Trail Memories Community Engagement
August 15, 2014
With a mission to protect and enhance the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail at Lady Bird Lake, the Trail Foundation (TTF) works to improve and enhance the Trail with infrastructural and environmental projects. In preparation for future projects, including a new restroom at Heron Creek, TTF wanted to engage visitors to fuel a design process with Mel Lawrence Architects. Using arts-based engagement techniques, GO collaborative led the community engagement process, comprised of an on-site installation and a Trail User survey (collected online and on-site). The primary goals of the project were to: celebrate the Trail and the work of The Trail Foundation; gather Trail User feedback about the upcoming Heron Creek Restroom design; and gather user information for future designs efforts.
For the on-site installation, a timeline 36 feet in length was constructed for a one-week period. The timeline featured photos of the Trail’s history and a map of the Trail itself. Trail users were invited to write down their own history as it intersected with the Trail and to identify spots on the map of particular memories. An orange picnic bench was also on-site to draw the attention of passersby and serve as a place to engage users in longer conversations. Over 1700 comments were gathered, filling the front of the boards and stretching onto the backs. A survey followed the on-site installation, asking Trail users further questions about perceptions of the site and its potential development. Over 10 days, over 500 responses were gathered.
It was abundantly clear throughout the process that Austinites and the city’s visitors adore the Trail. It is not only physically, but emotionally, part of Austin’s central identity and the place people go to feel healthy and connected. Through the responses gathered on-site and on-line, Trail users conveyed a rich picture of how they think about the Trail, and specific ideas to guide the future design processes.
Community Engagement; Installation Design; Survey Design and Analysis.