In 2011, the Ventura Village neighborhood in Minneapolis approached the Metropolitan Design Center to help them reduce crime in their neighborhood park, which had developed a reputation for guns, drugs, and gang-related violence. The situation had gotten so bad that many local families did not allow their children to play in the park. The Center worked with a large stakeholder group, including neighborhood groups, the Minneapolis Police Department, and local business owners, to research key issues, conduct neighborhood workshops, and ultimately design a park that would greater meet the needs of the community.
My work with the project focused on research and analysis, graphics and layout, streetscape design, workshop development, and report production.
Working with crime statistics provided by the Minneapolis Police Department, I designed graphs illustrating the nature of crime in and around the park. To understand how crime increases and decreases in the “lifecycle” of parks and how neighborhoods can fight back, I conducted a literature review and case studies. This research revealed that busy parks are safe parks and that neighborhoods need to “take back” their parks by making their presence known and programming the space for all types of people in all times of the year.
I assisted in planning and directing a workshop to find out what neighborhood children would like in a park. To get some ideas for how to design a playground to meet the needs determined by the workshop, I developed a series of playground typologies from case studies from around the world. I also created a graphic depicting how Peavey Park could become a “cosmic garden”, introducing children to the wonders of the natural world.
To provide increased access to the park for pedestrians and bicyclists, I developed two streetscape redesign options.
Our research on the lifecycle of parks also revealed that public/private partnerships could be a potentially powerful source of park funding and programming. I conducted case studies of successful partnerships as models for the community as they moved forward with the project.
I was also responsible for doing much of the writing and layout for the final project report.
Since our work on the project, the neighborhood has started a non-profit dedicated to Peavey Park and has programmed weekly events in the park. The Minneapolis Park Board is working to set aside part of their budget for improvements to Peavey Park. Crime is reported to have greatly diminished in the area in the last couple years.