Associate // Klopfer Martin Design Group
Senior Planner // Sasaki
Breaking Down the Zoom Barrier; Alternatives to Community Engagement During COVID-19
In 2020, the pandemic pushed projects towards a remote environment. Public hearings and community engagement shifted from in-person events to online platforms. The unexpected benefit was online community meetings were more well attended, but the feedback was more generic and robust conversation was limited. In a time when Zoom fatigue is real, and internet access is unequal, our community engagement toolkit needs more tricks to promote authentic feedback and real connections between designer and neighbor. These tricks can cross the technology spectrum, with analog options like distributing project information through food deliveries for seniors, and digital options like outreach through Instagram and Miro brainstorming boards. This talk will review three projects in the
Boston area. Geneva Park, in Dorchester’s Grove Hall, rethinks community engagement by mixing analog techniques with a social media campaign. With 92% of the population identifying as non-white and over 50% of children living below the federal poverty line, traditional internet-based outreach is only one of many outreach strategies. Grand Junction, in Cambridge, offers an asynchronous feedback loop through virtual open houses, story maps, and a series of “Meet the team” live sessions. Fort Point, in Boston, offers real-time feedback loops embedded in the Zoom format and design-your-own-park games geared towards children.