We create tools for generating and documenting dialogue, engaging unexpected participants, and prompting curiosity. These tools function in a variety of contexts, opening up a dialogue to a broad range of people. While any one of these approaches offers an aspect of public engagement, it is the combination of context, tools, and curious objects that provides the opportunity to engage a diverse group of participants. We are interested in allowing the process of working through complex problems to become visible.
We create custom bicycle trailers that can serve as zine-making studios, radio stations, and temporary exhibition spaces. These curious objects allow us to move to different locations: visit schools, community centers, and street corners to set up opportunities for neighborhood residents to participate without making a trip to a specific location.
We lead multi-modal tours for groups of all ages and mobility. These tours allow us to discuss topics in the spaces where they are relevant, such as identifying and using native plants where they grow or discussing proposed infrastructure where it is designed. Embodiment is important; being in place allows us to feel what a space is like, move through space, and even create a spectacle.
publication as tool
Publications can allow for interaction in public meetings and workshops, and help to walk participants through a series of questions, an exercise, or ask them to share their experiences. These publications can be collected to develop an archive or they can be more self-reflective, allowing participants to think more deeply about themselves within the context of a project.
Using utility flags, which typically demarcate invisible infrastructure (like gas and sewer lines) we ask questions that are not normally addressed. We are interested in taking the expected and making it into something new.
We develop large scale asset maps. These maps help visualize both what the community has as well as pointing to neighborhoods wants and needs. In addition to asset maps, large scale maps act as facilitation tools to discuss the challenges and opportunities in public infrastructure.
drawing a bike from memory
The phrase “Like Riding a Bicycle” is about never forgetting that which we know. We invite participants to make their own drawings of bicycles from memory, showing how complicated knowledge and memory can be, as well as the humor present in mistakes (“that bike won’t go anywhere!”).
Ripple Effects Mapping
We help our partners understand the impacts of complex projects through using a modified ripple effects mapping process alongside other tools for project evaluation. These tools are participatory and move beyond counting the number of people who attend events and instead map relationship building, unexpected outcomes, and opportunities for future engagement.
We collect audio narratives from children recollecting how they learned to ride a bike as well as stories from adults about teaching others to ride. When shown, the audio narratives are pedal powered; they only play for a participant riding a bicycle.
In a race a participant wears an identifying numbered bib as a way to distinguish themselves from the group. Using the visual language of the the bicycle race bib to label participants with their skills they become both a part of the collective event and distinguished by their individual skill set. These are used both as a wearable item at events and as an archive of the collective knowledge of participants in installations and projections.
bicycle safety flags
We create tools that are simultaneously functional and act as non-traditional data visualizations. These safety flags make participants in our rides more visible to traffic, while also allowing others to see how they identify. They also allow us to make sure we do not leave anyone behind on a group ride.