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Community Development

Bringing People Together

Buckman Ellen Ellen Buckman



I’m a marketing professional turned interior design student. My path in life has, at every stage and stop along the way, led me here…

I’m a joy seeker. I’m a style omnivore.

Ellen 12-5-1980 Rae Buckman

I’m a designer, yogi, carpenter, preservationist, foodie, photographer, soccer player, Mardi Gras DIVA, choco-holic, and dance-machine. I’m a woman on a journey to becoming M.A.I.D.


of CONTENTS Section 1:


Section 2:

Community defined

Section 3:

Communities through Experience

Healthy Communities by Design

Section 4: Section 5:

Virtual Communities

Community Impact: 3D by Design

Section 6: Section 7:

Geographical Communities

Communities of Commerce

Section 8: Section 9:

Community EmPOWERment by Design




This magazine is a starting point. It’s a method of exploration and a tool for thesis development. In course of identifying a thesis topic (still a work in progress), it was necessary to identify my core beliefs both as a person and a designer. What do I stand for? And how can I impact/share/improve upon that through design? I support Main Streets and my local businesses. I want technology to be leveraged for the greater good. I strive to live a green and healthy life. I believe in preservation of buildings and of lifestyle. And I am seeking to find a way that design can help facilitate these changes for the rest of the world. But you have to start somewhere and you have to convince people to care. How? Start small (within a community) and figure out how to bring it together (what unites a community). And so it begins: Community Development.

A model community is composed of a group of individual parts.



The model to the left is a community metaphor. The component objects of the model, the balls, ribbons, rings, cones, and prongs represent the community members. Throughout this publication, there are patterns composed of the balls, ribbons, rings, cones or prongs. Each pattern is composed of a repetitive series of that object creating a community. The sameness of the series represents the values, experiences, and/or forces that unite the members of that community. As in life, the members of those communities are still individuals. They can unite with other individuals in numbers large or small to form an infinite number of additional communities. It is the size, coordination and cohesion of the individuals of each community that determine its impact.

Community Defined

Community There are many ways to define “community.� The Merriam-Webster Dictionary alone contains 13 definitions. Here are just a few:

a: a unified body of individuals b: the people with common interests living in a particular area; broadly: the area itself c: an interacting population of various kinds of individuals (as species) in a common location d: a group of people with a common characteristic or interest living together within a larger society e: a group linked by a common policy f: a body of persons or nations having a common history or common social, economic, and political interests

Each of these definitions has broad application and does in fact define what a community is. Armed with that information, it is now time to define what creates those communities more specifically.

Tourists join a temporary community as they gather on Bourbon Street during Mardi Gras.

Communities through Shared Experience

Communities through Shared Experience Joining a community isn’t always a conscious decision... Sometimes our shared experiences link us to others in the formation of informal and often accidental communities. Often, our experiences would not be the same, or even possible without these communities.

Concert goers sway in unison.

A Krewe of Dragons parade through New Orleans during Mardi Gras applauded by the local community.

A company of soldiers stand united in a military tribute at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.

No matter the venue, the experience of live music brings people together.

The Fanatics Football Club worked together for a championship win.

Over 100 “DIVAS� unite to celebrate Mardi Gras in elaborate costumes.

Virtual Communities

Virtual Communities It seems like anything that you can do in real life can be paralleled, shared, watched or discussed online. Who doesn’t have a “social network these days? More than one? A digital avatar? Not only are we living our lives online, we are creating communities there, as well. We share, connect, create, post, inform and more online. The sites we visit, the blogs we follow, and those who follow us--there is an infinite number of virtual communities to join.

Facebook is an online tool to “help you connect and share with the people in your life.�

175 million people are “Tweeting.”

Pinterest is a place to catalog what you love and “share your taste with the world.�

An online community collage... and this just scratches the surface!


Healthy Communities

Healthy Communities Despite the growing numbers of overweight and obese Americans, there are still many committed to a healthy lifestyle. They are the early risers at the yoga studio. They are the ones going to gym after work instead of at the bar. These people are forming healthy communities all over your neighborhoods, cities and the world. They deserve functional, beautiful spaces to serve as their community meeting places.

Models representing the synchronized motion of yogis practicing together.

A yoga community moves through a series of poses in an early morning class.

The second floor of a new gym concept proposes cooler lighting strategies and visually uniting the different functional/exercise spaces.

The first floor of the gym contains a doubleheight gymnasion in the center of the track that is open to the cardio area on the second floor.


Community Cohesion: 3D

Community Impact : 3D

By now it’s clear that there are many types of communities. But what has not yet been demonstrated is the value of community. What is the impact of people coming together and working together? What can be achieved in a community? The following pages contain a set of models, constructed by connecting the points on a 3D sphere. As the number of points (people) increases, so does the impact and complexity of the resulting model.


20 People

50 People


150 People

300 People

Geographical Communities

Geographical Communities It’s pretty simple, really. Sometimes the thing that unites us most is home. Our neighborhood, our city, our state, or even our country is part of our identity. And since so many others also share those locations, we are automatically part of that community.

Crowds of tourists gather around Chicago’s famous Cloud Gate sculpture (aka “Bean”) in Millenium Park.

Families and people of all ages enjoy a sunny afternoon at a neighborhood park in Paris.

A sampling of the newly constructed “Make It RIght” houses in the Lower 9th Ward of New Orleans that was destroyed by Hurrican Katrina.

A row of houses that are part of the “Musicians’ Village” in New Orleans.

Communities of Commerce

Communities of Commerce

Everyone is “a regular” somewhere. It could be where you where you eat, sleep, work, drink, play, or shop.

Commerce is a way to support your community through shopping locally. It’s a way to discover new communities by exploring their shops and dining. No matter how or where our commerce happens, our choices and our spending are connecting us to community.

Tourists and locals buy fresh crĂŞpes from street vendors in Paris.

A typical and charming french market sells produce to locals.

A vendor sells flags at a summer festival in Chicago.

Advertisements posted at/for local businesses in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood.


Community EmPOWERment

Community EmPOWERment Logan Square a neighborhood with a great deal of history – both culturally and architecturally. And after years of neglect, is it in the midst of a renewal. This active gentrification makes it a prime location for a demonstration to engage, educate and activate community members around energy consumption in public spaces. The plan for this demonstration taps into the human capital of the neighborhood: a vibrant community of bicycle-riders. By calling upon these riders to “bank“ their kinetic energy by riding their bikes for a few minutes each day at a conveniently located kiosk, the residents are able to power their own street lights. Through contributing to the safety and beauty of the neighborhood, residents are empowered. A sense of pride and cohesion is created, thereby strengthening the community. But the benefits don’t stop there: exercise and healthy living are encouraged, awareness about energy consumption is raised, overall energy consumption in public spaces is decreased, and the model can be replicated across the city at other neighborhood El stops.

Logan Square is a community with many bicycle-riders.

The Logan Square Community EmPOWERment kiosk.

Commuters can “plug-in “ and ride their own bikes to contribute to the kinetic energy “bank.”

The steel structure is inspired by the spokes of a bicycle wheel.

The structure serves a dual-purpose, also acting as a bike rack.

Community Development  

MID 512 Mag