As Rochester, MN continues to grow, and we endeavor to increase the diversity of attractions and support of arts and culture, there is an ever-increasing need to get people involved in making change happen. Cities are complex environments teeming with latent potential and sometimes all that is required is a little spark and a vision to make people excited and explode into action.
Charette Happens is a mobile design studio that seeks out opportunities to bring people together in a collaborative design process. Design requires putting people first and responding to human needs. A charette is rapid collaboration--intended to be equally fun, hectic and exciting. It brings people together and gets them talking, sketching, brainstorming, ideating, and contemplating. While it doesn't have the music of an ice cream truck, when Charette Happens shows up I envision the public eager to hang out and spend a day participating in the design process, or just hanging out to enjoy the activity. Time constraints are imposed to limit the analyzing of ideas and censoring of concepts; it is about free-associative design. Ideas can be provocative, unusual, or fantastical, and every idea has merit. The charette is a transparent design process that spawns creative endeavors. And at the end of the day, the images that are produced are simply given to the people who requested them--true democracy in action.
With the aid of Charette Happens, these small scale attempts to transform the built environment are made manifest in projects such as pocket parks, "complete streets" designs, parklets, pop-up cafes, guerrilla gardening, free libraries, etc. They aim to create an architecture of place through a neighborhood or community event. I strongly believe that it embodies the spirit of the lighter, quicker, cheaper movement: rapid prototyping of creative ideas. Charette Happens is a metaphorical (and literal) vehicle to translate these ideas into visual illustrations. They provide a vision of a future that people can believe in, be inspired by, and work toward.
Risks and challenges
Once this project is funded, there will be two distinct challenges. The first is creating the mobile design studio. There is a 14' box truck that would be perfect, but that is only a shell. After purchasing that truck, it needs to be outfitted inside with the materials and tools necessary to perform multiple design charettes. There will need to be a heat source and some power accommodations and there are several design challenges incorporated in that. Then there is all of the street furniture that should be compact and portable allowing for quick set up on design day, but then also easy to store back inside the truck. On the exterior we will need to place large graphics to identify Charette Happens and any pledge providers names.
The second distinct challenge is sparking the momentum for performing these impromptu charettes. One way to do that is to have pledge providers assist in the requests and direction of where to start. This ensures some interest and stewardship. In the absence of this, we will have to begin proactive, unsolicited, pro bono design services. The key to this will be picking the obvious design challenges that many people agree are problematic. We have to get the word out and publicize when and where the Charette Happens truck will appear. Because of this challenge, YOU are the greatest advocate for Charette Happens. YOU can make sure that it is successful. And YOU will be the greatest beneficiary of Charette Happens making a difference in our community.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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