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On Foot! Adventures in city planning

Photo from On Foot! Science Cafe

The found objects included scraps of paper, foam hair curlers and plastic dinosaurs. The task? To build an ideal city using these disparate objects. With minimal instruction to encourage creative thinking, 140 people began building. They stood around tables in the second floor cafe area, working together to make cities unlike the ones we know, limited only by their imagination and plastic dinosaurs.

Cal Poly Science Cafe hosted On Foot! Community Design and Public Health on October 18, 2012. The event started with an introduction to four Cal Poly faculty and researchers:

Beverly Bass, Assistant Professor, Landscape Architecture
Kelly Main, Assistant Professor, City and Regional Planning
Heather Starnes, Assistant Professor, Kinesiology
Stephanie Teaford, Community Liaison for STRIDE (Science through Translational Research in Diet and Exercise)

They each talked about what they love about their work, how they approach it and how people in their fields work together.

Then we met James Rojas, the founder of Place It! who joined us for the day from L.A. He brought two IKEA blue shopping bags stuffed with random objects for us to use in our making. With limited introduction, he encouraged everyone to create a place where they’d want to live, where they could easily bike and walk to get around. The craziness of the objects inspired all sorts of designs, including, for example, a giant slide to serve as a tourist attraction.

While everyone was busy building, our interdisciplinary team of five experts walked around to observe the process and interact with everyone. There was also a map posted so that people who attended Science Cafe could note what route and mode of transportation they used to arrive at the library.

At the end, we heard a lot of voices and versions of what our communities can look like. We also were invited by Planning Commissioner Eric Meyer to share creative ideas for San Luis Obispo’s future. After our day was over, we found it difficult to break down the beautiful cities that had been built. But clean up we did, so that the plastic dinosaur can roam again.

Here’s a video about it:

Read more about this Science Cafe and the faculty and researchers who were involved. See more photos from the event on Kennedy Library’s Flickr.

Learn more about James Rojas and Place It!

Add your voice to the plan for San Luis Obispo’s future.

Stay tuned for a video interview with our experts about their work! Find it on our Science Cafe channel on Vimeo.