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Green Infrastructure Communication Workshop Part 3

Engaging the Public in a Project’s Goals and Benefits by Using Hands-on Activities and Signage.

Building on Workshop 1: Monitoring, and Workshop 2: What do People Think, this workshop focused on designing public facing communications that inspire passersby and other neighborhood stakeholders to understand and interact with green infrastructure in meaningful ways.

Attendees came from groups including 9 Mile Run Watershed Association, Homewood Children’s Village, Evolve EA and PWSA creating a diverse pool of green infrastructure, community engagement and design knowledge.

The workshop began with some design challenges and an assortment of materials.

 Without divulging their goal, teams made environments that were supposed to inspire an audience to imagine, to crawl, to observe the room.  Reflections on the effectiveness of these environments included having familiar materials and references for people to understand, creating mystery with small fonts or arrows, having all the materials needed to support an activity (like seats for people to pretend to have tea at a table), and simple enough scenarios that people understand what they are supposed to do.  

We heard from Erin Foster, a graphic designer on the Carnegie Museum of Natural History exhibits team, whose presentation on interpretive signs emphasized simplicity and using visual cues like font, color and size to communicate information without words.  See her quick list here: Designs for Interpretation

In the halls of Carnegie Museums of Natural History and Art we examined and critiqued effective audience engagement strategies, audience feedback stations for imagining and sharing short stories about artwork, the dots that passively turn the floors of the PNC Center for Education into a hopscotch game, or a Rainworks installation which creates designs on sidewalk only when wet.

Tim Nuttle presented the permeable pavement demonstration he was involved in building on Sampsonia way, noting the goal of transforming the way a space is used through inviting passersby to do something unexpected.  See the Sampsonia Way project and the interpretive signs they used here:Sampsonia Way Project;  SampsoniaWay_Poster_Vert; SampsoniaWay_Poster Horiz.

Finally, participants worked together on designs for activities, signage, and other elements for their specific Green Infrastructure communication challenges.

This workshop was made possible by a grant from Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority.