Candy Chang is rocking my world. R-O-C-K-I-N-G. She is an artist, designer and urban planner who asks people what they want and/ or connects to our deepest longings in engaging and beautiful ways. Everything she does honors the relationship she has with her audience and is reciprocal. It goes back to monk and activist Satish Kumar’s edict, “You are, therefore I am.”
In this moment, I am really connecting to Neighborland, a platform that enables people to state clearly what they want. It’s simple, it’s easy (low barriers to entry) and it gives people a place in which to articulate their needs. I think this is a critical piece of what sustains us and how we need to engage (and is why I love citizen journalism and other participatory media).
Asking people for their insights matters. A lot. This was one of the biggest learnings that came out of my work with CEP, an organization trying to engage in climate and energy work in Kansas. My students interviewed farmers (many of whom were skeptical) about climate change. Most said that, in their interactions with environmentalists, they had felt condescended to and their concerns about climate change were dismissed or disregarded. I’ll save my rant about how the demand for climate consensus has killed our movement for another time. Suffice to say, I get it. We were in the middle of a cold snap and the dominant icons associated with climate change were polar bears and Al Gore. If the messenger had been Dick Cheney instead of Gore, I would have been skeptical, too.
So let me get back to my love of Candy Chang. She is creating interactive experiences that are made complete through engagement with her audience. She is telling people what you care about matters. And not only does it matter, I need to hear it. I want to hear it. My work is not complete without yours. You are, therefore I am.