May 30, 2017

Kounkuey Design Initiative's Carnival for Design

Kounkuey Design Initiative Banner

Enterprise’s Collaborative Action Grants provide organizations with $5,000 to build community agency, engage local voices, and connect to long-term community goals. Round two of the 2017 Collaborative Actions grant cycle are open now. Apply by June 9, 2017.

In this blog post, Kounkuey Design Initiative (KDI), one of 15 recipients of an Enterprise Collaborative Action Grant in 2016, tells the story of their Collaborative Action.

How did this collaborative action capture the spirit of your community?

Kounkuey Design Initiative worked alongside a team of six dedicated Eastern Coachella Valley youths to create a mini design studio, hosting bi-weekly workshops to walk them through the process of designing a “research beacon” and defining methods for conducting and analyzing research on how residents define themselves and their community.

Drawing from visual cues from their community, the team created a research beacon that re-purposed a shaded picnic table used by farmworkers in the agriculture field during lunch. The table provides a short respite from the harsh and hot conditions of the valley. We borrowed and re-designed one of these mobile structures by repainting it and adding paneling to create “booths” for research intake. The Street Team created four methods for gathering research: a short survey, a community mapping exercise, an audio interview and a portrait-taking station.

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The team took the research beacon to a number of different locations throughout Oasis, including the project site, the elementary school, a food distribution site, and two markets near some of the area’s largest trailer parks. During their research, the team interacted with over 150 people, learning about who these individuals are, the challenges they face and the dreams they have for their community.

For the collaborative action, we used this research to create a community event designed around four activities that expanded on the main “data” themes: collective community history, prioritizing community needs, creating dreams and getting involved. In addition to these activities, the street team selected portraits to display and audio bytes to play to represent the community.

How did this collaborative action impact long-term neighborhood goals?

There are no community, public or recreation spaces in Oasis. To address a long-standing desire for more community spaces, this collaborative action was the first step in designing a new 14-acre public space and accompanying community-driven programs (what we call a Productive Public Space) for local residents. This new public space is a partnership with Desert Recreation District, which acquired the land (formerly a school site) after a long advocacy campaign led by the local chapter of Inland Congregations United for Change.

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How did this contribute to increased capacity for your local community?

The collaborative action served two main purposes:

  1. Celebrate the community of Oasis by artfully presenting the community action research produced by the team. 
  2. Kick-off the Productive Public Space participatory design phase.

The activities implemented at the collaborative action allowed residents to provide input for the project direction, a first step in defining the design of the new Productive Public Space to address community interests and needs.

Follow along with this project as it progresses on the Kounkuey Design Initiatives website

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