Flushing Bay Workshop 1 represents the culmination of 7 months of research and outreach. Starting in September 2014, this project used the area surrounding Flushing Bay and Creek in Queens, NY as a case to determine how the problems and solutions of regionally relevant ecological issues might be better communicated to the public. Using IDEO's Human Centered Design Toolkit as a framework for community engagement and design research, a series of secondary research, interviews, observations, and site visits determined that Flushing Bay and Creek are heavily impacted by pollution (primarily from sewage overflow) and limited waterfront access, both related to industry and public infrastructure in the surrounding area. To understand how the landscape of these issues might be communicated to area residents, an iterative series of co-design workshops open to local community members began in Spring 2015. In April 2015 a workshop was held at the Flushing YMCA asking area residents and organizers to explore how the water quality issues surrounding Flushing Bay and Creek might be better communicated to the public.




Through brainstorming activities participants decided that the problems facing Flushing Bay and Creek may be communicated to the public through: making public requests to political figures for infrastructure improvements or incentivizing sustainable practices; canvassing to spread information; a unified website for all initiatives and concerned groups paired with traditional media to reach general population; education opportunities such as walking/boating tours or a marine ecology center; and have clear ways to inform people of the individual actions they can take such as a subway ad campaign or public events.

Feedback sheets showed that all attendees enjoyed the workshop and would participate in similar event again, noting collaborative discussion and ability to share ideas as attractive features. It should be noted that one third of workshop attendees were informed of the project at the Design Trust for Public Space’s opening exhibition of You Are Here at the Queens Museum, a project which embraced participatory methods and human centered design as a means for re-designing the inland portions of FMCP; the participants continued interest in participatory models implies the models effectiveness in organizing and engaging citizens.

See more inspired by this work: Flushing Bay Workshop 2; Flushing Bay Workshop 3; Live from the Gutter; This is YOUR Waterfront.