bike advocacy progress report
after my typical period of indecisiveness, a general direction has been established for this body of work. the direction includes a trait that i have noticed in the past year or two in my and my students' work – that one can often include many aspects of other ideas into a single direction. this is different from the much-dreaded "frankenstein" solution whereby a client re-assembles the pieces of ideas that were never meant to be compatible. i see it more as developing an inclusive framework that will allow for flexibility to include what i consider to be all of the most interesting ideas, but all bound up in a consistent visual approach that has yet to be developed. but enough of that nearly-instant digression...
the direction is a public conversation/brand tentatively called "bike city kc: portraits of a culture". the admittedly ambitious goals are as follows:
- inspire people to ride bikes more than they currently are
- transform kansas city into a bike town (yes, i know this can't be done alone)
- change perceptions about cycling for transportation, recreation, health or sustainability.
- help people overcome fears / barriers to cycling
- connect and unite all kc riders
the vision is to see cyclists on every street in the kc metro area whenever one goes out in public and for cycling to be an accepted and fully integrated aspect of kc culture. kansas city is a bike city.
- people power in all forms (cycling and action in general)
that's where i am on the brand positioning. the brand idea actually grew out of the other ideas, which i should cover now.
my initial ideas were to generate inspiration and action in viewers by utilizing a highly participatory process that centered around interviews, surveys, and other forms of documentation and information gathering. i'm going for qualitative responses; the "why" and the motivation.
my first project is very simple, but i don't know what to call it. i ask people "how can kc become a bike city?", collecting their sharpie-written answer on a small sheet and photographing their bike. the idea is simply to read what people think and get a feel for the diverse opinions on the topic.
the next project is considerably more involved, in that it is a series of video interviews with a (hopefully) diverse set of people from various cycling communities that will be edited into themes. so far, everyone is being asked the same questions, such as "why do you ride?", "what was your first bike?", and "what's your favorite biking route in kc?". the idea is similar to the mini-project above, in that viewers would get a wide range of answers to each question.
with every project, i'm leaving the media question open right now. i can see all of this living on a "bike city kc" facebook page with a steady content stream, but it could also be various printed materials like zines. i like the print idea because it can include those without the priviledge of internet access, but it costs money to produce. perhaps i can do that if i locate some funding sources.
here are a couple of stills from the two interviews i've done so far. thanks to brett shoffner, bike/ped coordinator at the rosedale development association; and joshua hoffman, mildred's barista, student, and all-around progressive and community-minded guy.
i have several other ideas that range from building projections of riding footage to organizing group bike rides to an interactive exhibit showcasing the above projects and lots of user-input strategies.
so now i'm looking for feedback. what do you think of the idea of sharing these opinions from the kc biking community? will it cause people to ride bikes? is it hubris? what am i missing? is the idea of framing all of this within a brand a bad idea; too commercial? i'm open to any and all input because i don't want this to be just my project, but kc's project. sure, i'd like to shape and inform it and orchestrate things, but it's much more fun to be heavily informed and directed by the community.