World, meet our topic space!
Here's the story about how it came to be. We knew that for it's inaugural event, BarnRaise aimed to connect people not only through process but through content as well... and that got our team thinking... what types of issues affect everyone in the city of Chicago? We believe that a topic which affects you personally would be more engaging for individual participants.
We thought about the rise of popularity of the famous tv series, Chicagoland. We talked with multiple people affiliated with organizations that focus on violence prevention and community building. We wanted to truly understand what affects people in our city and what would be most engaging to participants. What we found was that there are several large organizations within the city that "dive deep" into issues like violence in the city, like the Crime Lab at the University of Chicago. Knowing that this was a 2.5 day event, we didn't want to simply skim the surface of such an important topic and come off as apathetic to affected communities. There are so many great organizations doing deep research and meaningful work, that we decided to "leave it to the experts". Perhaps after this year's BarnRaise, we can readdress the idea of this topic space. Thoughts are welcome on this discussion!
So, after coming to that major conclusion about our topic space, we really went back to the words "urban safety" to understand what that could mean and what would be engaging to the audience we want to attract with this event- professionals in the design world, aspiring designers, ID alumni, those working in close proximity to design fields, and even community members from organizations affected by the work at this event. Safety doesn't have to mean violence. Especially in this day and age. It can also mean privacy, and with the growing support for open data in the city and conversion to more technology driven solutions, we quickly realized this was also extremely intriguing. We met with Anijo Matthew, an associate professor at the Institute of Design who has done work in this space. We're also met with Laura Forlano, who often discusses the dimensions of safety and privacy with respect to embedded values. Together, they recently worked on a project titled “Designing Digital Networks for Urban Public Space,” which focused on the use of urban technology for citizen engagement. These discussions helped us move to our refocused theme: Urban Safety in an Open Source World.
We broke down this topic space into 5 buckets:
- Public Spaces
- Home Safety
- Virtual Privacy
We're still looking for organizations wrestling with issues around safety and privacy within these buckets, so if you know someone (or are someone!) representing an organization that might be interested in participating, please feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org!