is the number of people who walk to work.
…Encourage engagement of readers to represent the interest of the commons at public meetings, through letters of support or directly volunteering for an issue. Ultimately, the championing of our public spaces needs to reach those making and guiding the decisions–the elected and appointed officials, government and agency staffs and other luminaries that hold influence over the former. Again, from the survey, 30% of MyWHaT readers were moved to contact public officials on one or more issues. 24% did so in person and 5% had enough of other people representing them and actually stepped-up to sit on a local board or commission. If you can’t serve, adopt someone holding a seat of power and offer your advice directly.
…Reclaim the commons as a place to bring citizens together. In the last 70-plus years we’ve created a culture of consumers instead of citizens engaged to work towards a shared vision. As a result, the majority of public space exists simply to pass through. We can do better. We can design public space that celebrates and strengthens community. We aspire to elevate that perspective in the public discourse.
…Generate support for this experiment to thrive. Those associated with MyWHaT are critically aware the need to take broad perspectives on issues and to do so with clarity of intention. We aspire to bring focus to the idea that the design of public space needs to be inclusive to all and designed to provide freedom of movement regardless of the means. With the current state of affairs, this isn’t possible without a broad coalition of encouragement and support.
And, the ask…
From the results of the survey, the concern of this blog’s sustainability and ability to thrive has considerable support. 82% of survey respondents expressed a willingness to contribute financially. If you find value in the discussion generated through MyWHaT, a one-time donation of $5 to $500 or setting up a monthly subscription is greatly appreciated. A donation is an act from the heart that gives credence to work. More than the money, the act provides considerable impetus to continue.
If you have another idea in how you can contribute to this project, please don’t hesitate to send me a message. If need be, we can set up a time to discuss over coffee. Making connections is, in the end, the ultimate goal.
Thank you all for your support and attention over the last two years.