Neighborhoods: Windows into Boise. The plan, the progress and the exhibit.

Preliminary brainstorming process on neighborhood capacity.

For the past five months we have delved into three Boise neighborhoods. The City of Boise approached our Community and Regional Planning graduate program with one broad task: help us understand how to increase and build neighborhood capacity. Provided with three different (and surprisingly similar) neighborhoods, we began a process that would be tiring, frustrating and most importantly, rewarding.

For a more comprehensive look at our initial goals and implementation steps, take a look at our blog on the beginning of our neighborhood project.

A plan was developed

Three leaders were appointed to simplify communication and corralling. We canvased each neighborhood, questioning residents and visitors about their “special places.” What places draw individuals to them, what makes them special to their neighborhoods, and why? This method may have been a bit too ambitious, administering surveys is not only time-consuming, butrequires certain certifications and training (who knew?).

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Our fearless team leaders: Sean, Andrew and Tod, work together electronically (and in person).

Each neighborhood team made a goal to retrieve 50 completed surveys illustrating respondents’ special places in relation to their approximate household location. We later digitized these results into maps depicting pathways and important places within each neighborhood.

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A scanned example of the “special place/destination” maps acquired from the surveys administered.

The initial surveying helped most of us get acquainted with areas previously unfamiliar. Once some special places had been identified, we started meeting with stakeholders and community members for more in-depth interviews. The information provided in these interviews was telling of each neighborhoods’ character and the values residents have. Speaking with actual residents in the neighborhoods provided us with a glimpse into areas previously not considered by planners or members of the larger Boise community.

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Unloading the boards on which our exhibit was displayed.

Putting it all together

With a fair amount of data and information in-hand we began developing a plan for our quickly approaching exhibition at the Sesqui-Shop. Through the guidance of our leadership team and several hardworking students we developed a cohesive show that we felt illustrated the differences and commonalities present in our three neighborhoods. We showcased the activity/special places maps in every neighborhood, as well as “Then and Now” maps to illustrate how much each neighborhood has grown and remained constant throughout the years. In the other parts of our exhibit we personified each neighborhoods’ unique character and history.

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The beginning stage of our exhibit, before the boards were attached.

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Preparing the boards.

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Creating a literal window, in which to view Boise.

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Dean Gunderson, one part of the duo working toward an interactive chalkboard for our show.

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Scanned versions of the photos to be put in the display.

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A quick breather after a portion of the installation.

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The installation process.

The show went on!

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Sean Kelly educates exhibit attendees.

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An interactive map allowing participants to share their special places.

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An overview of strings attached, both from surveys taken in the neighborhoods and from exhibit participants.

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The use of direct quotes from neighborhood residents gave a special look into the character of each area.

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Tod Morris guides onlookers through the West Valley neighborhood portion of the exhibit.

Through investigating each neighborhoods’ historic fabric and illustrating the nuances and commonalities, we showed one avenue toward increasing neighborhood capacity.  Not only did we learn vast amounts about how important neighborhoods are to Boise, we attempted to show Boise how crucial neighborhoods are to our history as a city.

It is fair to say that most of us have gained a new perspective on exhibits and the work that goes in to every detail involved. Not only did we learn vast amounts about each neighborhood, we have gained a new perspective on Boise and the importance of embracing our history and uniqueness as a city. Teamwork and collaboration were end-results not fully appreciated until our finished product could be fully recognized and appreciated.

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The interactive chalkboard, illustrating the variations of our participants’ definition of neighborhood.

Neighborhoods: Windows Into Boise will be on display in the Sesqui-Shop through the month of May, come check it out!

Authors: Cody Butler, Andrew Crisp, Dean Gunderson; Sean Kelly, Stephanie Leonard, Kyle McCormick; Tod Morris, Ryan Strong.

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