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Talking Public Space with Public Allies

By, Renae Reynolds

The POC Survival Guide began with an growing urgency to enrich  the ways in which we have come to understand the pairing of race and space. Growing this understanding in lived experience and storytelling we have conducted interviews and workshops with individuals and small groups. On December 15, 2014 Design+Culture Lab conducted a workshop with participants of Americorps, Public Allies New York (PANY) Program. Public Allies advances new leadership to strengthen communities, nonprofits and civic participants. Each year Allies complete a 10 month apprenticeship in local nonprofit placement sights. Upon graduation some allies choose to apply for reentry into a second year on a specialized training track. Members of the 2014 second year cohort, contributed their insights to the development of the POC Survival Guide to Public Space. The POC workshop was an amazing opportunity to collaborate with the organization that helped to strengthen the social awareness of CO CEO’s Joy Davis and Renae Reynolds, both former Allies.

Participants in the POC Workshop completed the POC survey and a mapping exercise to gauge their public space experiences within their individual neighborhoods. After an illuminating discussion on issues such as safety and self preservation tactics, the allies compiled their stories on a larger Citywide map. The map made it possible to root their experiences geospatially and compare stories. As participants were able to connect their tales with tangible points on the map they broadened their concerns to include urban transformation, recognizing the ways space change overtime and how that affected feelings of welcomeness, inclusion or exclusion, through demographic and aesthetic shifts.

Design+Culture Lab continues to seek more opportunities for POC to connect and contribute to the development of the POC Survival Guide. You can keep up to date with our progress here. Be on the look out for the audio clips which will soon be available on the website. Keep sending us your stories via the 

POC Survey online or contact us if you would like to plan a POC workshop or an individual interview.