Past, present, future lives.

Post by Daniel Kison, Jonathan Kim, Zainab Aliyu

On the night of Wednesday February 1st, we met with Hazelwood residents at Center of Life to conduct research activities and broaden our understanding of the Hazelwood community as a whole. We created an exercise where participants would have to consider one of five topics: family, community, work, play, or education, through the lens of past, present, or future. They would randomly select a card with a word and time period, and draw what the combination of words meant to them while we asked questions and talked about Hazelwood and their lives.

Saudra talked to us about the future of work, where she images people running their own businesses, creating a self-sustaining community.

Hope told us she wanted to be a homicide detective to help her community. She also talked about how she was glad to be able to spend time with her family over the holidays, as some of her friends didn’t have that opportunity.

Pamela selected the prompt work/present, but instead of talking about her job, she told about how she maintains her garden, which is her preferred work. She said she liked having people over at her garden, and told us a story about an old rusted chair she owns. It was left over from the previous owner, but she never wanted to get rid of it. She says she wants to repair it eventually.

Carol talked a lot about her childhood. She said that even though she grew up poor, she never felt poor, and credited this to growing up in a good home and always having friends around. We discussed with her the difference between “neighborhood” and “community” and talked about the lack of a central play space for kids, such as the old rec center or YMCA.

We broke down this information by branching out the main themes from what each person had told us during the activity. The common threads that emerged were a need to bring the community together, a need for kids to have a central meeting place, and the idea of a larger goal for the residents of Hazelwood to strive for. We came up with these three ideas to present:

Turning the current area of the Hazelwood outdoor market into an adaptable space for different types of community activities: Adapting the market space to hold more events would bring the community together and help them bond over business, cooking, crafting, or many other activities. The space would have pop-up shops, a stage, and areas designed to be customizable

Revamping the idea of the rec center, and creating a Hazelwood youth sports league: Hazelwood has been without a “center” for kids to gather and play for a while, and we would bring it back, but incorporate it into a community-focused youth sports league that would bring parents and kids closer together and keep kids occupied and engaged.

Creating a common workshop space for Hazelwood residents to collaborate on making: This idea sprung from the idea of porch culture. People in Hazelwood don’t sit on their porches as much as they used to, and making deck furniture together would be a good way to bring this community-building activity back. After the presentations, we realized that we had focused on the community-building aspect of the project, but not the fact that our design had to be in an exhibit setting. We quickly retooled our ideas and came up with new concepts and ideas to develop in the future:

Porch culture experience: The idea is to create a porch or porch-like setting in Center of Life during the show and have people watch the show or the outdoors. They would be listening to a recording of Hazelwood residents telling their stories overlaid with ambient street noise, creating an immersive experience of sitting on a porch talking to friends and neighbors.

Focusing on the greater Hazelwood community: We wanted to break down the mental barriers that separate Hazelwood, Glen Hazel, and Glenwood in residents’ minds. The theme here is “piecing together,” but the concept is up in the air at this point.

Parents and kids bonding over an activity/shadowbox: We brought forward the idea of connecting parents and children through some kind of building activity where the parents see one view and the children see another. This lead into another idea:

Cooperative game: Some sort of game or activity that two people play and which requires communication and cooperation to complete. This and the previous idea currently lack a guiding theme, but we find the concepts to be interesting in the early stages.

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