“The Future is Behind Us”, so why aren’t we talking to our future?
There has been much commentary about the demographic profile of the community that gets involved in community consultation initiatives. Yes, a large proportion of participants are in the over 50s age group. I am not criticising this involvement, but my concern is that it is not fully representative of the community at large. It is essential that we actively start a conversation with and actively start listening to our younger citizens.
My children constantly bring this message home to me. We hold consultation events that are often dominated by discussions involving parking and traffic, yet my 14 year old son would rather travel by bus than car. He can successfully navigate his way around Sydney on public transport. Learning to drive is not a priority to him.
My daughter when I made the comment pointing to a row of Victorian terrace houses saying “I would love to live in one” turned to me and said “Why? I would much rather live in a bright modern apartment than a dark terrace.”
Capturing these views is an essential part of community consultation to inform our strategic plan making.
For my daughter, it is important to understand why some properties have heritage significance and are an important part of our urban fabric. Similarly, conversations should be had with our young people about how we can enhance their public transport experience so that they keep enjoying public transport and not make the transition to car travel when they become young adults and enter the workforce.
‘The future is behind us’, so let’s start understanding what our young citizens are thinking.
Here’s a sneak peek of what we have in store…
Consultation with Children
Harnessing the recent trends of pop-up retail, entertainment and participatory art, Urban Concepts in 2014 is now in the process of designing a new collaborative and engaging approach to contribute to the field of consultation with adolescents and young children. Traditionally adolescents and children have not been active participants in urban planning discussions outside the realm of play space design. This approach shifts this thinking to a broader understanding of the sustainability value of asking the future population of cities about the future of their cities. Founded in the theory of the 1990 UN Child Friendly Cities Initiative, this approach not only recognises that children are active individuals in public spaces, but are also insightful and influential citizens.
Capturing creative ideas through social media, themed walks, participatory public workshops and interesting locations, Urban Concepts will invite children and adolescents to be actively engaged in consultation events.
Take a look at some of the postcard designs created by participants at one of our recent children’s workshops when we asked primary school children in Western Sydney to identify what they loved to do in their local area. As you can see, skateboarding, playgrounds and soccer fields all featured strongly.
We Love Pop-Up!
We have added the pop-up workshop to our communication repertoire at Urban Concepts. The successful pop-up format builds upon the current trend of creating a short term hot spot of energy and activity to build a platform for spontaneous engagement. Pop-up is speedy and through its tempo creates a buzz and excitement. It is this buzz that new entrepreneurs want to tap into when they test a new product in the marketplace.
We believe the concept of ‘pop-up retail’ is directly transferrable to community consultation, by its ability to test new concepts and capture new ideas for urban living through spontaneous conversations that can occur outside of forums which can become clouded by minority interest groups.
Clients working with Urban Concepts in 2014 will have the opportunity to include this exciting initiative as part of a tailored communications approach.
Look-out for Urban Concepts pop-up design workshops as we take to the streets asking for your input on our urban development projects!
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Featured Image: Community Walks held by Urban Concepts for the City of Canada Bay Community Enhancement Plan 2013