River North Park, Denver, CO

The City and County of Denver Parks & Recreation and the North Denver Cornerstone Collaborative (NDCC) determined that a new park was needed in the emerging River North (RiNo) neighborhood. The City envisioned the park to be a direct reflection of the up and coming arts district – an intimate, creative, and iconic park that would highlight the sustainability, arts, and culture of the surrounding historic neighborhoods of color, as well as enhancing the ecology of the river corridor in new and creative ways.

Wenk Associates,  contracted Cultural Audit for site research and public engagement processes, which includes a unique approach to engage communities of color surrounding the RiNo site: Globeville, Elyria Swansea, Cole and Five Points.  Cultural Audit is used to identify the “DNA” of constituent communities, to enlist stakeholders from these communities into the project process, and to present ideas and solicit community feedback at the public meetings.

Cultural Audit helped the Wenk Associates design team develop a thinking framework for project design guidelines.

Media deliverables created during the Cultural Audit as part of the site research were presented at the public meetings, and on the project and client websites.  What the Community is Saying

Information gathered during the community engagement process is vital to better understand the issues that are important to the user groups, and the hierarchy of these issues.  This information helps the final design solutions.

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Cultural Audit is capacity building.

Acknowledging that all ages are important project constituents, individuals from local schools, community centers, youth, senior, and arts and culture facilities are directly engaged in the Cultural Audit.  As a visioning session outreach strategy, K-12 students use drawing and writing exercises to uncover their feelings, aspirations and ideas.

K-12 classes are invited into the Cultural Audit process using directed curriculum, and workshops. For River North Park, a Jr. High School class learns community outreach strategies, preparing to become community engagement ambassadors.  The selected strategy: qr codes pointing to recorded interviews, typed transcriptions, information printed on 2 sheets (4 sides total), which are laminated and hole punched. The laminated booklets are zip tied to public locations around end user neighborhoods. This strategy distributes information about the project progress, and provides a mechanism for end user feedback.

The front side of sheet one is printed with a qr code linking to a recorded, edited audio interview. The interior sides of sheets one and two are printed with the audio interview transcription. The back side of sheet two is printed with the preferred concept, and a qr code linking to the project website, where the reader may leave comments.

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