Sticks, Ropes, Land: Confronting Colonial Practices in Public Space Design is a report that presents an iterative practice for generating hyper-local, community-led responses to public space design.
The project attempts to dismantle tokenistic methods of community consultation in the fields of planning and design, whereby ‘design experts’ consult with local stakeholders in ways that are instrumentalizing or over-simplified. This can limit the depth of information shared, lead to disconnected understandings of site, and perpetuate hierarchical dynamics between designers, planners, and the communities they seek to serve. Instead, Sticks, Ropes, Land investigates strategies that reposition place-based knowledge-holders, or “community stewards” into the role of highly qualified leaders with deep understandings of localized needs, and shift designers into modes of active listening and “being led by”.
A key focus of this project has been to recognize how the concept of public space is defined and upheld by colonial systems – both legal and cultural – and to reconsider this premise. By embedding values of reciprocity, care, and responsibility to the land into our design process, our intent is to serve place-based communities while developing alternative approaches to participatory public space design.
Presented at PIVOT2020 ‘Designing a World of Many Centres’ and Participatory Design Conference (PDC2020): participation(s) otherwise, in collaboration with Charlotte Falk and Jean Chisholm.