test post 91: Media & Text Block

test post

We have a human propensity when planning to focus on the centre of a field, on the majority; especially when we believe resources to be scarce. We think we need to select “the best,” the winning solution, the highest impact, the biggest priority. We think innovation and quality arise from winner-takes-all competition. Our metrics and evidence are about finding the biggest number, or the average. This usually means we ignore or lose sight of the periphery, the minorities, and the people that find themselves at the margins.

This blinkered vision denies our human differences and the associated, entangled complexity of a city. It ignores weak signals and inevitable change. We assume doing anything else would be less efficient, too costly or complicated. If we do address the needs of people that are not served by planning for the majority, it is often as an after-thought and segregated from the default; as a social responsibility or out of charity.

A family of three in the middle of a signaled crossing. The father uses a scooter, the mother is with their upset toddler daughter in a stroller but is turning back to pick up a dropped stuffed animal. There are sensors in the pavement and the pedestrian signal light is lit. The father is saying, “Leave it, the light’s going to change!” while the daughter cries out, “Lamby!”
Can sensors help make crossing the street safer? This is just one of the ten stories in Journeys through the DIA.

We have a human propensity when planning to focus on the centre of a field, on the majority; especially when we believe resources to be scarce. We think we need to select “the best,” the winning solution, the highest impact, the biggest priority. We think innovation and quality arise from winner-takes-all competition. Our metrics and evidence are about finding the biggest number, or the average. This usually means we ignore or lose sight of the periphery, the minorities, and the people that find themselves at the margins.

This blinkered vision denies our human differences and the associated, entangled complexity of a city. It ignores weak signals and inevitable change. We assume doing anything else would be less efficient, too costly or complicated. If we do address the needs of people that are not served by planning for the majority, it is often as an after-thought and segregated from the default; as a social responsibility or out of charity.

A family of three in the middle of a signaled crossing. The father uses a scooter, the mother is with their upset toddler daughter in a stroller but is turning back to pick up a dropped stuffed animal. There are sensors in the pavement and the pedestrian signal light is lit. The father is saying, “Leave it, the light’s going to change!” while the daughter cries out, “Lamby!”

It doesn’t mean we will “give in to” or “be hijacked” by extremes. In fact, designing with people who are diverse and not “like us” protects us from polarization and extremism.

So, when we evaluate or collectively create a plan for a smart community we should start with the needs and realities of people that currently find themselves at the periphery, not part of the majority or any large number. We should do this without preconceived assumptions, hypotheses or notional frameworks. Start with real life stories and realities, rather than solutions looking for a justification. This will inevitably create a city where we can all thrive.