(Unedited) Podcast Transcript 335: A Framework for Inclusive Healthy Places
This week on Talking Headways we’re joined by Sharon Roerty, Senior Program Officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and Maki Kawaguchi, a Director at Gehl to talk about the Inclusive Healthy Places Framework. Sharon and Maki talk about the importance of creating spaces that bring dignity to all users, the importance of evaluating existing spaces, and creating a data driven and people first approach to creating inclusive healthy places.
For a complete (and for now unedited) transcript, click below the fold:
Jeff Wood (2m 7s):
Well Sharon Roerty and Maki Kawaguchi. Welcome to the podcast. Thank you for having us well, thanks for being here before we get started. Can you all tell us a little bit about yourself? We’ll start with Maki and then we’ll go to Sharon.
Maki Kawaguchi (2m 18s):
Sure. So I’m actually Joe Gucci. I am a director at an urban design and strategy consultancy named Gail. And my background is in both architecture and urban design and really have a passion for all things, cities, whether it’s about, you know, community building about transportation design, but in our Gail, we really focus on sustainability health and, and inclusion. And so I’m very excited to have this conversation with you today.
Sharon Roerty (2m 47s):
And hi, thank you for having me. I’m Sharon Roerty. I’m a senior program officer at the Robert Wood Johnson foundation. I work within the foundation. I work on a small team called global ideas for us solutions and look outside the U S for inspiration policies, programs, things that are working again, outside the U S that we think we can bring inside the U S and sometimes just by going outside the U S we get another perspective and we bring that back in. We bring it into the foundation so that our colleagues can learn from it. We bring the learnings back to our grantees, and we also use other platforms to get them out and engage people in again.
Sharon Roerty (3m 27s):
And that sort of discovery is the solutions that we’re finding. My background is in urban and environmental planning. I grew up in a city I’ve always lived in and around cities. And for me, since I was 10 years old, a big challenge has been starting in one place and trying to figure out how to get to another place miles away and how many different ways you can get there. Well, we
Jeff Wood (3m 49s):
Appreciate your expertise. This is actually a part four of our series on health and equitable Tod or transitory communities, I should say. So we talked a little bit about the social determinants of health with Dr. Georges Benjamin. We discussed transit’s response to the pandemic with David Huffaker in Pittsburgh. And we talked about building community health outcomes through focused development, near transit with Nelda Ruiz and Rose Gray in Philadelphia. So we’re excited to have you all on to talk about the subjects that we’re talking about today. You know, like I said, the listeners and I have been diving into this topic about health a little bit. How did you all get involved in this work specifically? I know Sharon, you talked about, you know, when you were 10 years old, you started focusing on this stuff, but how did you all get involved in this topic matter?
Sharon Roerty (4m 26s):
Well, working for Robert Wood Johnson foundation, we’re the largest health philanthropy in the United States. So health is what we do really. And we work through the prism of culture, health, cultural health framework. The social determinants of health are really important to us equity. We, you can’t have health unless you have health equity. So that’s my connection. And I look as a planner, I look at the connection between the built environment and health. So
Maki Kawaguchi (4m 53s):
For me, maybe I can share a little bit about my background and my story and how I got here, because obviously there’s many things that influenced how I got here and why I care about health equity, but I’m a Japanese person who grew up in Madrid in Spain. And, you know, from an early age, I was exposed to many different cultures in urban environment. So I would say from an early age, I was very aware of the different city experiences. And so of course I grew up in a very European city with, you know, beautiful boulevards and plazas, but also at the same time, in my visits to Japan, I would be explosive these very organic, urban mythologies, which is more common in Asian countries. But I would say that it wasn’t until I turned 18 and I moved to Los Angeles.
Maki Kawaguchi (5m 38s):
I’d never been there before. It was the first time I moved to Los Angeles to go to college. And I was really actually shocked and fascinated by LA model of like city planning and urban growth. I really had not seen anything like that in my entire life, growing up in Europe and visiting Japan. And so, you know, I I’d say like growing up in Madrid, similar to Sharon, what you were saying about when you were at 10 years. So do you know when I was 10, I was walking by myself to school taking public transportation because it was very safe and I had no concerns, right. And of course, as a teenager, I could, I could go around the city without any concerns in the city was for me to explore.
Maki Kawaguchi (6m 19s):
But then when I moved to LA at the age of 18, suddenly that freedom of moving around the city was taken away from me because I didn’t have a driver’s license, but I also didn’t have a car. And I was completely dependent on my friends to take me around the city. So I felt very restrained in how I experienced the city. And I will say the other thing that was really shocking to me when I moved to LA, it was to just see how segregated neighborhoods were by race, culture and socioeconomic status. And I had really never experienced that kind of stark contrast in the cities that I had grown up. So, you know, I was very curious about why does this happen and how do we change this?
Maki Kawaguchi (7m 3s):
And, you know, oftentimes in the U S we know about how, depending on what zip code you live in, or even if you just cross one street, the experience and the built manscape can completely change. Right. And the inequalities in the cities were so clearly demarcated for me. So blatantly obvious. And I was like, how do we change this? How do we change this? And really thinking that, understanding that, you know, these kinds of city planning would Durham by design, it was through design that these kinds of inequalities have come to place. And so, you know, Robert Wood Johnson, Gail, when we started collaborating, we really focused on this idea that place really matters.
Maki Kawaguchi (7m 47s):
And this integral for both the individual and community health. And so that’s sort of a long story, but I wanted to sort of give you like how ed explained to you sort of my interest and passion for the work that I do today.
Jeff Wood (7m 59s):
Yeah. I love it. That’s awesome. We appreciate long stories. Well, so you all have been working on the inclusive, healthy places framework. Can you explain a little bit more what it is and what you all set out to do when you started it?
Sharon Roerty (8m 12s):
Oh, well, let me give you the origin story of the inclusive, healthy places framework. So I work on, as I said, the global ideas for us solutions team. So I’m always thinking about places and the connections to the built environment, but really the inspiration for this work came when I wasn’t expecting it, I was on a trip to Australia. I was in Melbourne Australia actually to visit my daughter. I hadn’t seen her in a year. And she asked me to meet her at this place called Federation square. She had been working all night and so I was going to meet her there. So I’m standing, waiting for her. And, you know, I’m really excited about seeing her. And I’m looking around, I’m thinking this place is different.
Sharon Roerty (8m 53s):
You know, there’s something really special about place. I didn’t know it at the time, but it’s built on top of a rail station. So you have that factor. You had bus lines all around yet. All these modes of transportation, all around Federation square, you had these, all these restaurants and other shops that opened up to it. You had fire pits going on. You had all, you know, benches, all sorts. There was a park, it was a public square. It was a place for business. It was a place for transportation. So I knew as I’m looking around scanning the square, that’s something, you know, I’m looking for my daughter, but something special is going on here. And over the, over the course of my trip to Melbourne, which was about two weeks long, I kept coming back to Federation square and kept visiting it.
Sharon Roerty (9m 35s):
And each time I saw her more pieces of it. So I knew it was, you know, again, someplace really, really special. One of the things is it’s open 24 hours a day. It has free wifi for all. Anyone could get on the wifi. Anyone could use the restrooms, free public restrooms that are open 24 hours a day. It had fire pits that anyone can use. There were no sites. I looked for them. There were no signs that said, you know, you can’t do this. You can’t do that. No loitering, no bike, riding, no signs, that prohibited activity. So again, over the course of two weeks, I knew this place was special. And that’s what set me on the course for the inclusive, healthy places framework.
Sharon Roerty (10m 16s):
I, I thought about it in terms of placemaking, which is a practice we do in the U S and throughout the world, planners engage in placemaking. But what was it, what were the activities that led to this place, being this place? What’s the history of the place? What’s the context of the place and how do we learn from it and how do they do in my mind still thinking about placemaking, how do they do placemaking in other parts of the world? So I started having conversations with different people that I knew and didn’t know that that practice planning and what I figured was placemaking. And one of those conversations was with some folks from Gail, and as the conversation went on, we, we embarked on this project.
Sharon Roerty (10m 59s):
We didn’t know it at the time, but developing the inclusive, healthy places framework. And we set it out as a tool for evaluating spaces so that we could know beyond design. It’s not just about the design of a place, but beyond the design. What got to the design? How do you create a process for inclusive, healthy places? How do you sustain it? How do you measure it? How do you value the history of the place? That was really what got us started?
Maki Kawaguchi (11m 27s):
Maybe I’ll just add to that. Sharon, the, the guide is really meant to be both a data-driven and very people first approach to, as Sharon said, evaluating and creating a healthy, inclusive public spaces. And it’s both, you know, a process and an outcome for us. And it really serves as a tool of metrics that different audiences who work at the intersection of health equity and the physical environment could use as a tool and a roadmap. And it’s not meant to be a prescriptive tool, but really a guide and, you know, start to have a conversation and have shared language between different audiences who work both in design planning, policy making, but also health practice.
Sharon Roerty (12m 9s):
And as we got into the process, I just want that we dropped the term placemaking because that’s not what this was about. Placemaking has some connotations that aren’t necessarily positive. It doesn’t always value the place. At least it’s viewed that way and equity and inclusion. Isn’t always part of that process. So we really wanted to make that part of the process. So it became inclusive, healthy places because equity and inclusion were the drivers within the work that we wanted to do and how to lift up this process that had more to it than placemaking. It was value driven.
Jeff Wood (12m 43s):
Yeah. And why is that evaluation so important? We see place-making and we see urban design guides and those types of things, but why is the evaluation such a key part of this document and the process as well?
Maki Kawaguchi (12m 53s):
The evaluation is basically data and we use both quantitative and qualitative data. So we, we’re not stuck to just one type of data collection, but the data really helps us monitor and evaluate outcomes. Right. But also it helps us understand the baseline condition. So we always try to collect data from the baseline condition and compare it after a project is implemented, and it’s a way to sustain and evaluate and continue to tweak and improve any project. And without the data, it’s oftentimes you have a project there’s the ribbon cutting, and that’s the end of it. But the reality of a successful public space doesn’t end at the ribbon cutting, but that’s really actually one of the beginnings of the success of the project.
Maki Kawaguchi (13m 39s):
And that monitoring is really key to it. So
Sharon Roerty (13m 42s):
Often in my work as well. How will I know what is a healthy place? How will I know what is a healthy, inclusive place? What is equity in place? How will I know and how do I measure it? How do we sustain it over time? So having a tool and a methodology that allows people in communities, and they don’t have to be professionally trained, but people that can collect data, you know, at the beginning of their process, in the middle of their process. And then as the place goes on, public spaces are living, breathing spaces. So how can it be sustained by the community as a healthy, inclusive place? You know, how will we know when we get there and then how do we keep it going? So that’s what the framework does.
Sharon Roerty (14m 22s):
And that’s why the evaluation piece is so important.
Jeff Wood (14m 26s):
And that’s a good point as well, because sometimes it feels like it’s hard to get everybody on the same page in the report. It’s mentioned that health professionals and urban planning professionals, sometimes they’re speaking different languages. And so trying to get everybody on the same page seems to be one of the hard parts as well.
Maki Kawaguchi (14m 40s):
That’s absolutely right. And the framework is really intend to be across sector framework that helps different, you know, both departments and audiences use data as a common language, because oftentimes what you see is, you know, especially in the cities, you have different departments working within their own silos and collecting their own data, but that data is not necessarily cross evaluated. Or for example, you know, the example that I always give is oftentimes department of transportation’s collect data about the number of big Coles or how many new linear feed of bike trails they’ve created, but that data is important, but it’s also equally important to understand who is using that, right.
Maki Kawaguchi (15m 23s):
Not just the product, but also the users. And so this is why it’s a very much a people focused approach. The data is also reflective of that people focus approach. And, you know, we want to understand well, who is using the parks, who’s using the bike trails because, you know, we always talk about the ratio and representation of people. So, you know, we talk about the gender equality or age representation. And we know that when women and children are represented more in public spaces, it’s typically perceived as a much safer place. So if we look at a bike trail and we only see, you know, young men and the age of twenties using it, it’s not equitable. It’s not, you know, it’s not for everyone, but if we start seeing women and children also using those bike trails, we understand that the infrastructure is there to create a safer environment so that women like I, as a woman, feel comfortable riding my bike in the urban jungle of Manhattan.
Maki Kawaguchi (16m 19s):
So the, who is really important too,
Sharon Roerty (16m 23s):
The data in the framework, there’s four principles and there’s nearly 200 metrics measures, right? And some of those measures are our hard data that’s available, you know, public databases and other measures are, are measures that people that just regular people can go and collect. And that is as important as the hard data that’s out there as the, say the traffic data or anything else that exists in publicly collected databases. But even within those metrics there’s room, this is not a hard and fast rule within those metrics. The important part is at the outset to say, what do we want to measure as the community groups that engage with us? What do we want to measure over time?
Sharon Roerty (17m 3s):
What’s important to us. And then how can we get that data? Citizen science can be a really important part of this tool. And by citizen science, again is how just community people can go and collect the data who’s in the park who is in the public space. Who’s traveling through the space at different periods of time, clipboard type data. Yeah. I
Jeff Wood (17m 25s):
Have a, I have a copy of the color wheel here of all the stuff in it. There’s a lot on there. How do folks decide what they want to focus on and how do folks go through those for the context and the process and the sustain and the design and program parts of the data and figure out which pieces they want to collect, because there is a lot in here to go through.
Maki Kawaguchi (17m 46s):
Yes, it’s a very dense framework. There’s a lot in there, but again, you know, it’s not meant to be prescriptive or, you know, you’re not meant to use every single driver or methadone metric, but it’s really meant to be a guide. And so I would say the idea is that if you’re really focused on like initial stages of your project and you really want to understand context, then you can go through those different drivers, understand, which are the most applicable, like Sharon said, it’s meant to be decided with the community, with the people, with the stakeholders, right? So it’s really more of a menu than a prescriptive tool and they go through it and decide what’s important to them. And so again, like if they’re focused on understanding context, they can look through that lens of the principle of context and then go through that.
Maki Kawaguchi (18m 32s):
If they’re really interested in the engagement component, there’s a whole sector of the principle about engagement, right. And there’s different ways to engage. So again, it’s hard to say, it’s not like a formula. It’s not, you have to use this and this, but I will say, ideally, everybody goes through the four principles, the four facets of the wheel. So that they’re not just focusing again on just design, as you know, I’m an architect and urban designer, and there is a tendency of architects who just focus on design, right? We tend to sort of not think so much about the process or the context, or even what happens after the project is completed. So the wheel helps you remember and remind people that there’s these four principles that we should be aware of and definitely apply as much as we can
Sharon Roerty (19m 17s):
With the data as you’re collecting data. And you work your way through the various metrics, too. It’s as important to remember what you collect, who you see, who’s like in the space, if you’re collecting sort of users of the space, who’s not there. And if you look at the metrics, they’ll help you punch out. Not only what’s there, what’s not there. And when we’re talking about equity inclusion, that’s really, really important. The data that you see, you also have to ask the questions. What are we not seeing?
Jeff Wood (19m 44s):
You mentioned, you know, the, the way that urban designers and architects and even planners like myself, usually do things, but you all work with a number of different partners. How have each of the partners that you’ve been working with, the four partners that have been implementing this, been responding to the process?
Maki Kawaguchi (19m 58s):
Yes. So we have currently working with four us organizations and over the next two years to really start to take, adopt and take the framework and use it, put it into action. And so those four organizations are APA, American planning association, LISC, local initiative, support corporation, New Jersey, community capital and RPA, national recreation and parks association. So, you know, many of them are membership organizations that work around the country and can really influence them members. And so that’s a way to scale and disseminate the screamer. Right? So two of the organizations, for example, APA and RPA are really focused on creating a guide and a toolkit using this framework to integrate and integrate some of the principles and metrics into their work, right?
Maki Kawaguchi (20m 47s):
It’s a tool within their organization that they’re adopting and disseminating. On the other hand, LISC, for example, is a national thunder, nonprofit, and they’re working with two community partners in Washington, DC and Houston on to public space projects. So they’re concrete projects that they’re working on, and they’re looking at the framework and seeing which components can they apply in their process in designing this public space. And they’re very much focused on, you know, community understanding community and engagement, right? So that’s a way that they’re using it. And then New Jersey community capital is a community development finance institution focused on community-wide development plan for the city of Patterson, and you can use Jersey.
Maki Kawaguchi (21m 28s):
So they were actually using the framework to really reshape the way its own organization is investing in community. So they’re applying it in different ways, but the beauty of this is that again, there’s not one way to use it, but there’s many different ways to use it. And our hope is that through partnering with the organizations like these, the ICP framework can be scaled and disseminated amongst a wider audience.
Sharon Roerty (21m 55s):
And it’s the Robert Wood Johnson foundation’s hope that by helping to fund these applications and the scaling of the framework that other organizations, membership organizations, community-driven organizations, that they see it, and then they get their own ideas about how to use the framework and how they can adapt it and adopt it for their own needs.
Jeff Wood (22m 15s):
And what are you hearing from communities who are using the framework? Like what’s been some of the feedback that you’ve gotten
Maki Kawaguchi (22m 21s):
LISC for example, is they are working directly with community members and applying the framework. And of course it is a very dense framework as we’ve mentioned. And so there’s a lot to dissect, but it’s received well, you know, it’s essentially also bringing awareness of how to be more intentionally inclusive in both the community engagement and design. And so I think it’s been helpful for them as a tool to just bring awareness, not just for themselves, but to the community on how to approach and what are again, what are the metrics that we should care about so far. So, you know, pretty good. We’ll see how it goes.
Jeff Wood (22m 58s):
The pandemic impacted any of this work specifically. I mean, I imagine it has, but has there any way that you’ve seen that you’ve had to change ideas or thoughts or process things differently or react differently to the situation that’s going on around, around
Sharon Roerty (23m 11s):
The world? Well, I think the pandemic has really created greater interest in public spaces as I’m in communities across the country and across the world have really, you know, thought differently about their public spaces. They’ve had to use them in different ways. You know, everything from it’s, you know, people think of public spaces and they think of parks, but ah, the pandemic we’re thinking about all sorts of public spaces, it could be the public space in front of the municipal building. It could be, you know, the parking lot behind the municipal building where now people have to wait and gather, you know, line up to file a building permit or do a whole slew of transactions.
Sharon Roerty (23m 52s):
These now are looked at and understood to be public spaces. So the importance of public spaces is really come into view during the pandemic. And I think communities too are thinking okay, as we emerge, hopefully emerge from COVID. How do we think about these spaces differently? Because they are important community assets and perhaps the way we’ve done things in the past, do not have to be the way we think do things going forward. We’ve seen how we’ve been able to use public spaces and cut through red tape because now we need those public spaces. We don’t have the indoor spaces. So local governments have been quicker and more prone to cutting through some of the red tape that they had before.
Sharon Roerty (24m 34s):
In terms of programming space, the streets, the sidewalks, people now have a greater understanding of how important they are as part of public spaces, the public realm. It’s not just thinking about a geographically defined space. So in that way, the pandemic has, has put a, put a new light on our public spaces and broadened our idea of these public spaces. It’s also, I think, gotten a lot of people thinking about how important these public spaces have to be as welcoming spaces for all people, because we know that’s not true too, and that we need quality public spaces. We need quality green spaces for people to go to.
Sharon Roerty (25m 16s):
What’s important for them mental and physical and social health. So I think there’s a, again, a greater awareness of the importance of public space, the relationship to health or physical, mental, and social health, and hopefully an awakening of how we program and invest in these spaces.
Maki Kawaguchi (25m 37s):
I get, we’ve always said, streets are also part of the public realm. And I think with a pandemic that awareness has heightened in. It’s a great time for us to rethink about how we design the street. And again, I want to emphasize the point that Sharon said about who we invite because public spaces are not created equal, or it’s not the same for everyone. So I think with that greater awareness of not just the pandemic, but the social justice movement that has been happening in the past year, I think we have to be much more intentional about how we designed the spaces. So we invite for everyone, you know, people of different race, color, age, gender, these are all important things to consider in our design of public
Sharon Roerty (26m 19s):
Realm. One of the things we learned in the process of learning about inclusive, healthy spaces is when we went outside the U S to look at places, the difference lingering the invitation to linger in, in space. And we say it, I mean, you know, you can see it in places in the U S but you really see it. Like you go to plazas in Italy, certain places that a lot of cities in Europe, the invitation is there to linger. The idea is to get people to stay so often in the us, our public spaces is about getting people to move through them and not so much to linger. And in fact, in a lot of public spaces, what you see are prohibitions about lingering, right, are called loitering.
Sharon Roerty (27m 4s):
And we have laws that say you can’t loiter in a public space. You can not spend an excessive amount of time in a public space and what we’ve seen too. And particularly in the last year, it’s gone on for a long time, but in the last year at greater awareness around how these laws are applied. So for me as a white woman, lingering in a public space, being in a public space, I may not be challenged for a person of color. They are more likely to be challenged in that space. So what does that mean? How then does that reflect the values of the community? The inclusive, healthy places framework gives us a chance to peel through that onion, to maybe take a look at the laws and how we invite people in our spaces and how we disinvite and how we apply the laws and the values and the priorities within our public spaces.
Jeff Wood (27m 58s):
Yeah, that’s a really important point. You know, we talk a lot about on the podcast and we have a Monday show where we talk about a lot of different ideas and news and information. And what we’ve been talking about recently is the freeway fights that are going on in places like Portland and Houston and Austin all over the country. And one of the things that we stress is the idea that we’re trying to go to a place, not through a place. And I think that reflection of public spaces as the same good ideas that we should be focusing on in public spaces are the same good ideas that we should be focusing on in transportation. And they all interconnect. And it’s really important that we kind of understand that, that we’re trying to go to these places, not necessarily through them, because if we go through them, we’re ignoring them. We’re othering them where we’re not focusing on their wellbeing and their needs.
Sharon Roerty (28m 40s):
Yes. And we need to think about the whole journey if we’re using public transportation. So you start at a bus stop or a train stop, or in a transit center, however you’re getting there. And then maybe you’re making a transfer somewhere and maybe you’re getting off at another place and going through a park or a Plaza you’re using the sidewalks, you’re using public space to get to the next, whether it’s a transit space or a library or some other public space, you’re moving through spaces. And in each one of these spaces is a public space in and of itself. So how does the whole journey look and how do you feel in that, in those public spaces, how might someone else feel in those public spaces?
Sharon Roerty (29m 22s):
How do you feel during the course of the day in those public spaces? Does it change, you know, does it feel better or worse? And again, who’s there at different times of the day. And how does that make you feel? How do the other people that should be in this space feel? So it’s really important to think about it. It’s more than just one geographically defined place. And as you know, as part of a longer journey and movements throughout a day in these various public spaces.
Jeff Wood (29m 50s):
Yeah. I would agree with that, but that also speaks a little bit to the conflicts that might occur when you’re trying to plan the spaces or trying to be inclusive about spaces. How do you deal with conflicts that might arise between different stakeholders who might have different goals for place?
Sharon Roerty (30m 4s):
In our process, we had many people engaged with the process while we were developing the inclusive, healthy places framework. And when I say many different people from all different kinds of backgrounds and professional people that are, you know, planners, architects, designers, finance people, community activists, you know, regular citizens that we pulled into the process, the thing that galvanized everyone that brought everyone together was dignity that we can all agree on. Whether or not a space provides dignity for you and for other people. And that was, that was when we came together and really made some progress. And when we can, we can look at a space or at a series of public spaces.
Sharon Roerty (30m 46s):
And it does that space provide dignity for me, for my neighbor, for my sister, my brother. However you define your sister and your brother, my child, my mother, my grandmother. And when you start thinking about dignity, you have a whole nother lens to think about the public spaces. And that was really the, the value of the virtue that we all came together on.
Maki Kawaguchi (31m 9s):
I love that. The word dignity, I think it’s so key. You know, we don’t use those words in design and planning, right. But I mean, we talk a lot about social coexistence in our work. And part of that is communal dignity, right. That we can live together. And I just wanted to bring up an example of another body of work that we did in San Jose, where we essentially created a study to understand the coexistence in public space. And it essentially was an engagement tool for creating shared spaces with homeless people on house people, right? And oftentimes there is this perception that, you know, a certain group of people equate to some bad behavior, but this tool really helped us understand that that’s not necessarily two, but really separate a group of people to the antisocial behavior.
Maki Kawaguchi (32m 0s):
Right. And so disassociate behavior to people and not make that those previous assumptions. Right? And so this tool really helped people awaken and see that antisocial behavior doesn’t only happen through the homeless people that they think are the bad people, but oftentimes they are just people who, who, who needed a place to hang out, right? And they’re not actually engaging in bad behavior, but we have a perception as a society, right? That homeless people equates to bad behavior. You know, we need to rethink of how we look up both people and behavior, and it’s just an awareness. And so again, I think in designing places, we need to think about that social coexistence and how can we become better at that?
Maki Kawaguchi (32m 44s):
And with that, you know, this idea of dignity for everyone comes into play.
Sharon Roerty (32m 49s):
One of the places we visited while we were developing the inclusive, healthy places framework was a park hold focus park in Copenhagen and focus park had been through a couple of different sort of redesigns, but it was in need of a do over. And there had been a lot of mistrust in the community because of things that the community members, the people that lived around the park wanted, and didn’t happen the last time, less several times. So this time, the city of Copenhagen engaged an artist to work with community residents to kind of re-imagine the space and what it could be. So focus park was located outside the city center in a pretty dense neighborhood.
Sharon Roerty (33m 29s):
One could say a transitional kind of neighborhood. There were the hipster types, young families, some professionals, you know, social entrepreneurs. There were new immigrants to the community. There were homeless people that use the park. There was even, you know, sort of a local gang that hung out in the park. The artists brought everyone together and brought them all into the process and in doing so, it wasn’t about coming up with solutions so much as what they wanted and what their vision for the park was and how it was it wasn’t working for them. And one thing the homeless people said was that the lights in the park being too bright at night, made them feel unsafe and made them feel vulnerable.
Sharon Roerty (34m 11s):
So in the process, one of the things they did was they worked at so that there were lights in the park at night, but gave homeless people, actually an area where the lights were dimmed so that they could sleep at night and not, not feel like they stuck out or not, you know, pray for other people what that did. I mean, people can think, oh, well, we don’t want to invite homeless people in the park, but truth is they were there because homeless people are, unfortunately in a lot of parks in public spaces, it gave them a safe place and they are part of the community. So by making the homeless people safer, it made everyone safer and it gave everyone dignity within this face.
Sharon Roerty (34m 56s):
It made them all feel like they were valued, community residents and community, clients of the park and the public space. They all became stewards of the place. It became a different kind of place going forward.
Jeff Wood (35m 11s):
What does success look like in five years from the document, from your work with other communities, with other organizations, what does that look like?
Maki Kawaguchi (35m 19s):
Well, I would say success can come in many ways, but for sure as a starting point, having a greater awareness about the need to be more inclusionary in our places, I think it needs to start with awareness, just, you know, from both designers and sort of practitioners both in the health equity environment and the built environment and just awareness of that. But then hopefully with that awareness comes the commitment and intentionality to design for more healthy and inclusionary cities and communities, right? So whether it’s planners or designers or policymakers or health practitioners, I mean, for me, it, ultimately, if everybody considered this commitment of inclusive, healthy places in their body of work, I think we’ll have come a long way today.
Maki Kawaguchi (36m 8s):
We’re not there yet. A lot of times people talk about it, but lacks sort of that intentionality is more of a checklist and not done with commitment.
Sharon Roerty (36m 18s):
One measure of success for us, I think is creating awareness around inclusive, healthy places and getting people to think beyond design. People love to think about design. You know, we’re driven by it. We watch all the reality TV, the HGTV or whatever it is, you know, we want to design our, our living spaces better. And then when you take us outside, we want, you know, we go right to design. This bench goes here and this swing should go there. But inclusive, healthy places is so much more than design. So we need to think about the whole space. We need to think about it 360 degrees, you know, right. That it is, you know, we have to think about the history of the place who uses the space beyond us, beyond us being sort of the new group or the new users that come in and discovered this place.
Sharon Roerty (37m 5s):
And now want to sort of redesign it for, you know, our use, who else is there? What’s the history, right? What’s the process? How do we measure it going forward? How do we measure it? How do we sustain it? How do we program it without over programming it, which is another sort of thing that people love to do over program space, either under program programming or over programming. So getting people to think about that and also, you know, public spaces for the full year, not just for the, you know, when the weather is warm and, you know, we like to be outside, we need those spaces all the time. So that’s part of it. That’s a measure of success, but how do we really bring people into the process and think about everyone in that space and having a value around that space for all people so that it can really create opportunities for health and for connection to build our social networks, to build social cohesion in a place to make community, to give us all a sense of belonging in our community and with the emphasis on all.
Maki Kawaguchi (38m 7s):
I think those are examples of great metrics. If five years from now, 10 years from now, we could collect data about the sense of belonging of a community in a place. And if we hit the mark and everybody responds positively where we’ve done well, you know, so I think, again, I’m going back to this idea of like the data that we collect is also very important and what we collect. We need to also rethink what kind of data we’re collecting, you know, now, and in future. And that it’s not just about infrastructure or product based data, but really focused on the human what’s, the
Jeff Wood (38m 43s):
Geography that you all hope to work with. I mean, there’s so many different administrative boundaries. There’s small spaces, there’s large spaces, there’s transit agencies, there’s NPOs, there’s city governments. What’s the geography that you all hope to focus on them in. It could be all geography,
Sharon Roerty (38m 59s):
Right? Well, I would say the inclusive, healthy places framework can be used any place. So we don’t have a hoped for geography so much is really that this is a tool and a methodology that can be used any place it’s not designed for one specific place. It’s really designed for systems change for more equitable, healthy places. And it can be used to break down structural racism. It’s not the answer to structural racism, but it’s, it gives us a tool and a methodology to start peeling back and seeing the policies and actions that have been taken over time, that undergirds structural racism that have created unhealthy places, unhealthy policies, and in some cases, even priorities and laws that in places that separate us and don’t bring us together.
Sharon Roerty (39m 47s):
So it’s not about one specific place it’s really meant it’s a systems change tool. If you will, that can be used in any place. You
Jeff Wood (39m 55s):
All have been working on this for quite a while. Is there anything that’s jumped out and surprised you or worked out a way that you might not have expected? You know, sometimes we expect things to go a certain way or direction. Is there anything that maybe is interesting, but surprising? I love asking this question because I get these faces. Folks can’t see the faces, but I can’t, The thinking faces, the little, little hamster wheel is running.
Sharon Roerty (40m 27s):
You know, I don’t know that this is a surprise so much, but I’ll just say that I’ve appreciated how many people, once they sort of engage with the framework with the wheel, as we call it, get excited by it, you know, and want to dig into it and want to think about how to use it. And then again, in the past year, how, you know, public spaces have people have had this awakening around public spaces, see a need to be able to think about their public spaces and to create better public spaces, to think more broadly about the public spaces. I don’t know if it’s a surprise, maybe a little bit in terms of the last year, because you know, who could ever imagine this?
Sharon Roerty (41m 9s):
You know, I never thought about like a surprise me. I never thought about parking lot so much as public spaces. And in the past year, I see how people are using parking lots that are public spaces, right? The parking lot behind a municipal building as a public space, but how now that’s become an important public space and thinking about those spaces differently. Yeah,
Maki Kawaguchi (41m 30s):
I think so. I think, I mean, I’m repeating what you’ve already said, but I think how we’ve changed the way we look at public spaces as a collective, just as people. And I think the potential of just the greater awareness to the potential public spaces and the importance of, again, not just design, but there’s a full process and that there needs to be engagement and that we need to create a sense of belonging and community and coexistence. And all of these things have sort of heightened in the past year. And I think that import is just, I do feel like there’s a greater collective awareness just from the general public about the importance of public spaces.
Maki Kawaguchi (42m 10s):
And so for me, having a tool like the ISP framework is really exciting. I think for those, with whom I’ve shared, you know, I’ve gotten very good response. Of course, that’s not just the answer. The IHP framework is not going to answer everything, but it is a tool. And it’s just like for me, a first step to getting to a better place in terms of community building too.
Jeff Wood (42m 32s):
Well, I want to be mindful of your all’s time. Thank you so much for joining us. Where can folks find the framework and maybe contact you if they want to find out more information?
Maki Kawaguchi (42m 41s):
Yes, absolutely. So currently it’s available. If you just type in inclusive, healthy places, framework on Google, you’ll, it’ll pop up so you can find it there, but you can also find it on our website, Gale people.com. And also I’m happy to be, you know, out too and speak more about this framework.
Sharon Roerty (42m 60s):
And one thing I just want to add before we go, that I want people to think about the public spaces are really a reflection pool. They reflect our norms, our values or priorities, our culture, our aspirations, and even our fears, what they represent yesterday and they represent tomorrow and they really represent the promise of what can be when we really come together and think about our communities and what we want them to be.
Jeff Wood (43m 28s):
That’s very well said. That sounds like an episode title, public space as a reflective pool. I bet it will share in a Mackie. Thank you for joining us. We really appreciate it.
Sharon Roerty (43m 39s):
Hey, it was fun. Thank you, Jeff.