Our Milk and Cookies event on First Friday was a really helpful opportunity to listen and learn from the Garfield/Friendship community we hope to build and design The Commons with. We created three categories of tags: “I need”, “I want”, and “I am”. We had two locations: one at the Latham Street Commons space and one on Penn. Avenue. At both locations, we had participating members fill out our handmade tags and attached them to a public "listening station".
Speaking directly to the community about the central issues of who they are, what they need, and what they wish for allowed us to better understand and hone in our goals for The Commons.
We heard from the community that there is a divide between the community (physically manifested by Penn Ave), and a wish to have more opportunities to engage with each other. We also heard that the community wants a place safe for children to play; a place that will contribute to healthy food practices; and a place of learning and sharing.
While the event confirmed our assumptions that designing for a diverse socio-cultural-economic range is not going to be easy, we are also excited to engage with the complexity of the neighborhood. We want the Commons to bridge these real gaps of the Garfield and Friendship communities and create safe spaces that give the neighborhood opportunities to connect and grow new ideas.
An additional challenge will be creating a self-sustaining and financially independent model. We are looking into creating a commercial rooftop farm with community spaces underneath. These spaces can be multi-purpose and host workshops, educational labs, and/or be small rotating store fronts.
More to come. If you have ideas, thoughts, resources you would like to share, please join us during the next First Friday on November 07.