If you google search Urban Activism you will probably find yourself browsing through stories about parklets, parking day, guerilla gardening and all sorts of urban hacks. The power to change our surroundings is no longer solely vested in the hands of the city but in its people--though most of these efforts began as a simple way of asking for change through proactive actions.
There seems to be more and more awareness of the impact of prototyping for the social and urban landscape. In San Francisco alone there are numerous organizations and groups of people excited about Urban Prototyping -- our friends at GAFTA, for instance, in partnership with a handful of local organizations enthusiastic about tactical urbanism (temporary small-scale interventions of public spaces that lead to conversations and actions.) This movement of citizens shaping and redesigning their cities doesnt end in SF. In Singapore an Urban Prototyping weekend was held last June, and GOOD will have its Biennale focus on “Renegade designers and Open Source Urbanism” in Venice today.
A few weeks ago I attended the UP Festival (Urban Prototyping brainstorm) and heard some of the most creative uses for public space I’d ever heard of. This style of creation for public spaces not only leads to masterful urban hacks but can also be leveraged as a tool for data collection, gathering of community, and action. GAFTA just announced the finalists and these projects will be featured in October in the Street Expostition in Downtown SF.
So mark your calendars and if you’re in San Francisco keep your eyes open for more urban prototypes and more spontaneous interventions that consider viability, scalability, innovation, presentation and impact on society and in your neighborhood!