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Field Guide to the National Street Service 2ND EDITION - OCTOBER 2018


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“Henry Ford got a lot right. If he were here, he’d want to avoid making the mistakes of the Industrial Age, when the freedom of movement came at the expense of community and our connection to each other.” - Jim Hackett, President and Chief Executive Officer, Ford Motor Company

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Table of Contents

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Introduction Welcome

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Manifesto

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2 3

IV VIII

About the NSS

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What is the National Street Service?

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Who is the National Street Service?

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History of the Organization

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Selection Criteria - Cities, City Leads, Volunteers

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Core Values

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Key Insights

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Introduction

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Insights

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Soul Searching

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What is Soul Searching?

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Program Structure

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Highlights from Soul Searching

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City Programs

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The Cities

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San Francisco

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Boise

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Philadelphia

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Pontiac

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San Antonio

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Local Lab

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Driver Confessional

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Emotional Car Kit

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Jaywalker Bill of Rights

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Lifetime Pass to the Street

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Listening Post

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Pricetag the City

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Streets! App

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Streets to Streets Game

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Stop N Wave

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Summer Experiment Fund

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Reflection & Independent Assessment

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Reflections on the Organization

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Reflections on Interventions

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Metrics for Organizational Success

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Metrics for City Success

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Recommendations for future work

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Press Coverage

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Summer Grants Debrief

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Summer Grants Debrief

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Block party attendees were invited to create their own welcome mats, using stencils and spray paint to customize the message. The mats serve as a daily reminder that the street is yours!

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Welcome to the National Street Service Field Guide. A century ago, the rise of the automotive industry caused the redesign of city streets across the nation. These new streets sidelined the needs of humans in cities and turned over the bulk of street space and the core of street function to the private automobile. The social and legal rules that this established around the purpose and use of city streets has left us with a legacy of uninspiring physical and institutional design: isolation, speed, congestion, pollution, injury, and fatality.

The National Street Service was ultimately created to realize the replacement of these patterns with a human-centered alternative. We believe that establishing a new, human-centered legacy starts with remaking the rules of the street, reconstructing what the street means to us all.

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We want everyone who uses a city street to see and think about that street differently, recognizing the importance of putting people before vehicles, and place before movement. But just changing our informal rules of the street is not enough: we also exist to build a new social understanding of the street, inspiring human-centered redesigns to the physical and institutional aspects of our streets. We are thus extremely pleased to share with you the fruits of our initial year of piloting work as well as a glimpse at our learnings. Since our inception in 2017, the National Street Service has been building a participatory social movement to transform America’s streets into enjoyable and fulfilling places for all people. We hope you are inspired, and learn richly, by consuming this guide. The insights shared in this guide serve to share our deep understanding of the values humans place on streets today which has surfaced from our research, and seed the future of the National Street Service as it evolves and is adopted into Ford Smart Mobility as one of its flagship programs.

“My vision for streets in America is that they become more than roads and more than parks” - Cole Brennan National Street Service Participant + Researcher

Since our inception in 2017, the National Street Service has been building a participatory social movement to transform America’s streets into enjoyable and fulfilling places for all people. We hope you are inspired, and learn richly, by consuming this guide. It is intended to help spread across the nation the work the National Street Service is doing. Will you join us? What are you waiting for? The street is yours.

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Spray chalk was a favorite tool to test new ideas - it has the lenient qualities of chalk with all the impact of spray paint.


The Philadelphia block parties invited each local community to participate in celebration, education and creation.


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THE MANIFESTO

We all deserve human-centered streets. Streets are for people. Human-centered streets must meet human needs, on scales that make sense to people and not machines. Streets are for everyone. Human-centered streets welcome all. Streets are places. Human-centered streets create a place for for activity, social connection and fulfillment, giving us reason to be there and not just pass through.

We help communities uncover and embrace the values they share in the street - and widen their understanding of who and what the street can be for.

Streets must be treasured like we treasure our parks. Human-centered streets are the majority of public space we have, precious canvases for our shared history and identity. They belong to us all, connect us all, and should be treasured by all.

We find creative and accessible ways to get everyone involved in transforming their streets. We make streets better and write better rules to govern them, by harnessing a social movement to redirect and accelerate government action.

Streets must embody and enable the greatest of our shared human values. Human-centered streets expose and reinforce foundational values like concern and tolerance for others, protection from harm, and connection to community and history.

We influence private companies to create transportation products and services that make streets better. We are so glad you have joined us; we can’t wait to see what you will do.

Help us build a movement to realize humancentered streets in every community and for all people, by transforming the rules, norms and physical design of this precious resource.

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1

About the NSS


A bout the N SS

Streets a

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e so ul

The street is yours.

r

of

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ur

Streets are where we live and breathe and move.

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e r e h w y r e v Streets are e 2

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What is the National Street Service? The National Street Service is a means for the public to shape the future of their greatest public space - streets. It’s an exciting time for streets. Cities across the country are voting to make huge investments in public transit. Community organizers are taking the conversation about equity to city streets. Conference panels are filling up with techno-futurists predicting the changing landscape of mobility and retail. But what about the future of streets and the quality of life they support? Autonomous vehicles, innovative curb policy, and drone delivery aren’t worth talking about unless people can envision the improvements these changes will make to their everyday lives. Top-down solutions for the future of streets will fail unless people support them. To make an enduring cultural shift, individual beliefs must progress in step with changes to our streets. In the 1920s the rise of the automotive industry “socially reconstructed the street” by creating resonant cultural tropes that changed people’s beliefs about what the street is for while influencing major federal policy. The invention of the jaywalker, for example, transformed a noble pedestrian into a foolish bumpkin and helped facilitate an exodus of people from our most ubiquitous and accessible public space, our streets.

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ATTE NTIO N

Most streets are designed to prioritize people in cars moving fast.

Streets designed for cars require constant attention from humans.

le of the str en ru t t i ee r t w n

y da to

Th eu

SPEED

RU L ES

F E AR

In response to fear, we create rules restricting choice, encouraging speed, and ultimately raising the stakes for error.

The price of not paying attention in the street is high, leaving all people in the street stressed and afraid.

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The National Street Service began with deep ethnographic research about what people want from their streets. This research revealed some surprising things: we are not as different as we think. All people, regardless if they are walking or driving, want to be valued in the street. People prize the ability to choose to be anonymous or receive attention in the street. The strongest commonality we found is that people’s experience in the street is dominated by fear. Fear of social embarrassment, fear of standing out, and most of all, fear of harm or harming others. We all experience fear on the street, because the rules of the street are not made for people. In response to these fears, we have made more and more rules to exclude people from streets, creating a vicious feedback loop and more inhumane streets. We found that people create unique ways to cope in today’s streets, often by breaking the rules that are not meeting our collective needs.

But if no one is following the rules, it means the rules are not written for people. The National Street Service is a collective of people who see our streets as a treasured resource we all share. We work with communities to discover how to plant the seed of belief in everyday people that it is possible to break the negative feedback loop of fear and inhuman rules on the street. What if we treated our streets like the precious land that they are? We use art, culture, and clever forms of media that are simple, elegant, and just weird enough to catch your eye and cause you to think about how to make streets better places for people. Over the last year, we have honed our approach. • We have learned that we play a missing role of building excitement and energy for the value and potential of streets that can lead to lasting change. • We begin by asking people and communities what is important to them. • We impart the knowledge and language to talk about streets. • We give people creative tools and permission to experiment with shaping their streets to meet local priorities. • We work across neighborhoods, generations, cultures and city lines. • We challenge the dominant culture and beliefs about streets. All of this, we believe, builds momentum towards a movement in support of friendlier, safer, more welcoming, human-centred streets.

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I N V I TAT I O N S TO BE H U M A N

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VA LU ES WE ALL SHARE

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Public space that works for everyone


A bout the N SS

Changing culture through beliefs The National Street Service exists to further the widespread realization of a human-centered vision of the American street. We believe that this vision will be practically realized through physical, institutional and behavioral changes: changes to how we layout and construct our streets, to the formal laws and regulations with which we govern those streets, and to how people behave and what choices they make in and in relation to the street. The first step of this practical realization is, the social reconstruction of the street. We believe that by influencing how we all understand the street—what it means to us, and what it is for—we can create the supportive social, cultural and political conditions for the more formal, on-the-ground changes required. If it happened once before at the advent of the private automobile, it can happen again. Our governing institutions and the physical world we move through only have power and permanence because we collectively decide to lend them this power. The point of social reconstruction is to reshape the distribution of power by reshaping the many millions of individual worldviews on which that power base rests. This reshaped basis can become a foundation for practical change. At present, we deploy tactical urbanism, communications and other tools to build values, beliefs and norms supportive of the human-centered street. To support constructive action, we work to build capabilities and remove constraints. Our pilot programs employ three tactics towards transforming beliefs about what the street is for: •

Surface Shared Values — build and share values conducive to a humancentered vision of the street.

Build Empathy — build and share our beliefs around who belongs in the street, to be wider, more tolerant and more welcoming.

Invite inclusive participation — build capabilities and remove blockers to action by providing the means for engagement with the process of change. 6


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Surface Shared Values

Build Empathy

Participate in Change

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A bout the N SS

Surface Shared Values Have conversations about values that we all share to help people consider the tradeoffs of alternative designs, behaviors, and ideas. Having more information about the implications of alternatives helps communities understand the shared values linking different perspectives rather than devolving the debate to raw contests of individual interest.

By making implicit values of street space explicit, the National Street Service seeks to start a conversation around better ways to allocate the resource of the street itself and the resources we expend to create and maintain it.

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Build Empathy Create opportunities for people to interact and understand each other’s experiences to build empathy towards each other and openness towards new possibilities for our streets. People are more open to possibilities for the street when they can empathize with other people’s experiences. We believe that our needs and history are reflected in the street, and it is therefore fundamentally connected to our sense of self. Of course, not everyone experiences the street equally. In fact, the layout of many streets is hard-wired to support some people and modes over others. Empathetic Streets seeks to awaken people who the street privileges to the fact that that the streets support their needs - often at the expense of others with less privilege or at the expense of society’s shared values on the street.

The National Street Service helps ensure streets are welcoming, accepting, and forgiving by using experiments targeted at people who the street privileges to spark moments of self-reflection and empathy for others.

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Participate in Change Invite people to participate in change by fostering ownership, literacy, and enthusiasm for shaping our streets together. By changing their own streets, people can get their hands dirty and contribute to shaping a shared vision for the future. We believe that being an active creator of the street allows people to think more expansively about what it could be. Participants build capacity for changemaking and can become stewards of the street.

The National Street Service believes that there are a variety of ways to be involved in change. Our volunteer cohorts focus on activating passive supporters of human-centered streets by providing a place-based channel for positive participation in making the street a better place.

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A bout the N SS

Who is the National Street Service? PAR TICIPANT S Anyone who comes into contact with the experiences we present, or engages with the stories we tell. Participants are prompted to think more deeply about the value and potential of our streets, to become supporters of changes which make streets more human-centred. VOLUNTEERS At the core of our efforts are our volunteers, who undertake our Soul Searching training, which guides them to better understand their local streets and then make changes in line with the priorities of their community. Volunteers are carefully selected to ensure that a diversity of voices are represented in each city. Each volunteer shares their individual knowledge, talents, experiences and ideas to build better streets together, as a community. CIT Y LEADS City Leads work on the ground in the cities we enter, handling logistics, organizing meetings, and leading volunteers through the Soul Searching training. HEADQUAR TERS The HQ team was located in San Francisco for the National Street Service’s pilot year, and was responsible for steering the direction of NSS. Headquarters was staffed with a team drawn from the founding partners at Greenfield Labs, who bring expertise in human-centered design, and Gehl - experts in making cities for people. Graduating from its pilot year, the National Street Service headquarters will move to Ford World Headquarters in Dearborn, MI. ASSESSMENT & S TORY TELLIN G We collaborate with specialists in assessment and creative storytelling to ensure our work is meeting its goals and resonating with people.

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A brainstorming session with Headquarters staff and City Leads at the outset of the program.


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City Leads Deanna and Casey from Boise kick back after several days of hard work constructing street furniture in collaboration with local volunteers. The furniture created now functions as a kit which can be deployed for future projects like parklets and street events.

Volunteers in Boise assemble a bike rack from Better Block's CNC-cut wood pieces.

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History of the Organization San Francisco Pilot

Experimentation + Preparation

The National Street Service was created as an experiment in how to transform the culture of what streets can be in America. As a fledgling project, we create three experiments to test our hypothesis around shared values, empathy, and inclusive participation.



We created several light tests of theories of change with small projects on the ground, focusing on reaching people driving, ideas of permission, and shame and confession.



 

   

  

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Four Cities Pilot

Synthesis

We expanded to two additional cities (Boise, ID and Philadelphia, PA) - hiring two city leads and a cohort of 30 people in each city. Volunteers participated in Soul Searching training, created their own street experiments, and executed large city-wide events. During this pilot the organization evolved based on volunteer feedback, and added two additional cities (San Antonio, TX and Pontiac, MI) who reached out and asked to join the movement.

Headquarters staff and city leads convened in San Francisco to participate in sessions to discuss the impact of the program. We created three videos expressing what we learned from our pilot cities and dozens of volunteer video-vignettes. We create this field guide to tell our story, share our insights about streets, and lead us into future evolutions of the National Street Service. These insights inform a set of Principles for the Living Street of Tomorrow which are intended to inspire and shape how future street stewards, mobility companies, and urban designers create the streets of tomorrow.

 



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A bout the N SS

Selection Criteria How we chose our Pilot Cities Having completed our first pilot in San Francisco, we wanted to enrich our understanding of the value and potential of streets across a broader crosssection of cities across America. So, in 2018, we expanded our National Street Service pilot to Boise, Idaho and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Thanks to the dedication of enthusiastic city leads in San Antonio, Texas and Pontiac, Michigan, who put their hands up to run programs in their own cities, we have had the chance to reach even further. Cities can be chosen on two different criteria. Broadly:

1. Cities where we have been invited to create a cohort

2. Cities which are selected for strategic expansion

With an enthusiastic city lead candidate (or organization) ready to roll out the program with minimal input from HQ

A clear path or commitment to an ongoing presence within the city

With a city or business sponsor willing to contribute staff and financial resources to create a new city program

Enhances and diversifies the perspective of the National Street Service; a city which adds a distinctive new built environment, set of challenges, context or street culture to the existing cohort of cities

A clear path or commitment to an ongoing presence within the city

A charismatic city whom others look to for inspiration

A city with reason and impetus for change - this may be population expansion, political or grassroots support, investment or culture change

Legible context for action - possible to gather people, do a project

Relatable America

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How we picked our City Leads City Leads play a pivotal role in coordination of a city program on the ground. They are responsible for helping volunteers to understand their local streets, brainstorm ideas, and build their ideas. They are also responsible for sharing insights with headquarters and leaders in other cities. The expertise and passion of the City Leads influences the direction of the rollout in a positive way. We typically recommend hiring two leads per city, with differing but complementary skillsets.

1. City Leads must have:

2. Additional skills / strengths Choose leaders with strengths which align with the strategic needs of a given city project

Clear, confident, motivational communication skills

Focused on potential over problems

Experiences working with diverse groups (ie race, sexual orientation and age)

Organizational skills / can be project manager

Experience managing others

Background in planning / architecture / urbanism

Background in community service / extensive experience with local organizations

Adds a new perspective; bringing additional depth and diversity to the team

Commitment + potential for impact in their career

Building/Making/production experience

Civic Tech

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A bout the N SS

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Volunteer Cohort Selection We invite everyone to be a participant in reshaping streets to meet the needs of their communities. This inclusive approach is what makes us different from other niche, interest-led organizations; and this makes us a true and credible voice for better streets with the backing of people across neighborhoods, generations, cultures and city lines. This is why a commitment to diversity in selection of volunteer cohorts is critical. Aim for diversity of interests, demographics and professional skill sets in order to build a rich and inclusive conversation about streets.

1. Individual volunteer selection criteria

Demonstrates an interest in streets

Commitment / availability to participate in meetings and training program

2. Cohort selection criteria

Diversity of knowledge and professional experience •

Everyday people

Members of local community organizations

Representatives from the city responsible for streets (engineers, planners, maintenance workers, etc)

Professionals / students of urban design, architecture, planning

Artists, creatives and makers

Local business owners

Others with skills specific to the needs of the specific city program

Diversity of demographics for broad representation across social groups age, gender, race, socioeconomic status etc.

Diversity across city and neighborhood lines 21


A bout the N SS

Core Values Everything we do is centered in the core values we have uncovered in our research. These values represent the human needs that we ask our streets to provide.

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Honor Legacy Our streets embody an incredible amount of history. As communities evolve, we remember the people, places, and moments that make our streets what they are today.

Celebrate Surprise Delightful moments on the street remind us we are part of an intimately connected world. Meandering through our streets, we relish new discoveries.

Rest & Reflect Amidst a constantly speeding world, moments to pause are worth treasuring. Invitations to rest on the street support an essential pleasure of human life.

Welcome Creativity Streets are the public expression of the people who use them. By contributing to the culture of our streets, together we create our cities.

Appreciate Beauty Beautiful places help us feel alive. Through enjoying our surroundings, we are rejuvenated and uncover meaning in our streets. Beautiful spaces mean someone has invested time and care into a place, which adds value to our shared human experience.

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K ey I nsights

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Key Insights 24


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K ey I nsights

Introduction

Our insights are drawn from the deep participatory engagement with people on the street, which we conducted in the course of rolling out the National Street Service in 5 cities across the United States. They provide insight into how it feels as a human on the street, and the challenges and tensions which must be navigated to build better streets. They provide strategies to help define ‘better streets’ informed by community priorities, help people understand what is possible, break down barriers to civic participation, and help people find common ground.

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K ey I nsights

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[EMPOWERING PEOPLE]

Agency in the street takes many different forms. Individuals often need a nudge to trigger participation.

There are a variety of ways that people naturally engage in shaping their streets. We’ve identified various roles one can play on the street, and named them: Street Ninja, Street Bee, Streetheart, Street Ranger, and Street Maker. Supporting and encouraging action suited to the individual's preferred role provides that nudge to participate. The demand for participation in the street is largely untapped. More people want to or would participate in shaping the street than the current system allows; understanding these modes of participation is a powerful way to engage broader audiences.

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Street Maker Brings the street alive by making artifacts which express their individual and community stories.

Street Bee Loves the buzz of social connection and always knows the word on the street.

Streetheart The kind heart, who wants people to feel safe and cared for on the street.

Street Ranger The official, a diligent people watcher, planner, and authority whisperer.

Street Ninja The quiet helping hand who cares about streets but likes to work in the background.

Nudge: Provide creative resources and inspiration

The Philly Youth team found their voice through the physical act of making, creating a ‘dream wall’ to invite community contribution in the street.

Nudge: Help explore their curiosity and generate talking points and questions

Ailbhe made an impact by facilitating stronger social connections in the street; inviting her neighbors to a tea party in the street.

Nudge: Don't overlook tried and true street improvements which meet a real need

Regina worked with pride to be of service to her community - installing and maintaining her 'Gigi's 3D Trash Can' to compensate for the unavailability of trash collection in her area.

Nudge: Connect to city-level systems and priorities

Ethan spoke with authority on behalf of his community, by first creating a poll to understand community attitudes to commuting.

Nudge: Allow for teamwork or anonymous action.

A volunteer in Philadelphia wanted to engage with people anonymously, leaving 'welcome to walking' messages for people at a key moment - as they stepped out of their cars and entered the street.

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02

[ENGAGEMENT]

Dictating what to do does not inspire action; leading with questions honors the local context.

There is a local context which must be respected in each city, and providing a framework for participation equips people to take control of their own environment. Creating a flexible program, which gives people space to evolve their ideas, interact within their neighborhood, and make change in the street helps build confidence in the relevance of their ideas and actions. “People have a set way of thinking and if we reframe the subject, we can help them explore new ideas. We need to give people the tools to think about streets in new ways.” - Rachel, Boise Volunteer “You want the community to be the expert, to make the choices. Visioning is critical, and there’s an education piece that needs to happen. Beyond the policy change, there needs to be an understanding of your experience in the street. Then you can come to your own conclusions which often overlap with best practice.” - Alexandra, Boise Volunteer

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Lead with questions Allow participants to form their own perspective

Tools to observe & compare streets

Knowledge of jargon, systems and institutions

Inspiration & case studies

Embodied experiences & interventions

Provide flexible framework for action Allow participants to take action on their own ideas

Seek community feedback to understand local priorities

Participants determine own priorities and ideas

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K ey I nsights

03

[BELONGING]

Feeling comfortable to be present or take action on the street depends on a sense of belonging and permission.

People prize the ability to choose to be anonymous or receive attention in the street. People who don’t feel they physically or socially belong in the street lack the permission to use and shape the street, or challenge existing rules. Many people feel like they don’t have permission to be in the street unless they have an articulated purpose: “Vulnerability and being naked on the street are things on my mind these days. Having a purpose on the street, is that enough? If someone is looking at me, do I need an explanation? Why do I need a reason to be there? If I’m cycling in the street, I don’t have to be biking a marathon. I deal with streets all the time as an engineer, but I realize that I’m not even comfortable being there without having a true purpose.” - Brett, Boise Volunteer

We heard loud and clear that people of color felt less comfortable to participate in the "harmless rule breaking" of the NSS because of legitimate fear for their safety. “I have to be conscious of how I dress when I go into Center City, if I wear a hoodie I don’t feel like I have permission to be there.” - Philly Volunteer

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HEURISTICS OF BELONGING

I belong because: I have a legacy I spend my time I am welcomed I am useful I can afford My values are respected I look/think like those around me I make a space my own I am known/valued I am human

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K ey I nsights

04

[CAR EXPERIENCE]

Vehicle design creates an emotional and physical barrier to connection.

In their cars, people are detached from experiencing the street and miss out on the richness that comes from a visceral understanding of place and connecting with the people who inhabit it. The sensation is summarized most poignantly by N from Boise “I drove to school and it just seemed like I was driving and seeing the world through a picture screen or I was in a cinema. When I got out of the car and started biking everywhere I was inside the moment —it wasn’t just something out there, it was me inside the city, inside people’s lives, inside the stories around us.” - N, Boise Volunteer

We have a diminishing ability to connect on a human level to people who aren't our family, friends, or co-workers in public space, a connection we crave as humans. While there are many structures that contribute to this phenomenon, from land use to technology, the barriers presented by private vehicles exemplify this. This disconnection can result in a sense of entitlement that reinforces difference, indifference, and even contempt towards other modes of transportation.

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SENSORY EXPERIENCES OF THE STREET We currently design cars to be pristine, comfortable places, but in the process we seal ourselves off from the richness and joy of life on the street, and from the chance to connect with people and places along our way. How might we change the street, to invite the participation and connection of people in vehicles? And conversely - how might we change vehicles to deliver a greater connection to the experience of streets, people, and places?

Social Distance There are a set of standard distances for which it is comfortable for humans to interact socially from the distance at which one can have a conversation comfortably, to the distance at which one can signal with gestures. The current scale of vehicles, emphasis on speed, and layout of streets minimize the kind of social interactions that are possible while in motion.

Sight Our peripheral vision is largely restricted - directing our focus to a dull, homogenous world of standard road markings and vehicles around us - and hiding from view the sights which show a 'local flair'.

Climate & Smells Smells are powerful anchors which help us forge memories to a given place - freshly turned earth, flowers in bloom, fragrant local cuisines, wet ground after rain, or the smell of the sea.

Sounds To be awake to the life surrounding you - to hear the sounds of people going about their daily business, enjoying the outdoors, and the sounds of nature.

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05

[VULNERABILITY]

The current rules of the street place the burden of attention on those most vulnerable.

Older people, younger people, and those with mobility challenges move more slowly and are less protected in public space. Streets that prioritize the most vulnerable are good for everyone - yet currently the agreed priority is speed for vehicles, not safety for the vulnerable. As humans we face natural limits - limits like the speed we can move through space, and the level of vigilance and attention we can bring to our surroundings. For vulnerable users of the street, one lapse in attention can have tragic consequences. Streets should not demand impossible, superhuman levels of attention to guarantee safety. I realized that in hardship, in rain or snow, the needs of the pedestrian should carry more weight. - Zara, Boise Volunteer

Good streets are designed intentionally for the comfort and safety of their most vulnerable users. If streets are made for all people, of all genders, of all races, of all abilities and mobilities, and of all ages, then all people can be comfortable there - so prioritizing the needs of the most vulnerable has a net benefit for all users of the street.

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LEAST VULNERABLE

Demand Attention

Selectively Pay Attention

Burden of Attention

MOST VULNERABLE

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[SPACE + CULTURE]

Physical space influences culture; culture influences physical space.

The culture of a street is the sum of two parts, and both parts influence one another. Targeting either factor — mindsets or space — can change the whole experience of the street, and thus the city. Acting on both simultaneously offers the most powerful results; whether this is through acting alone, or leveraging strategic partnerships. “I’m interested in how to go back in time and take the world from car-centric to place-centric. How we can make people see themselves as part of the community, not just passing through it, but as part of it. With a sense of agency and ownership of it.” - Alexandra, Boise Volunteer

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The design of physical space shapes culture by dictating what people can experience and their beliefs about what is possible on the street. By experiencing a different street - even through a rough prototype or experiment - beliefs about what the street is for can be expanded.

street form INFLUENCES

street culture The culture of the street, as expressed by the soul, emotions, mindsets and culture of the community that occupies it, shapes the kind of actions and changes that are acceptable to a given street. Influence the culture in the right places and it will impact the form.

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[COMPLEXITY OF ISSUES]

Streets are the frontline for local social issues, which adds inherent complexity to understanding mindsets towards the street.

Attempts to influence the design of the street will inevitably surface serious local political concerns because the streets are a place where these issues manifest and intersect. The realm of streets is inherently political because streets are public space. “Beautification can sometimes feel wrong on my street. We don't want more benches. We want to get rid of benches. Benches are where bad things happen.” - Anaije, Philadelphia Youth Team Volunteer “It surprised me that so many business owners are against improvement. They are afraid they will lose business if they lose parking spaces.” - Deborah, Boise Volunteer

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Issue... Gentrification & displacement

Violence & trauma

Safety for people who walk and people who bike

Environmental issues

Disinvestment & historical inequities

Implicit bias

Surfaces... Resistance to street improvements & beautification for fear of rising rents Fear of making streets comfortable / welcoming for people to linger, due to personal safety concerns Conflicts between advocacy organizations and local businesses over street space, parking, land use Disputes about transportation investment - shared vs individual mobility options Resistance to city authorities due to distrust / past mismanagement Mistrust of law enforcement due to inequitable application of street rules

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K ey I nsights

08

[COMMON GROUND]

Street space is hotly contested, but shared values are a tool to connect disparate interest groups.

The conversation and control of the street is splintered into tiny niche interest groups and specific city organizations. There is a need to advance the conversation - to get people together and find common ground. No matter where you go, street space is a hotly contested resource. But the interest groups in conflict vary depending on the locale. When entering a community with the hope of influencing the built form or experience of streets, it is crucial to identify the entry point by finding a commonality that can bridge divides. In Boise, the concept of the street offering any value beyond mobility was a radical idea - the value of the street as a place was not something most volunteers had considered. Broadly, Idaho's civic discourse is divided along conservative vs. liberal lines. An experiment created by Kenny, a volunteer, uncovered a resonant message that cut across these divides to communicate the value of streets as a place. His experiment was to create a sign which appropriated the aesthetic of the National Parks Service, familiar and beloved across political divides in Idaho. The sign was an instant hit as an emblem of Boise streets - it was loaned across the city to spread the message, and made local headlines when it was stolen.

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Idaho:

politically conservative

we love our public lands!

politically liberal

streets are public land; lands of many uses!

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[SMALL SCALE, BIG IMPACT]

Knowing how to relate to the street helps people relate to the larger city system.

Being able to take the stage in their own community gives people the confidence to become stakeholders at greater scales, in larger and different contexts. Our program helped our volunteers understand their unique perspective on the street, giving them confidence to find the right channels and voice their concerns. Experiencing personal agency in the street - even in a small way - creates the confidence and expectation for greater agency and influence. The street is a microcosm for society. Power is granted by showing up. For Briana, a teenager in the Youth Program (a group of underprivileged teens from North Philadelphia), our program helped foster a rich understanding of her local street, making her an expert of that place. This confidence empowered her to stand in front of an audience in center city, and speak with authority in front of a room full of adults. “I have a special role to play. I have seen a lot of hard things and I have experienced a lot - I have a unique perspective. I’ve been shot at in the street, I’ve been hit by a car in the street, and I’ve almost been homeless.” - Briana, Philadelphia Youth Team

This local expertise also gave her a way connect her neighborhood to the broader city systems AND grasp the larger structures, channels, and political agencies that impact her streets.

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Streets connect us across many scales politics

advocacy

community

neighbors

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3 Soul Searching 46


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Eve, a Philadelphia City Lead, records the “Guided Street Meditation,� a tool for exploring the streets with audio prompts.

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What is Soul Searching? Aims of Soul Searching Soul Searching is our immersive course in street action for people who want to improve streets for themselves and their communities. The training curriculum guides volunteers through a process which allows them to see their street with fresh eyes, connect with their community, brainstorm ideas, and experiment with ways to make improvements which positively impact the experience of the streets they care about.

How it works The training curriculum is available as both a printed kit, and also an app. It is structured as a step-by-step process with simple exercises which each take about an hour to complete. The training forms the basis of our cities program - volunteers are guided through the training as a group with guidance from their City Leads - local experts hired to facilitate the program in their home city. The entire curriculum is also freely available online for individuals and groups to try without the guidance of headquarters, to maximize the potential for impact using the tools we have created.

The Soul Searching Kit features the Soul Searching workbook and interactive activities to price tag the streets and create customized signs.

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Program Structure Our program structure has been through several iterations to craft a sequence of experiences which help volunteers to see the full potential of their local streets and explore what better streets mean to them and their communities. The first two steps are formalized on our training curriculum; collective action and city shareback events are facilitated by City Leads and Headquarters staff. 1. OBSERVATION & REFLECTION Creating meaningful change requires volunteers to see beyond their own surface-level, individual assumptions of the street. Through guided observation and reflection, volunteers are taught to think critically about their local streets. 2. INDIVIDUAL ACTION Making even the smallest change to the physical structure of the street is a powerful demonstration that streets are changeable, and that anyone can contribute to the experience of public space. By brainstorming ideas and building small, low-cost ‘street experiments’ to test the kind of improvements they feel are most relevant to their local context, volunteers learn that change is in their hands. 3. C OLLECTIVE ACTION Building on the work conducted in individual experiments, volunteers band together to bring a larger scale intervention to the street, to share what they have learned with their local community and build support for their vision for local streets. Working together on a more ambitious project prepares volunteers for long-term action, which requires finding a community and working together towards a common cause. 4. CIT Y SHAREBAC K EVENT S Making a more permanent impact on streets requires connecting volunteers to the existing authorities who are responsible for shaping streets. At city shareback events our volunteers and city leads mingle with city officials, aligned community organizations, and interested parties to share the findings and ideas they have uncovered in their work. 51

The Philadelphia Youth Team built street furniture at Public Workshop, a local maker space.


S oul Searching

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Street Scavenger Hunt, Boise


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S oul Searching

Celsa, San Francisco

Dre'ana, Philadelphia

Briana, Philadelphia

Hannah, Boise

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(Right) Alexandra, Boise


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S oul Searching

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(Left, Below) Juliana, Boise

(Right) Youth Team, Philadelphia

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C ity Programs

4 City Programs 58


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C ity Programs

Pilot Cities and Programs

223,154 peo

ple

83 mi²

2,718 people

/ mi²

16% non-white 88% people d

rive

Boise, ID

San Francisco, CA (Headquarters)

852,469 47 mi² / mi² people 9 7 6 , 18 people

-white

63% non e ple driv 42% peo

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59,698 p 20 mi² i² ople / m 2,984 pe eople

hite

73% non-w le drive 93% peop

Pontiac, MI

Philadelphia, PA 1,568,000 142 mi²

people

11,685 people / mi² 70% non-white

59% people d

rive

San Antonio, TX

1,493, 000 465 mi²

3,211p

eople

/ mi²

n-whit

e

82% no

90% pe

people

ople d rive

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San Francisco, C A

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San F rancisco, C A

A local resident fills out a postcard to the city supervisor to request changes to the streets of Inner Sunset.

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San Francisco, California Why did we pick this city? The Bay Area is the headquarters of the National Street Service and home to a diverse profile of street types, street life, and neighborhoods. We piloted the very first “street ranger” cohort in San Francisco in 2017 with a dozen people from across the Bay Area and continue to prototype and incubate projects with communities here in our backyard.

What was the biggest impact of NSS here? Our very first cohort of Street Rangers continue to value the experience, which pushed them out of their comfort zone.

How has NSS changed because of this pilot? Through work in the Bay Area the National Street Service adapted our approach to work more intentionally with disadvantaged communities and people of color; to be radically candid about our origins within a vehicle company; to hire on diverse voices including from our ranks of street rangers; and that even in places associated with progressive values streets as treasured public land often get left behind.

Street Rangers were drawn from across the city, representing a diverse range of neighborhoods.

“People want a catalyst for communication. People want a more participatory experience, they want to see themselves in the artwork. I would say for the same for the street. People want to influence where they live.” - Tara, Boise Volunteer

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Participatory Streets

Street Ranger Cole discusses the experience of her local streets.

A street ranger in the South Beach district chose to focus on pedestrian safety, sending an email requesting a new crosswalk to be installed at a location where people have a desire to cross safely, but no means to do so.

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Street Ranger Laura observes her local streets to identify potential improvements.

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(top) Street Rangers expressed their desires for better streets, and tested ideas using chalk. (left) A bench installed by a Street Ranger to make the street more welcoming. 69


Boise, I D

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“Boise Public Streets: Land of Many Uses� borrowed the iconography from the National Parks to help convey that streets are public places that belong to everyone. This sign was an individual experiment from a Boise cohort member who moved it to different locations around the city. When it disappeared from the street one day it made local headlines, demonstrating the power of the message and its relevance to the community.

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Boise, Idaho Why did we pick this city? Boise is one of the fastest growing cities in the US known for its high quality of life and small-town mountain-west values. Residents have been drawn to the city as a hub of tech and culture as well as its reputation as one of the best places to raise an active, healthy family. Ranked as the 5th most physically active major city in the US1, Boise is advantageously situated at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, along the Boise River with abundant opportunities for outdoor recreation. Boise’s job pool is projected to increase even more dramatically than its population, by 66%, which will lead to greater demands on existing public transit infrastructure2. Politically, Boise is situated within a red state, and demographically, there is very little diversity with only 16% of the population identified as non-white. As a typical mountain west American city undergoing an influx of residents with a commitment to maintaining its values of liveability, Boise is already a model for sustainable growth for many other cities across the US. With this dramatic growth comes new demands for the “We need more social street. Many residents are choosing a car-optional lifestyle bonding, more and prefer to live in neighborhoods that support a range opportunities to get to of mobility options. While the downtown is very walkable, know your neighbors, much of Boise was built around the automobile with sharing and helping, even substantial post-war development that embedded four if means waiting for the and five lane highways in the downtown and pushed bus together. ” most residential development to suburban sprawl. More - Stacie, Boise Volunteer recently, the residents of Boise have become very vocal about the future of the city. Community organizations and local residents have been rallying against proposals that they argue will increase traffic, harm the walkability and charm of the neighborhood and remove badly needed affordable housing. 1 2

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Center for Disease Control COMPASS, CIM 2040


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Volunteers City Lead Casey McLellan

City Lead Deanna Smith

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Amidst this change, a tension exists between the city and county who have very different attitudes towards streets. Contrary to the city, the county, who controls the streets and is responsible for their maintenance and improvements, has a more car-centric mindset and has historically deprioritized improving the quality of space for pedestrians or cyclists. The NSS chose to run a pilot in Boise because we felt that the pressures of rapid population growth on streets would provide urgency for our platform. We were also curious to test if our messages would resonate in a conservative political and cultural context. Boise volunteers came from neighborhoods throughout the city, and represented a wide variety of ages, from college students to retirees.

What was the biggest impact of NSS here? The quick-action framework of the NSS was a powerful way to spark empowerment and possibilities, especially in Boise where social stigma for doing things out of the ordinary is especially strong. Through experimenting and putting things out into the physical world, volunteers were able to overcome the barriers that they sensed around the street, see the impact of their actions and learn that they can create change The idea of streets as Public Lands was successful at tying the value of nature to the value of streets. The National Parks system is part of the state of Idaho and widely loved and visited. One of the volunteers borrowed the iconography of the National Park and extended this concept of public lands to the streets of Boise. The recognition helped people grasp the concept of street as a place for everyone; a “land of many uses”. Volunteers advocated for dynamic and pedestrianfriendly elements of downtown Boise streets to be expanded throughout the city.

“People feel more ownership in the downtown area because it’s filled with people and exciting. People love that space and interact with it a lot. In the suburbs it’s car dominated. The more car dominated it is, the more people need permission to use the streets.” - Hannah, Boise Volunteer

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“I want to see some of that creativity from downtown brought to the suburbs, that is my dream. I would like to see buffered bike lanes, street trees, bus shelters, padded bench seats, public art, statues, painted electrical boxes. Let’s spread out the creativity, I don’t want to concentrate it exclusively in one place.”

- Stacie

How has NSS changed because of this pilot? Belonging and comfort must be established to enable action. Volunteers must feel comfortable to physically be in street space before they can develop the required confidence to take action in the street. To deal with this challenge, we have learned some simple mechanisms “Having a purpose on the to mitigate the discomfort. The first is seeking to street, is that enough? If understand a volunteer’s comfort level, in order to tailor someone is looking at me, exercises to build up this comfort and confidence in small, do I need an explanation? actionable steps. The second is guiding volunteers to craft I deal with streets all the a simple set of talking points which outline their goals and time as an engineer, but I actions in the street.

realize that I’m not even comfortable being there without having a true purpose.”

Finding the right message is critical. We learned that you need to shape a message which suits the location, and cuts across political divides. In Boise, we came up with a concise pithy reason for people to care, Public Lands. Well-loved by Boiseans across the political spectrum, Public Lands proved to be the ideal concept, as the opportunity to consider streets as Public Lands demonstrated the vibrant potential inherent in this forgotten public space.

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- Brett, Boise Volunteer


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Seeking the pain point. When surveying the local context, the challenge is really the opportunity. We have to figure out: What is everyone arguing about here? What are the most contentious issues? What can you not talk about here? These questions will ultimately lead to the pressing issues that cut across lines with the potential to shape the most poignant discussions. The streets are the larger arena where these public debates manifest around public assets. In Boise, the biggest challenge is growth and the issues that presents - balancing the need to accommodate population growth while maintaining the quality of life that attracts people to the area. In Boise we could see that as a city grows, its streets, public realm, and mobility systems become more important as demands on them increase. Many residents express frustration at the pace of change. Others want to see Boise friendliness mixed with more modern housing and transportation options. As the city densifies, the highway-design focus of the agency that controls Boise’s streets, Ada County Highway District, stands in starker contrast to the emerging public desires for bike facilities, reliable sidewalks, and a more robust bus network.

Boise volunteer N created a community chest to facilitate sharing among neighbors.

“I never thought about streets as public land. As an Idahoan I love the idea of public land being parallel to public streets. Public land is so critical to Idahoans.�

- Ethan. Boise Volunteer

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Soul Searching Experiments

Commuter Poll Ethan created a commuter poll in downtown Boise to draw attention to the way people feel about how they get to and from work, bringing awareness to the elements that could improve the experience. The experiment was featured in social media and circulated widely.

Butt Counter Boise volunteers created a comfort stop by outfitting a bus stop adjacent to a busy 4-lane road with cushioned rocking chairs and a small table. They left a small chalkboard to tally the number of people that enjoyed the experience.

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A pair of Boise volunteers who are studying art created an interactive art piece that incorporated onlookers by provoking them to draw their portraits on a mirror, creating a community collage of faces that literally reflects the street surroundings.

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Experiments explored a range of ideas from placemaking and wayfinding to discovery and protection. These projects highlight “pay-it-forward� efforts to build community like chalk kits that come with prompts which you pass to your neighbor when complete. There were also examples of sharing new hidden paths with neighbors and drawing attention to community treasures.

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(above) The “Protection and Comfort� site activated a strip mall parking lot that bleeds into a highway without sidewalk or curb demarcations. The team installed a white picket fence and astro-turf to call attention to the street border. Street games and live musical performances demonstrated how street life flourishes when people are unburdened from fear and discomfort. The site also hosted interactive bike safety exercises for young cyclists.

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(right) A free trolley connected all three sites, offering a streets-themed city tour to explore the value and potential of Boise's streets.


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Final Project: Public Lands Tour The efforts of the volunteers in Soul Searching and Street Experiments culminated in a group project called the “Boise Public Lands Tour,” hosted at three distinct sites across the city. Each site was themed to demonstrate a different theory for how to improve the street - inspiring “Reflection,” cultivating “Comfort & Protection,” and instilling a sense of “Ownership” of the street for all users. There was a

range of activations, including dance performances in crosswalks, trolley tours, experience prototypes of better street life, and chances to try elements of the Soul Searching curriculum. Ice cream trucks, food trucks, live music, and games devised with a spin on the street attracted a lively and engaged audience of participants throughout the day.

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(left) At the “Ownership” site participants were lured to take ownership of the street with hula hoop contests, dance performances in the cross-walk, and flamenco lessons staged throughout the day.

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(above) A volunteer at the “Reflection” site guides visitors through soul searching activities and a design exercise where people can test different street configurations with trees on wheels and chalk-drawn streets.


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The Boise Public Lands Tour attracted a broad group of participants who partook in trolley rides, interactive chalk walls, creative signage, street horoscopes, dance classes, and street chess.

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Street performances captivated audiences and electrified the streets with music and movement.

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Floor mats were painted with two messages - “Welcome to Walking” and “Welcome to Driving” to greet drivers when they stepped in and out of their vehicles. They call attention to the two modes of transportation while reminding drivers that they are also pedestrians.

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The National Street Service noticed that the oversized street signs in Boise had been designed for fast-moving vehicles in the distance, instead of humans in the foreground. To highlight this design choice the team designed and hung smaller signs that read “signs for humans, streets for people� to make people more aware of how the built environment can be coded to prioritize certain modes.

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City Leads Casey and Deanna relax after a day of making flexible street furniture

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These past five months working alongside an amazing group of individuals from many different walks of life as we explored the possibilities of Boise’s streets together has been exhilarating. I work professionally advocating for making our streets safer for people walking and biking, improving transit and creating “place” in our streets and communities and this project really gets at the essence of our challenge - helping people see the true value of our streets as places for people and starting conversations in communities about how we can reinvent our streets to achieve their full potential. From the Soul Searching curriculum to the Streets to Streets card game, the National Street Service has developed a wonderful set of tools to do just this. It was exciting to watch as our volunteers used these tools to explore their streets from a new perspective, discovering their own values and desires for their streets. Then taking the next step to act on those desires and find ways to share what they discovered with others. The overwhelmingly positive response to our Public Lands Tour on May 12th from the many residents who came out to see what the buzz was all about makes me hopeful about the future of our communities. People readily joined in the conversation about how we can make our streets for people - not just transportation and vehicles. They danced, played games, ate and conversed in our “public lands” we had created along three very different streets - discovering new ways to enjoy their city streets. I hope we can keep the conversation going.

Deanna Smith Boise City Lead

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Volunteers spill out into the street with their creations at Public Workshop, a local maker space. The team collaborated to create guerilla benches and seesaws that were distributed across the city.

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Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Why did we pick this city? In our search for pilot cities, we wanted to be influenced by a racially diverse east coast city with iconic streetlife. We can think of no better city than Philadelphia, a mature city that has experienced glory on its streets, as well as challenges. Philadelphia has a long history as a major American city, the 6th largest, with a population of 1.5 million. While Philadelphia is a diverse city with over 70% of the population identified as non-white, it is the 4th most segregated city in the US. Philadelphia is a dense city with over 11,000 residents per square mile. Over 64% of residents drive to work and 70% of the households own a car. At the same time it is transit friendly and has many options for public transportation, ranking #5 in the country, with a newly launched bike share across the city. Philadelphia has a large and relatively robust transit system, a mix of street types ranging from colonial era cobblestone alleys to modern wide thoroughfares, and a city-wide culture of stoop-sitting and block parties. Philly is at a crossroads: it is growing for the first time since it started shrinking after industrial decline, yet this growth has not been shared equally. Philadelphia’s long legacy of advocacy and nonprofit work has meant that many advocacy groups and nonprofits work on issues that intersect with streets in Philadelphia. Their great work tends to focus on niche issues specific to certain people, modes, or neighborhoods, and we thought the National Street Service project could add to the dialogue in Philadelphia by demonstrating that streets are the connective tissue across all of these divergent interests. With the presence of many budding urbanists and an active local government that wants to improve Philly’s public spaces, we felt the potential for success was high. The soul and depth of Philadelphia’s street culture, from stoops to block parties, informed and inspired the National Street Service as a model of how to build streets which facilitate connection and belonging for those who use them.

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Philadelphia's streets are so important to its identity they have become recognized as a world heritage site. www.ovpm.org/en/cities/philadelphia


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Volunteers City Lead Alexa Bosse

City Lead Eve Belizaire

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What was the biggest impact of NSS here? A diverse group of volunteers had the opportunity to mingle and connect. Our volunteers represent a broad cross-section of Philadelphia: living all over the city, of a wide range of ages, diverse in race, religion, socioeconomic status and sexual orientation. In a city struggling with a high degree of segregation we have shown that people are able to enjoy each others company, share their passions, work together as a team, learn from each other, want to visit, work with and connect more with other volunteers from other parts of the city. We built passion for and belief in the goal of improving streets. Volunteers have emerged from the ten week program with energy and enthusiasm for the goal of better streets, demanding more and wanting to know what is next. A new community was built, and existing communities were strengthened. The program successfully mingled and integrated volunteers from neighborhoods across the city - new bonds were kindled through the process of working together toward a common goal. In addition to uniting the volunteers with one another, the program served to strengthen bonds across the communities we served. One volunteer met more of her neighbors in the two weeks of Soul Searching than she had in the previous two years in the neighborhood. Neighborhood lines were bridged. Our projects, meetings, activities and gatherings brought people together from all over the city to meet, share ideas and laughs, and most importantly to support one another. Support was provided support for aligned local organizations. We successfully connected volunteers and local residents for the wide variety of government and citizen led organizations working across a variety of specialties to build better streets. We had some successes in bridging the divide between the public and those with power and responsibility for the street, bringing together police, firefighters and city officials to present and connect at events.

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Philly's energetic Youth Team enjoying our City Shareback Event


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How has NSS changed because of this pilot? Working in Philadelphia has helped give the National Street Service roots in a historic east coast city, while shaping our programs to be more impactful in pre-automobile cities with thriving civic and nonprofit sectors, and ensuring as we grow that the National Street Service is responsive to issues of displacement, poverty, and racial discrimination that both shape and show up in streets. The inclusion of the Youth Team in volunteer cohorts energized everyone. The energy and drive of the youth team was a highlight of the experience for many volunteers. In addition to breaking down generational barriers, the Youth Team forced our entire team to address dark realities on American streets by sharing their personal stories of trauma and perseverance. We learned that addressing both positive and challenging elements of the street is what leads to real change. Our experience in Philadelphia demonstrates the clear need for a commitment to social impact in all that we do. If we truly are committed to better streets for all, we cannot shy away from the challenges of disinvested and underrepresented communities.

“The streets are not always a positive place for everyone. They are fraught with complex histories, trauma, pain, suffering.� - Brittany, Youth Team leader

We learned that balancing a citywide program with neighborhood cohorts is powerful. Philadelphia is a large urban area, and the cohort included volunteers from all corners of the city. By hosting meetings in different parts of the city, and matching volunteers with buddies nearby, we struck a balance between the convenience of meeting nearby and the need to share in a city-wide conversation. But, in a dense city like Philadelphia, some volunteers still felt isolated from the cohort in their neighborhoods. In future iterations we will aim to build a citywide network of neighborhoodbased volunteers.

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Youth Leader Anaije and Volunteer Sarah work together on an experiment in their soul searching curriculum

Celebrating the contributions of our volunteers is a key element of the experience. Our volunteers are our most precious resource and must feel valued and appreciated for their work. We aim to embrace opportunities to acknowledge, elevate and share their hard work and keen insights. Approaching communities with sensitivity to local issues. Philadelphia’s diverse neighborhoods demanded a sensitive and nuanced approach which acknowledged both the negative and positive aspects of street life. Disinvested neighborhoods especially required an extra step - an opportunity to acknowledge the violence, trauma, suffering, and neglect before the work of changing the street can begin.

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Soul Searching Experiments

There's no place like home Lisa chose to honor the history of her neighborhood by highlighting a local author who wrote a series of Wizard of Oz books - by creating a 'yellow brick road' on her street in chalk.

Racing @ Franklin Samuel experimented with how to make drivers pay attention to his local intersection near Franklin Square, heavily trafficked by pedestrians - his signs used a trick of perspective to create an optical illusion visible to drivers at the critical junction.

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Rose chose to celebrate a moment of transition reminding drivers that they are also pedestrians with a 'welcome to walking' message strategically placed in parking spaces.

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(clockwise from top left Game wall - promoting play at a local bus stop Fireside chat - fostering community connection One man's trash - helping locals keep their streets clean Creative crossing - making a dangerous intersection more prominent Current historical markers - celebrating local success stories Pop-up playground and guerilla bench - affording play and comfort at trolley stops. 105


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Opening the street for the tri-block party allows everyone, young and old to enjoy the street.

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Final Project: Tri-Block Party Volunteers hosted three simultaneous block parties to unite the city of Philadelphia in a conversation about the value and potential of their streets.

The parties were also a model for the volunteers’ vision for Philadelphia’s streets - a place that is safe, inclusive, and welcoming. Meeting these criteria, streets come alive with a sense of community, culture and play.

A range of activities at the parties were offered to inspire conversations about streets and gather meaningful feedback on the needs of each community.

Kids draw their local streets at the Tri-Block Party

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The most popular activity at the event offered an opportunity to make a ‘welcome mat’. These mats are designed to face the opposite direction; to welcome you to the street as you leave your house. These will live on as a continuous reminder that the street belongs to the people who use them - to enjoy and to shape to suit the needs of their own communities.


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Taking a trip down memory lane with a game of hopscotch in the street, a simple action which often provokes nostalgia for less auto-centric streets.


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Tri Block Party guests had the opportunity to forge new connections in their community - getting to know each other and enjoying each others company.

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Closing the street to traffic; opening the street to people in Philadelphia felt natural given the city's tradition of block parties.

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The steps of Philadelphia provide a natural social space - affording a place to sit and connect with neighbors

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Sister Kathy writes on the youth team's “dream wall� which prompted people to share what they wanted to be when they grew up - forging a connection between the youth of today and other generations within the community.

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Alex and his daughter Alma post a letter in the youth team's “Community Listening Box,� sharing their ideas to help improve the North Philadelphia neighborhood.

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The South Philadelphia party was the first to occur on that block in close to twenty years - and welcomed visitors from across the entire neighborhood.

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Welcome mat painting, drawing and coloring activities allowed guests to exercise their creativity to enliven the streets.

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In advance of the Tri-Block Party, welcome mats were deployed across the entire city - spreading the message that Philadelphians should feel welcome and accepted on their streets.

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Dual-purpose 'welcome to driving' & 'welcome to walking' mats celebrate the transformation from motorist to pedestrian and highlight that both are valid and welcome actions on the street.


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The welcome mats are a playful subversion of the traditional welcome mat - by welcoming people to the street we make people feel at home in public space.

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Philly Youth Program Why did we work with youth? When it comes to opportunities, exposure, and support, low income neighborhoods are typically underserved; and the youth of these areas even more so. By working with the youth team in Philadelphia, the National Street Service hoped to better understand how to foster participation in communities which are under-represented in professional and civic discourse about streets, and how to inspire a new generation to seize the opportunity to transform streets for the benefit of themselves and their communities.

What was the biggest impact of NSS here? The chance to work with a large company such as Ford was an unprecedented level of opportunity. The youth were given a platform to share the stories of their individual experience and those of their neighborhoods, highlighting the challenges they face in their daily lives. They were able to gain transferable job skills that they can put on their resumes for future employment. And the impact goes beyond soft skills; they each used their own gifts, talents, and natural abilities to make this program come alive. Working alongside professional designers, urban planners and architects, the program afforded training and mentorship. Through the work, they were taken out their comfort zones and were challenged as leaders and teammates, employees and co-workers.

Haaziq proudly wears the shirt he designed at the Public Workshop

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How has NSS changed because of this pilot? The stories and experiences of the youth team and their communities - expressions of trauma, violence and hope - highlight the importance and potential of our work. Safer streets which facilitate community connection have the potential to radically change the lives of youth and people in low income neighborhoods.

We have learned that the street is an arena in which broader political and social justice issues play out - and changing the street is an accessible in-road to make progress towards these broader issues. The youth program revealed the weaknesses in our current curriculum, demonstrating a need to build civic literacy for all volunteers, and build a common language to talk about street design in an accessible way. Circulating our ideas across generational, racial, city and neighborhood lines enriches the conversation about streets by helping us to craft a message which resonates with diverse groups of people.

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The National Street Service has given our youth a platform to express their passion, and to uplift their voices


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“I help them understand that there are people in charge of their streets, their communities. And I ask them - do you want to be in charge?�

-Brittany, Youth Team Lead

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Youth Leader Brittney works with a young man to share his dream of what he wants to become when he grows up.

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Alex and Youth Leader Anaije dancing to the beat

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Youth Leader Anaije creates signs advertising the small businesses in her community

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Officer Alan talking to the kids about being a high school student when he was younger.

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Behind The Blue Program Why did we pick Behind The Blue? “Behind the blue is a program to help foster relationships between police and residents of the neighborhoods they serve. We will open the street to have open dialog between police and the Youth of the National Street Service.” - Alex, NSS HQ

The community perception of police in low income neighborhoods is one of abuse, brutality and an unjustjustice system, creating an ongoing tension between police and the communities they serve. This tension manifests in the streets, making this a key hurdle in improving the experience of streets in these communities. Behind the Blue seeks ways to foster relationships between police and communities via team building, activities, and group discussions that focus on volunteers seeing each other as humans rather than their professions or lifestyles.

What was the biggest impact of NSS here? Conducting a Behind the Blue session in the street was a radical idea - challenging the negative notion that police only show up in these neighborhoods to deal with crime. The presence of police cars can usually symbolize a crime that took place but we used it to open up the street and have a full day of eating pizza, enjoying conversations and painting with police officers. Participating in a fun, creative activity together and sharing stories from their childhoods, the typical tension was replaced with a relaxed, fun atmosphere which allowed everyone to build a positive connections with one another.

“I really love to paint, I love pizza and never hung out with the police before. But on the street, I got to eat pizza, paint, hang out with them, and see inside of the police car.” - Zoe

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Mixing police officers, youths and members of the community who stopped by in a relaxed, fun atmosphere created a memorable and hopeful moment for all involved, showing the potential for streets to change. A particularly meaningful moment we witnessed was when a parent of one of our students, who does not have a strong relationship with him, stopped by and stayed for the duration of the event, and had the chance to see the hard work of his son in action.

“I’ve been working on the Narcotics

squad since I was 19 years old, and have been a witness, victim and perpetrator of street violence. I switched from Narcotics to the Police Athletic league to be able to work more with youth. Behind the Blue gave me an opportunity to paint in the street with kids from my community which is something I’ve never done nor heard of before.” - Officer Allen

How has NSS changed because of this pilot? This project demonstrates the value of leaning in to explore social justice issues which intersect with the problems experienced on the street. The perception of the street as a place of harm and hurt within these neighborhoods lends urgency and depth to our mission. How we can help foster healing and peace on the streets is a question worthy of further exploration in our future endeavors.

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Officer Shana talks to the kids about her painting skills

-Brittany

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First of all, I would like to thank the entire National Street Service! From our supportive leads at headquarters to our very influential volunteers, you all have made this an impactful experience to remember. Over the course of our 10-week pilot we've discovered what worked and what didn't. We've dealt with time constraints, conflicting schedules and overall bouts of discouragement. In the end, this cohort still managed to curate, design, and build street experiments that influenced others to utilize and view the streets in a different way. We've also collaborated as a joint effort in order to execute three simultaneous street parties as a twist on Philly's famous Block parties. Through this, we were able to reintroduce people to public space, join neighborhoods, share a meal and provide resources all while having pure fun. Coming into this project, in an abstract sense I knew our goal but I didn’t necessarily know what to expect. I didn’t expect to meet such a passionate group of people dedicated to their streets. I didn’t expect to meet a youth team whose experiences would humble me. I also didn’t expect to build a community within us. Ladies and Gentlemen, together we accomplished so much. You are the National Street Service and the street will forever be yours. As we part for this summer break, I'm wishing you all safe travels and joyful memories!

Eve Belizaire Philadelphia City Lead

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Pontiac residents discussing the NSS and their streets in downtown Pontiac.

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Pontiac, Michigan Why did we pick this city? Pontiac Holonomy Incubator was enthusiastic about hosting the NSS in Pontiac. They reached out to us! Their portfolio showed dedication to design thinking, just like Greenfield Labs, and a firmly local, inclusive, and context-sensitive approach to the future of the public realm in Pontiac. Pontiac is a small city, a type of urban form we hadn’t worked with before. At 20 square miles and just under 60,000 people, Pontiac is the smallest city to try the NSS program. It also had the lowest median income, the lowest percentage of college-educated residents, and the highest percentage of people commuting by car of the five cities we’ve worked in so far. We understood quickly that we could learn a lot about how the NSS works in different contexts by trying it out in Pontiac. The city is also very close to Detroit, so there was a clear sense of historical connection to car culture, as well as the past, present, and future impacts of car companies on the built environment. As the lightest-touch of the five cities, City Leads Monica Williams and Jim Ross have taken an innovative approach to engaging with the National Street Service program. Instead of creating one steady cohort of volunteers, they’ve been bringing the NSS curriculum to all their events and programs, including Detroit Startup Week, the Young Entrepreneur Squad, and the Pontiac Youth Recreation Millage. By bringing the NSS into their on-going work, they reach many more people than they could with a single cohort. Although these volunteers do not enact their own experiments as part of the events, they do brainstorm experiments they would like to try. By spreading the curriculum widely throughout the city, they build momentum for change and a shared experience of seeing the streets anew.

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What was the biggest impact of NSS here? Pontiac Holonomy Incubator stressed the potential for people to be able to envision making the city for themselves, as what they want and need. As the city of Pontiac still grapples with population loss and economic torpor, the Pontiac Holonomy Incubator and other local organizations strive to give locals, especially local youth, a sense of future and dynamism in their home city. As City Leads for the NSS, Williams and Ross have used the NSS to demonstrate the imaginative opportunities latent in Pontiac’s streets. They hope that a sense of agency in making the built environment will give local residents a sense of pride and deep connection to their city.

City Leads Monica Williams

Jim Ross

How has NSS changed because of this pilot? Pontiac was our lightest-touch program. They experimented with bringing the NSS to public events rather than creating a single volunteer cohort. This gave us a new model for how we might expand the reach of the program, by contributing our tools and ideas in support of many local groups and organizations across the country who are also working hard to tackle issues which align with our purpose. By contributing to existing networks of advocates and events, the National Street Service could become truly national with much less effort from headquarters per volunteer than we’ve had in this phase. However, we also stress that this is the lightest implementation of the NSS. To organize build-together days, events, and real-life interventions in the streets it is still worthwhile to put more effort into individual cities. The Pontiac method of bringing the curriculum out to play at events can augment, but never entirely replace the hands-on, immersive National Street Service experience.

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(above) A Pontiac resident writes encouraging messages on the curb in downtown Pontiac. (left) National Street Service Pontiac City Lead Jim Ross out on the street recruiting volunteers at the city’s Community Center Pop-up event.


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Nicolas, the City Lead for San Antonio came well-prepared for street activation efforts with his creative vehicles, including a cargo bike adorned with a National Street Service flag, and an ice cream truck which transformed into a mobile office.

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San Antonio, Texas Why did we pick this city? When Participation Studio (PARTS) of San Antonio, Texas reached out to us to express interest in hosting a National Street Service cohort, we could see in their enthusiasm - and in their portfolio - that they are dedicated to civic participation in San Antonio. Given this demonstrated commitment to San Antonio and a focus on design for and with the people of their city, we determined PARTS would have the skills and capacity to be great City Leads for the National Street Service. The volunteer fellows in San Antonio brought a lot of creative muscle and a broad range of life experiences to the project. A pair of high school students, a dapper octogenarian, people who have lived in San Antonio their whole lives, immigrants from around the world, urban planners and art directors all brought their street experiences to the National Street Service curriculum. They gathered at selected sites around town to interpret the streets together, exploring what worked for them, and what they wanted from their streets. San Antonio has a highway-focused history, and a highway-focused present. The city is built in sprawling Texan fashion: the streets are wide, the trucks are big, and the people are inside in the air-conditioning. San Antonio has three times the land area of Philadelphia, yet has roughly the same population. The city is home to many military facilities; and thus receives substantial federal funding to keep its highways in top shape. As a result of this investment, the city continues to grow outward, ringed by highways which slice up the urban fabric. Despite the divisions, there are still signs of life in San Antonio. The Riverwalk downtown sees over 11 million visitors every year, making it the fifth most visited park per acre in the United States. The newly redeveloped Pearl District, is a food-andculture magnet within the city’s downtown. Between the 300-year-old downtown core and the new commuter homes on the periphery, there are hundreds of square miles of city with streets just as amenable to change as the downtown, but receiving a lot less official attention. How do people in this context want to express themselves on their streets? What do they need to feel comfortable and welcome in their streets? 149

“When I was approached about applying for the National Street Service, I was immediately intrigued because I had never thought of streets as something that I could personally improve, especially in a way centered around social design.” - Audry, Mayor’s Youth Council


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Volunteers City Lead Nicolas Rivard

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What was the biggest impact of NSS here? “At a moment when San Antonio is actively reshaping its downtown and transit system, the National Street Service offers important tools for boosting civic literacy around streets and public life. The San Antonio pilot cultivated 15 local champions who will continue to spread the idea that streets are for people. In a place where mobility still means a car to most people, these new voices are vital to changing transit culture.� - Nicolas, San Antonio City Lead

How has NSS changed because of this pilot? Through the San Antonio program the NSS gained experience with a lighttouch deployment of the curriculum. We learned more about the essential, niceto-have, and inessential features of the program. Time together was beloved by all, for example, while monthly summits were not needed. Volunteers in the San Antonio program felt new permission to explore and interact with their streets. We learned that longer timeframes allow volunteers more time to build confidence in their ability to enact change. The shorter timeframe (five weeks, instead of ten weeks like Boise and Philly) and less time and attention from headquarters meant that not everyone had time to build up the confidence to try out bold experiments. This is something to keep in mind in future iterations of the project: more time means more confidence.

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Soul Searching Experiment Diego and Audrey came up with a temporary crosswalk installation for the street near their school, hoping to put pressure on both the school and the street department to make permanent safety upgrades to the intersection. Diego and Audrey chose a section of heavily trafficked road adjacent to their high school, as the site for their street experiment. They knew from experience that students brave high speed traffic on a daily basis to cross on their way to and from school. To allay this danger they plan to prototype an improved crosswalk using astroturf, real live plants, cones, and a lemonade stand at the end of July. They plan to lobby their school administration for a more permanent improvement by reinstalling the project after the school year begins. Their project will make an existing pedestrian desire line safer and increase awareness amongst drivers of student pedestrians in the area.

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Making clever use of the wide variety of urban forms within the city of San Antonio, each weekly meeting was hosted in a different location which highlighted different street experiences.

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HQ Local Lab What is the Local Lab? A “Local Lab” is a local action research arm of the National Street Service. It is a place to experiment with new forms of culture which carry the potential to change beliefs about what the street is for. Projects within the lab explore how social, cultural, institutional and physical dimensions of the street can be playfully harnessed to: •

Facilitate the social reconstruction of the street, by building and activating values, beliefs and norms.

Influence local government and political leaders to improve the physical and institutional design of the street.

Build an organized, effective social movement for delivering the human-centered street.

Successful Local Lab projects were infused into the National Street Service - some found a home in the curriculum and training materials, while others influenced the practices, norms, culture and theories of action which guided the organization.

Prompts for Experiment Generation •

Identify Moments of Transition — People are more willing to change their habits and beliefs when they are changing other things in their lives, like moving to a new city.

Demonstrate Change 1:1 — Show, don't tell; let people experience something in real time to effectively challenge their beliefs.

Engage the Familiar / Speak the language — Use and subvert the familiar - whether is it advertising, media, or cultural objects to communicate a different set of values.

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Members of the local lab team experiment with a 'VIP Pass' to the street, a precursor to the 'Lifetime Pass' which has become the calling card of the National Street Service


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Idea Development Criteria The Local Lab uses the following qualities to decide which street experiments to develop: •

Provocative The work is a catalyst for dialogue and reflection, deliberately designed to engage people and provoke reflection.

Deep Interventions must be multi-layered and thoughtful. Being deep means always being guided by the core shared values of the street; having a strong opinion; and being action-oriented. Remember that this isn’t just talk, and we’re working with real people and real streets.

Sticky Concept Doesn’t take a guide or a hand-book to understand. You should “get it” within a minute of engaging with the experiment.

Creates an “experience” in the street It is difficult to ask people to step out of their routine. By making a comfortable place on the street, you create a stronger invitation for people to participate.

Has a clear user The experiment has a clear user in mind and a strategy for engaging them, and some experiments pursue focus on vulnerable people in the street.

Tests a hypothesis for changing beliefs about what the street is for The experiment goes beyond meeting immediate needs and provides insights into how to transform beliefs about what the street is for.

Do-able in 1-3 weeks

Fun!

Scalable to other streets, cities and neighborhoods

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“There should be more artists who are policymakers because we don't think as linearly, and you look for solutions and you're not thrown out when something doesn't work you just go back and try something else.� - Elaine Clegg, Boise City Council

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Driver Confessional What it is — We set up two mobile confessional booths for drivers in a parking garage elevator and gas station where drivers could declare their sins and aggressions behind the wheel and commit to more virtuous, empathetic behavior. What we wanted to learn — If people constantly break the rules of the road because they aren’t built for humans, they may feel guilty for doing so. We were hoping to uncover more inhuman rules to inform our work, and test ways to provoke better behavior. What we learned — We learned that people, once they exit their car, don’t think of themselves as drivers. Most confessions were about breaking social codes like not connecting with others in the street (being on the phone, moving too fast and not paying attention to people), but almost no one confessed breaking rules like speed limit.

(above) The Driver Confessional invites responses at a nearby gas station.

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(right) Confessions demonstrate a broad spectrum of what 'poor behavior' looks like on the street.


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Emotional Car Kit What it is — The Emotional Car Kit is a set of small reminders placed on the door, the side mirror, and the rearview mirror of cars that prompts people driving to be courteous and even friendly to the people walking and biking near them. The Kit is paired with an audio reflection for drivers meant to be listened to while driving that provokes reflection on a vehicle’s relationship to street space. What we wanted to learn — Can we equip cars with ways to express their users’ human intentions and emotions? Today we can exclaim with a honk or announce a turn with a blink, but more nuanced or positive gestures are impossible. What if a car could express a patient “after you,” communicate the urgency of a stressed driver, or acknowledge a friend with a wave? What we learned — The Emotional Car Kit was a “sticky” experiment - it flew off the shelf at our City Sharebacks and people immediately “got it” and wanted it. But, the text-based printed pieces can only go so far to remedying the challenges of vehicle design, particularly related to enclosure, vehicle gestures and communication, and sensory deprivation, and more experimentation is needed.

Friendly reminders prompt drivers to act politely in the street.

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Jaywalkers' Bill of Rights What it is — The Jaywalker Bill of Rights is a series of large posters that makes use of the ubiquitous icon of convenience store sign frames and their standard red backing: “thank you for shopping here your business is appreciated.” We copied the visual language of these signs to publish a Bill of Rights for people walking and left space for them to add their own. We created eight posters exploring facets of the Bill of Rights in the context of the Tenderloin Neighborhood, a low-income neighborhood in San Francisco. What we wanted to learn — The Jaywalker Bill of Rights is a project to highlight the needs and desires of people walking in a disinvested, inequitably policed neighborhood. We recognize that jaywalking, although illegal in most places in the US, is a normal response to certain street conditions. Drawing from our learning with the Price Tag the City experiments, in which we found that people like to enforce the rules, we wanted to deploy a new standard of rules more equitable to how people act in the street. We wanted to learn how people responded to permission instead of prohibition for a stigmatized, but common, behavior. What we learned — Although this project only went out into the street briefly, we learned a lot from it. Research for this project brought to light massive disparities in local enforcement of Vision Zero policies, leaving the neighborhoods most vulnerable to traffic violence to be most frequently cited for pedestrian violations that amount to merely stopping to rest or crossing outside of a crosswalk. We also learned that in the Tenderloin people express much more discomfort with the status quo than in other neighborhoods in San Francisco. Residents here have low rates of car ownership, so crashes and injuries from people driving through feel like an imposition rather than a trade-off they choose to make.

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(right) The Jaywalker’s Bill of Rights, part of a series of posters. (above) A Jaywalker’s Bill of Rights poster noting the local imbalance in enforcement against speeding versus walking, at one of the convenience stores that serves as a hub of public life in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood.


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The National Street Service printed and hung a variety of posters highlighting different aspects of how the walking experience is inflected with policy, enforcement, and custom in the Tenderloin.

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Lifetime Pass to the Street What it is — A colorful ticket, emblazoned with the words ‘Lifetime Pass to the Street - The Street is Yours’. This ticket is the calling card of the National Street Service, an invitation to use, enjoy and shape the street in whatever way is most meaningful to a person and their community. The Pass was tested at a morning coffee station to test the language, and in all neighborhoods the National Street Service works in. What we wanted to learn — Develop a symbolic gesture that encapsulates the goals and message of our organization in a concise and meaningful interaction. What we learned — This simple ticket stands as proof that with even with humble materials, it is possible to profoundly impact people’s attitudes. It took several iterations to get the message just right, but doing so made all the difference.

“I’ve been doing this work for 25 years, and I’ve never seen it summed up so neatly as this pass” - Deanna, Boise City Lead The pass is a colorful reminder that the street is yours - to use, to enjoy and to shape to suit the needs of your community.

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Listening Post What it is — Two listening post stations were set up - one in San Francisco’s SOMA district, and one across the bay in Oakland’s Temescal district. The stations provided an opportunity to anyone walking by to step out of the flow of the street, rest, and listen to the words of a local person sharing a story of that street. Signs posted at these locations allowed anyone to call in and hear a story of the street, then respond with their own. What we wanted to learn — Our exploration centered on the theory that people are more open to possibilities on their street when they can empathize with other people’s experiences of the street. We chose to explore how storytelling might highlight that the experience of the street is inequitable - that the street privileges certain people at the expense of others and spark moments of self-reflection and empathy. What we learned — We provided, with minimal resources and effort, a mildly protected place on the street to rest, reflect and connect. Even within the time frame of a few short hours in each location, we witnessed the fabric of the community come into view and grow stronger through the simple act of sharing stories on the street. We came to appreciate that storytelling is an exchange, and listening to stories is a welcome gift. The Listening Posts were resonant and well-used, so we continued the Listening Post concept in Boise and Philadelphia.

A passerby takes a moment to listen to a moving story of her local community.

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Pavement graphics compare the relative value of one square foot of parking space, to one square foot of commercial space

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Pricetag the city What it is — In four neighborhoods in San Francisco, we installed temporary price tags and pavement graphics to illuminate the hidden values of the street. Some values were expressed in monetary terms - such as the cost to maintain a parking space, and the economic benefit of a bike rack to local businesses. Some values focused on alternative uses of space - such as how many vegetables could be grown in the surface area of a parking space. Some values focused on human needs like comfort - such as the “Butt Counter”, which quantified the number of visitors to a park bench. What we wanted to learn — Our exploration centered on the belief that streets should express our shared values as a society; and that by surfacing the hidden values of the street, we might spark a conversation around better ways to allocate the resource of the street itself, and the resources we expend to create and maintain it. What we learned — Through discussion of the values and potential of alternative uses of street space, it is possible to unlock support to redesign the street to focus more on people, and less on vehicles. But, while people are supportive of the concept of changing the rules to better reflect our values, people are also passionate about enforcing the existing rules of the street especially business owners who act as unofficial stewards of the street.

A price tag demonstrates the value of a simple bike rack to local businesses.

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Streets! App What it is — The Streets! App for iPhone provides guidance and tools to help you see your street in a different light, and learn how to advocate to make it safer and more livable. It offers digital versions of all of our Soul Searching training exercises. What we wanted to learn — The app is an attempt to scale the National Street Service - to offer the training program to a broader audience while placing less time and financial burden on headquarters to facilitate formal city programs. We hope to understand if open-sourcing our training materials is sufficient to allow people to conduct self-directed street transformation. What we learned — Translating the training content to work without the guidance of a city lead took some effort - but informs how we can make our training more flexible in the future to accommodate different modes of engagement with our tools and programs.

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Streets! for iPhone offers a complete training kit for aspiring street influencers.

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A complete reading of the Streets to Streets game allows you to articulate your attitudes and aspirations towards your local streets.

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Streets to Streets Game What it is — Streets to Streets is a card game intended to provoke reflection about attitudes and aspirations on the street. Players select a suit of cards with a question like, “what type of rules do you feel you can defy in the street?” and select from five photographic cards, numbered one to five depicting different scenes related to the question. The suits are arranged in four levels, with the bottom half exploring feelings and behaviors on the street, and the top half exploring aspirations for form, function, and value on the street. Players move from deep feelings to higher aspirations, exploring their responses to the card prompts. At the end, the dealer presents the player with a “reading” of their street persona.

'What do you value most in your street?'

What we wanted to learn — This game is a diagnostic tool to understand typical belief systems of people about the street. The numbers on the cards generally range from status quo mindset (low cards) to deeply human-centered belief system (high). By logging the responses of numerous game-players, we hope to build a database to learn about typical relationships between deep feelings and higher aspirations about the street. What we learned — When playing the game with only the Values cards, we learned that every place seemed to have a zeitgeist and many people picked the same card in a city. People were disarmed by the presentation of a “game” rather than a survey and were more than happy to play. Many felt the question itself provoked a shift in mindset - Asking the question was as powerful as the answer. The full game also proved to be extremely engaging and fun for volunteers, although people’s readings have not been deployed at scale. The highest values suit became a ‘calling card’ for the National Street Service in meetings to demonstrate our commitment to asking questions, exploring shared values, and bringing playfulness to this important work.

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The gold cards provoke a discussion of the highest human values of the street.


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Stop N' Wave What it is — The stop sign is a ubiquitous presence on streets across the country, part of the explicit rules of the street. These explicit rules are meant to enforce safety, a universal value on the street, but the lack of rules related to other universal values like connection, can result in an overall dehumanizing experience. The “Stop N' Wave” encourages drivers to be present as people first, and greet people while they are stopped at a stop sign. Stop N' Wave was developed by Eve, one of the Philadelphia City Leads, executed first by Casey, one of the Boise City Leads, and ultimately deployed in San Francisco, Boise, and Philadelphia. What we wanted to learn — Our goal with this tool was to reach people while they are driving, a difficult audience to connect with. We wanted to learn how willing people are to follow a new, more sociable rule while they are driving. What we learned — The experiment deployed in San Francisco stayed up for many weeks and we observed several drivers to stop, laugh, and follow the N' Wave rule.

“The most important thing we can do is wave at everyone and ask them to join us [in waving]. At first I thought this was a super weird idea. This week I was working on the streets. I waved at everyone, and everyone waved back and it was wonderful.” - Brett, Boise Volunteer

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Eve brings the Stop N' Wave to Philadelphia


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The first Stop N' Wave appears in San Francisco's SOMA District

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Summer Experiment Fund What it is — The experiment fund takes the form of a grants program, offering small grants of between $5 and $500 for people to build new street experiments that explore how to make local streets better on behalf of their communities. Grants were made available to anyone who has completed the Soul Searching curriculum. What we wanted to learn — We observed momentum among volunteers in the formal city programs to iterate their individual experiments and continue doing work to make streets better for their communities. The experiment fund is one idea being prototyped for accommodating longerterm engagement, maintaining our relationships with volunteers and continuing our commitment to lasting change in the cities we are invited to work in.

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Reflections on the Organization Ambiguity fostered flexibility and resiliency

Building an “emergent” organization made the NSS’s rapid growth resilient to challenges, and stronger in the end. Although some volunteers were initially frustrated by a lack of clarity, the NSS’s flexibility in its mandate, messaging, and program structure meant that it could truly adapt based on criticism or needs in the cities.

The NSS fills a unique gap in the civic sector - bringing new people into the movement for human-centered streets

The civic sector has plenty of resources trained on specific issues, but no mandate to awaken passive supporters for human-centered streets, especially at the citywide scale. The National Street service fills a unique void by working city-wide to bring new people into the movement for human-centered streets.

The National Street Service creates awareness around the institutions and planning mechanisms that are responsible for the public realm and tools to engage in the street.

“A lot gets lost between agencies. For example - Ada County Highway District can’t build multi-use paths, because they can’t purchase land to do that. That would be a great solution for biking or pedestrians. They can’t find the best solution, because there’s a limit on what they can do.” - Kellie, Boise

When working in the public realm, we are having a tangible impact on real people’s lived experience in cities. Therefore we must always act with care to ensure that the communities that we work with are determining the fundamental goals of our efforts within their space.

Pilots and iterative design are riskier in the public realm

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If learning is the goal of an engagement, scaling an effort may be equally valuable by scaling “in-place” by deepening commitments with partners, or by scaling to new cities with the purpose of learning something new. The NSS should go to the cities where we are both wanted and needed.

Scaling the organization may mean scaling in place, or scaling to new places

Discussions of the purpose, function and design of streets is left to a small group of professionals and niche interest groups to wage a battle focused on targeted interests (parking vs. bikes, transit vs. road investment), leaving the needs and values of the broader community largely ignored and unrepresented. The National Street Service helps to bridge the gaps between these interest groups and the broader community to give a more complete picture of the demands that communities make of their streets.

Bringing together diverse teams is critical to the work.

Mindset change, and changes to the physical infrastructure of the street are both meaningful goals to pursue. Both operate on a long time scale, and thus require a sustained commitment in the cities we enter. We have had success in building momentum in Philadelphia and Boise, but the limitations of operating these cities as pilot projects is now clear - harnessing that momentum requires a sustained and patient commitment to continue our efforts and support in each city. We have intended to be as transparent as possible about our time-limited pilot process from the beginning, but it is still hard to build momentum for change without a runway to do so.

Momentum for change requires a runway to facilitate a sustained effort and commitment to the cities we enter

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Reflections on Interventions Come prepared with talking points

Be prepared with concise answers which explain the purpose of your intervention, and questions which capture the kind of feedback you would like to gather from the local community.

Match the finish and permanence of the intervention to the strength of the opinion

Use high-quality production value and finish for strong opinions, but lower-fidelity materials to invite conversation on topics, places, or issues. Most projects should be temporary - if the local reaction is poor the intervention must be respectfully and swiftly removed. It is not the job of a volunteer to install permanent fixtures, but rather to demonstrate a need, and then work with local authorities to make change.

Foster creativity with inspiring examples and small budgets

Help overcome the intimidation of being asked to do something 'creative' by offering examples, ideas and prompts to set the bar for expectations and possibilities. Keeping budgets small forces people to be creative, and ensures that the creative process is low-stakes - if it doesn’t work, there is scope to try other ideas.

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Discomfort is necessary to challenge personally held beliefs about the street. Conducting interventions in the street will naturally feel uncomfortable for participants and passers by. Making yourself vulnerable is critical to relating to others and exploring new possibilities. Discomfort is necessary, leaning in to the unease is integral to challenging one’s own assumptions, proclivities, and norms. At the same time, structural racism, ableism, classism, transphobia, and other biases mean that not everyone may share the same ability to “push past” discomfort. Ensure participants feel they have permission to conduct actions in the street.

Push past the discomfort of breaking the social norms of the street - but take active steps to be aware of privilege

Always accompany new experiences with ambassadors to ask and answer questions, model new behaviors, and hand-hold participants. In addition to creating a more comfortable experience for the participant, you will gain valuable insights into what works and what doesn’t about your experience or program.

Make experiments easy to understand and get involved in

The National Street Service is ultimately funded by Ford, a company with a long history of impact on our streets. If work is supported by a private company, it is critically important to be radically candid about that fact, and demonstrate that this work is driven by more than just public relations. But even if it’s just you as an individual, be honest with the street about what you care about and why you’re out there trying to make change.

Be radically candid, and own up to your subversiveness

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Metrics for Organizational Success Momentum

A Healthy Organizational Structure

A Consistent, Legible Story

Continued Commitment to Learning

Cities, nonprofits and people are excited to engage with the National Street Service

A secure source of funding

A clear plan of action to continue working towards our goals

A self-sustaining organization

Sustainable pacing that works at a comfortable speed for headquarters, partners and volunteers

Energy and inpiration maintained throughout the organization

Our team reflects the communities we are working with

A sticky, resonant brand identity carried through strong stories, images, and media that conveys our values

Every National Street Service experience and touchpoint makes people think differently about what streets are for

Explore effectiveness of tactics to provoke mindset change, and influence the lived experience of the street

Deepen our understanding of the human values of the street

Enrich our understanding of local priorities to ensure that our impact matches the needs of the communities we work with

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Metrics for City Success •

Leaves partners energized, not drained

The work we do is “blue ocean” in that no one else is doing it - assures we’re not stepping on toes, not threatening people, always including people

Public debate expands around what streets can be for

Reach a tipping point in common culture »»

Support for human-centered streets achieves diverse cohort of 3.5% of a certain population

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More than NIMBY’s at the public meetings

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Increase in public life volumes - people on the street

Teams on the ground have what they need to train and inspire other people

Number of people asking to ‘join’ after program ends

Evidence of the work continuing

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NSS seen as positive addition to ongoing efforts in these cities

Broader sense of possibilities for what the street can be in public debate

Continuity + a self-perpetuating movement


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Recommendations for future work

Based on their external assessment, Gehl Institute shared the following recommendations for the NSS.

Setting a clear agenda An agenda is an important organizing factor giving volunteers and interested parties something to rally around and put their energy towards. A clear agenda also allows for the creation of clear goals, benchmarks and indicators of success.

Defining audiences and designing audience-specific program curriculum

Setting context-specific goals Recognizing that the each city is unique and at a different stage of values and belief adoption can make for more nuanced and targeted goals that are context specific, measurable and speak to the unique challenges and opportunities of each city.

Defining a target audience for each program component would benefit its efficacy and the overall impact.

Building a knowledge of place Reflecting on the expectations of volunteers, opportunities for engagement and the possibilities for change in selected cities, would enable more effective engagement.

05 Slowing down

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NSS in the Press New York Times, by Allison Arieff https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/03/opinion/lets-reconnect-with-our-streets.html

“If well-funded initiatives like the street service were adopted everywhere — and the private sector was a partner, not the decider, it could radically change the way streets are designed and built.” “A commitment to safer streets is a commitment to the public good; it puts the needs of the collective above the convenience of the individual. ...It starts with shifting mindt-sets, and that’s where the N.S.S. comes in.” “Of course, we’ll have to keep our eyes peeled for the auto company equivalent of greenwashing. Dare I call it “carwashing”?”

Boise Weekly https://www.boiseweekly.com/boise/rethinking-the-roadboise-public-lands-tour-brings-more-than-wheels-to-boisestreets/Content?oid=11245554

“[The Boise Public Lands Tour was] a laboratory for reimagining streets as public spaces owned by—and used for the pleasure of—all.”

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Oakland Press, Pontiac http://www.theoaklandpress.com/general-news/20180501/ pontiac-chosen-for-conceptual-design-thinking-national-street-service-program

“Jim Ross, co-director [of Pontiac Holonomy Incubator] and Pontiac native said. ‘We’ll be successful when we’re dancing on the sidewalk and not a minute before.’” “‘It starts with observation and then we tackle the problems,’ Monica Williams, co-director of the incubator said. ‘Our problem is that we have a community that is disconnected from its downtown, a loop around the city that is as anti-human as possible.’”

Hidden City Philadelphia https://hiddencityphila.org/2018/06/taking-history-to-the-streets-with-preservation-activism/

“With help from graphic designers at the National Street Service and artists at Tiny-WPA, it took me less than one day to fabricate a brand new historical marker.”

San Francisco, Mission Local https://missionlocal.org/2017/05/listening-post-invites-you-to-hear-stories-of-the-streets-on-16th/

“The stories you’ll hear don’t all deal directly with infrastructure. But they invite a passerby rushing from one block to the next to take a moment to hear how others experience the street.”

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Summer Grants Debrief We instituted the Summer Grants Program to provide an avenue for engaged National Street Service volunteers to continue to do great work in their local communities by building better streets in creative, meaningful, locally relevant ways. Our amazing volunteers have come through on this promise with an inspiring range of projects. Coming fresh from the National Street Service Soul Searching training and community engagement, our volunteers had a chance to further bring their own ambitious ideas to life. Each project, in its own unique way, altered the tangible experience of the street, and invited members of the community to comprehend the possibilities of how much better streets can be. We believe that this program has been a huge success in accommodating longer-term engagement, maintaining our relationships with volunteers and continuing our commitment to lasting change in the cities we are invited to work in. With the creativity and passion demonstrated in applying even a small project budget, this work shows the full potential of our volunteers to continue to act as change agents within their cities and bring their ideas into fruition. Artists collaborate on a new mural, under the lead of Jesse Bateman, adding life and vibrancy to a street in Boise’s Central Rim neighborhood. Photo credit: Diane Ronayne/TVAA

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Street Pride and Humble Beginnings BRIA N C I R S K E Y - P H I L A DE LP HI A , PA

When the Summer Grants Program was announced, Brian jumped at the opportunity to continue the work he began during his time with the National Street Service. In a historic city, already dotted with historic markers, Brian created and hung three historic markers to honor the recent local history of his neighborhood street. His signs catalogued inspirational tales of businesses who, from humble beginnings, got their start to become fixtures of their local communities. With help from the Summer Grants fund, and production support from Public Workshop, Brian created eight more signs, each sharing the story of a local business. From the start, the project was intended to spark discussion of what street pride means to the community; this discussion has been captured via social media (check out his Instagram here: @baltimore_ave_street_pride). Since beginning the project, messages of support have poured in from the community –

“I think it’s very cool that your project is highlighting super-local history and adding context to the sights and places we pass every day.” “Look at how Philadelphia, Pennsylvania acknowledges the contributions of Malian immigrants. #awesome” The local businesses featured have also shared their appreciation on social media, and there is interest in continuing the project for even more businesses –

“organizations have followed us on Instagram and asked about collaborating in the future.”

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Brian stands with the 8 signs he created with the assistance of Public Workshop. Each sign shares a inspiring piece of local history, documenting a business which has grown from humble beginnings to become a fixture of the local community on Baltimore Avenue. Photo Credit: Brian Cirskey


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Freemont Murals D EBOR AH M U L LNE R - BO I S E , I D

Deborah emerged from the National Street Service program with an ambitious project in mind – to make her neighborhood more livable and more connected as a community, by making improvements to a street which has long been a source of tension between local business owners and people who live in the neighborhood. “Because of the way these buildings were built, there are no windows in the back side - so people come in at night, and throw their garbage here.”

Deborah shares the story of how she organized the murals, in front of a freshly completed mural by local artist Anne Moore.

The street was beautified with the addition of five murals, with the help of five local artists. Four from the Treasure Valley Artists Alliance contributed under the lead of Jesse Bateman, and one local artist from the neighborhood, Anne Moore. The result is the transformation of an uninviting alleyway into a space with more life. “The best way to measure the impact of the murals is to look at how many conversations about the murals are taking place in our neighborhood: neighbors, business owners and artists talk with each other, teenagers that pass by stop, look at the murals, and talk with each other. I think that it is a step in the right direction to make this neighborhood more livable and more connected with the cool businesses that we have around here.” Deborah’s efforts have not gone unnoticed, nor unappreciated by the local community. Feedback from the neighborhood demonstrates that there is broad support for further street improvements –

“During fund-raising I had the opportunity to talk with many residents, and many appreciate our effort very much. They would love to see more art in other places of our neighborhood. Some residents are also talking about street art to make some of our streets safer for pedestrians and bikers.”

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Street Soul 2018 Tour N IC OL AS R I VAR D - TE X A S & A R K A NSAS

Nicolas, owner of Participation Studio TX, and the city lead from our San Antonio pilot was brimming with creative ideas to build support for better streets in his home state of Texas. When he came to us seeking a grant to use his ice cream truck / mobile office / sleeper van to conduct a Street Soul Tour, we were excited to see what he would do to bring the National Street Service to even more places. While the initial idea was to connect two of the pilot cities, San Antonio and Philadelphia, things did not exactly go to plan. “Our cross country voyage hit an early roadblock after the stepvan’s motor failed with a jarring screech twenty miles west of Jackson, Mississippi.” Following this hiccup, with a repaired van ready and waiting, Nicolas embarked on an amended itinerary which brought him to four cities. Tackling so many cities in a short space of time was a bold choice, and revealed a lot of insights of interest when learning how to engage in new cities.

1. National Street Service Town Square Popup, Hamburg, AR “Our most spontaneous and least successful event. We pulled off the highway on a whim and setup for an hour in an almost deserted downtown. Not a single pedestrian walked by - only one vehicle paused to ask us what we were doing through a rolled down window.”

2. Marilla Sidewalk Accessibility Audit - Dallas, TX “Organized by BC Workshop for AARP, this event featured a walking tour of a street connecting the public library and the farmer’s market. The City of Dallas is considering pedestrianizing this passage to encourage foot traffic. Our group walked the length of the connection, cataloging existing barriers to pedestrians with a set of sidewalk stencils developed by BC.”

3. National Street Service Sidewalk Popup, Waxahachie, TX “We invaded a stretch of sidewalk near the main square of a popular weekend destination small town along our route home. Ironically, there was a Chevy truck rally happening downtown that day, and our humancentered-streets message fell mostly on deaf ears. The historic downtown

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Residents of San Antonio, TX discuss the future of a busy downtown street which will receive major improvements over the next few years at a parklet organized by Participation Studio and Centro San Antonio. Photo Credit: Participation Studio TX


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was built for pedestrians, and plenty of people were about on foot. However, most passersby were uninterested in discussing streets.”

Residents of Marilla, TX highlight accessibility issues along a stretch of sidewalk between a popular farmer’s market and public library, in a walking tour organized by BC workshop for AARP. The City of Dallas is considering pedestrianizing this passage to encourage foot traffic. Photo Credit: Participation Studio TX

4. Centro Siclovía Parklet - San Antonio, TX “In collaboration with the downtown business improvement district, Centro San Antonio, we developed a parklet/sidewalk cafe installation for San Antonio’s biannual Siclovía. The route, on a major North-South corridor into downtown, is slated for major streetscape improvements in the coming years. The parklet provided an opportunity to talk about the future of the corridor, what makes a street pedestrian friendly, and Centro’s ongoing advocacy initiatives.” All of these events reflect well on the National Street Service’s values of experimentation and community engagement, and there is much to be learned from this tour – both from where it succeeded, and what could be improved the next time around. First of all, towns lacking pedestrian activity are not suitable for the popup format; something else might prove more successful – “A street ranger roving town to seek out conversations, enter businesses, and taking the conversation to people could prove more effective.” Secondly, connecting with existing advocacy partners and events can strengthen the outcomes for both parties – “Investing time in a detailed itinerary of partner events ahead of the journey is critical. Piggy-backing on existing programming proved an effective way to avoid undue effort planning events from scratch and maximize ROI. We realized the importance of buffer time between arrival and setup to and explore new places, test possible locations and setups, and build relationships with collaborators.” Finally, a better equipped touring vehicle and more collaborators would free up more time for the important work of connecting with locals – “Constantly reorganizing the Stepvan as a bedroom, office, kitchen, or travel vehicle ate up considerable time and energy. A modern vehicle with a more fully furnished interior and modern amenities would make for a more successful tour. A larger group would minimize time behind the wheel and allow for more well-defined roles throughout the trip.”

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Strip-mall Park(ing) into Neighborhood Places D EAN N A S M I T H, SA R A H TAY LO R , NI N A SC HAEF F ER , AL EX AN D R A M O NJA R A ND M I K E S TE FAN C I C - BO I SE, I D

From the Boise National Street Service training, a team of freshly minted street rangers continued pushing toward their shared purpose of making Boise’s streets into neighborhood ‘places’. The team identified two strip mall parking lots which had the potential to be re-imagined as community gathering places. “Both are located along very busy, people-unfriendly corridors - State Street and Vista Ave, which are barriers to neighbors walking to these businesses. As old strip-malls, they do not front the street but sit back behind a parking lot, making it less inviting.” As part of a broader set of parklets created for PARK(ing) day in Boise (coordinated by Idaho Smart Growth), the National Street Service grant assisted the team to set up parklets within the two strip malls which opened up the parking lot to people. The parklets featured a range of fun activities and attractions, including live musicians, hula hoops, pet rock painting, corn hole and a giant chess set. Each parklet drew a crowd of curious neighbors of all ages. The aim of these efforts is to demonstrate that changing the way that parking is used on busy streets can make Boise’s streets more appealing places for people to linger and enjoy, which is of benefit to local businesses.

“If we are correct we will work with the businesses and property owners to develop permanent outdoor places at these two strip-malls along these two busy corridors.”

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Residents of Boise’s Collister Neighborhood enjoy the parklet’s activities, games and music. Photo credit: Idaho Smart Growth


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Listen & Learn: Street Talk N ATI O N AL S T R EE T S E RV I C E YO U TH TE AM - N O R T H P HI L ADELP HI A , PA

The Summer Grants program has allowed the work of the Youth Team in North Philadelphia to continue to explore how youth of color can support and advocate for their communities generationally. This area of Philadelphia within the 19133 zip code is one of the most traumatized communities within the city, so sharing the voices of those who live there is incredibly important -

“We’re learning from what we see and what we hear from older people in the nation. I want to make the streets better for everyone.” During the ten week training program, the team designed and implemented their own ideas, creating a Dream Wall, which connected people of all generations to share their childhood hopes and dreams. They also created a Community Listening Box as an outlet for members of their community to share their hopes for the future. The Community Listening Box, which collected messages of hope from across the community. Some of the notes collected were shared at a street exhibition to invite further community feedback and discussion. Photo Credit: Ken McFarlane

With community feedback in-hand from the Community Listening Box, the youth team staged an exhibition in their local neighborhood, displaying enlarged versions of some of the notes from the Listening Box -

“We would display them on Huntingdon Street as a street exhibit for neighbors to see what other community members are saying. Our goal is to foster more communication/discussion around neighborhood needs and wants versus what is readily accessible to community members.”

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WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? THE STREET IS YOURS.

Profile for National Street Service

Field Guide to the National Street Service, 2nd Edition  

Field Guide to the National Street Service, 2nd Edition  

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