From late July through early September, four community workshops were held in Pittsburgh to create awareness of The City of Tomorrow Challenge and engage community members in ideation activities related to mobility in the region. The workshops were designed and led by Dustin Stiver of OpenIDEO and his team of local facilitators. Each workshop focused on a different aspect of mobility, but they all followed a similar structure: share information about the Challenge, ground the conversation in the experiences of local community members, and give participants the tools and space to design solutions to the mobility challenges facing the region.
More than 40 community members attended each of the workshops. It was nice to see a mixture of both familiar and new faces at each of the events, with participants who attended multiple sessions able to share insights from previous workshops and help get the newcomers up to speed. Representatives from Ford, OpenIDEO, the City’s Department of Mobility and Infrastructure, AT&T, Dell, Microsoft and the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership were also in attendance at all of the workshops to listen to the community stories and be a part of the resulting discussions, helping to ensure that the people giving their evenings to be a part of this conversation were having their voices heard.
Over the course of the four working sessions, ten local residents shared their personal mobility stories, each offering a unique perspective about travelling around Pittsburgh. It soon became clear that transportation issues in the region went far beyond the well-acknowledged geographical hurdles and accessibility challenges for people with physical disabilities. They stemmed from socioeconomic status, race, sexuality, and gender, just to name a few. Families with children felt restricted to cars as their only mode of transportation. People that worked nontraditional hours often did not have access to or didn’t feel safe using public transit late at night. No matter what audience you tried to address, there were improvements required before they would have a seamless, welcoming, and intuitive commute on a regular basis.
While it was apparent that our work was cut out for us, our intention was also clear: bring humanity to mobility. Participants were invigorated by the needs being shared by their peers. They worked as groups to identify common themes and collaboratively brainstorm solutions to issues the community members had come forward to publicly share. Many walked into the workshop with one idea in mind and walked out with an entirely new one, or at a minimum, one that was a hybrid of their original idea and the result of the discussions at the event. And that was OK, because these working sessions were meant to just get the ball rolling, to unearth the barriers to mobility being experienced by people all over the city and then give them a place to share their innovative solutions.
As we approach the deadline for the Pittsburgh Propose phase on October 10, it is exciting to see some of the ideas that were derived from this community process become submissions. It is also great to see the online platform becoming an extension of the working sessions, with people adding their own suggestions, related experiences, and desire to connect with like-minded civic leaders by commenting on the local posts.
Want to learn more about what was discussed at the Pittsburgh workshops? Be sure to check out the graphic recaps and photos from each of the events below! To submit your own ideas and solutions that would bring humanity to mobility click here.
Meeting 1: The Wheel Mill in Pittsburgh’s Homewood Neighborhood
Meeting 2: Elsie H. Hillman Auditorium at the Kaufmann Center in Pittsburgh’s Hill District
Meeting 3: Alloy 26 in Pittsburgh’s Northside
Meeting 4: Coro Center for Civic Leadership in Pittsburgh’s Southside