Slides from Event Presentation: Text Version
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Boys Totem Town
A Community Dialogue and Deliberation Event
1:00-1:30: Food and Fun!
1:30-2:00: Information & Video
2:00-3:00: Talking Circles & 15 min. break
3:00-4:00: valuation Activities and Departure!
Today we’ll cover
- - Who am I? What are my intentions? How did this event come to be?
- What is the purpose of this event?
- Some context and information around Boys Totem Town
- Our group activities today
- Our group values
David Valentine: Who Am I?
ASTC Fellowship: Dialogue and Deliberation
Dialogue & Deliberation is a set of approaches that can help community members identify or refine priorities and make decisions about important issues.
Dialogue allows people to share their perspectives on a topic, and deliberation provides an opportunity to examine options and make actionable decisions. These techniques are effective when applied to a wide range of topics that impact communities, including issues related to science and technology.
Dialogue & Deliberation on science-related topics takes an expansive view to examine societal impacts, community values, and public policy decisions that can inform—and be informed by— science.
Why did I choose Boys Totem Town as my event?
- - So many folks have differing ideas about the future of the site
- So many of those ideas are rooted in important social and environmental issues
- I was hearing from some stakeholders, but not all of them
- A lot of the conversation felt like a zero sum game
- It seemed like a good opportunity to work on the Community First Engagement approach
Community First Engagement
My philosophy is that all engagement should grow out of expressed community desires, or be in service to assessing those desires. I saw, in discussion around the future of Boys Totem Town, a lack of clear expressed desires from a host of community members who would be and have been impacted by the site. Rather, I saw lot of people talking about what was best for others.
How can any one decision (or set of decisions) be in the right if it isn’t informed by a diverse set of community voices and perspectives, especially folks who are directly impacted?
It is never my job to enter into a situation with a pre-determined outcome or goal. My job is to get myself out of the way and listen to what desires are, then use my resources, connections, and skills to try and meet those needs.
How Do Museums Often Engage?
- - Museums design programs and projects internally and bring communities in to serve a predetermined role.
- Little to no engagement occurs in ideation, and communities offer advisement and contribution.
- - Museums are actively thinking about how they can benefit from the engagement.
- Benefits include funding, additions to collections and programs, access to resources, and clout.
- Community benefit is often less tangible or identifiable.
“We’re helping you”
- - Museums see themselves as the experts in art, history, STEM and more.
- They see community members as the lucky beneficiaries of their experience and resources, and think about what they can “allow” communities access to.
How Engagement SHOULD Start: Presence And Invitation
Show up in the community without motives. Invite the community to show up in your spaces.
What are communities expressing? What are commonalities? Where is there opportunity?
Water the seeds you plant, so they can grow.
Your job should be to highlight good work that is being done by others and work with the experts who have put time in. De-center yourself.
What Is The Purpose Of This Event
We Will Use Dialogue and Deliberation To Create A Report!
- A report was conducted by the 106 Group a couple of years ago. This report included a property history, an architectural and cultural landscape assessment, and an archaeological assessment.
- This report, entirely separate from that one, will assess community perspectives and desires, and be informed by the process of Dialogue and Deliberation.
- - The report will be available to community members, city councilmembers, county commissioners, and state representatives.
Points of Clarity:
- - The decision around BTT’s future will not be made today! Our goal is to create more context for the decision making process.
- - The county are the decision makers, and this is not a county event. There are stakeholders at the city and state level who have expressed interest in this report, and their voices will be important when decisions are being made. We also hope that future county commissioners will find value in this as well.
- - The county has stated that they are not yet ready to make this decision. They have a few projects that are ahead of Boys Totem Town in the queue.
Enough Context, Already!
What about Boys Totem Town?
What is Boys Totem Town?
This is a 72 acre site in Ramsey County. While 10 acres or less is developed, the majority of it is an undisturbed oak savanna. Boys Totem Town was previously used for over 100 years as a county-owned juvenile detention center, and the continuing conversations around race and detention that impact the Twin Cities have enormous implications for communities of color. It is also in close proximity to Dakota burial mounds and the historic Kaposia Village, carrying much significance for Indigenous communities. While the county still owns this property, there is much public discourse around how the land should be used moving forward, and the county says that they want to be responsive to community needs and equitable solutions.
Boys Totem Town PERTINENT ISSUES:
- benefits of natural areas to people -- especially children, such as mental health, physical health, cognitive improvements, etc.
- various habitats that exist on the site, such as wetlands, ponds, vernal ponds, oak savanna, etc.
- ecological importance of these habitats and the type of plants, mammals, birds and amphibians that call it home and depend on it for their existence.
Race, Culture, and History
- pre-colonial and contemporary Indigenous significance of the site
- history of racial trauma and incarceration on the site
- post-colonial historical importance of the site
- economic and community-based benefits and costs associated with it being used as a commercial space, an open space, or something else.
Boys Totem Town (some) POSSIBLE FUTURES:
- Remain an open space, public park
- Commercial development
- Affordable housing
- Historic preservation and interpretation.
- Nature center
- Residential Environmental Learning Center (ELC)
- Community Center
- Community Gardens & Farmers Market
- Racial Justice Healing Center
- Theater Center
- Reopen for Juvenile Detention
Boys Totem Town
How Much Development Is Possible
What Are We Doing Today?
Info & Video
After this slideshow, we’ll watch a short video
Community Talking Circles
We’ll spend some time in circle together, taking turns reflecting on the video and our feelings and histories regarding BTT.
Activities for Community
We’ll spend some time engaging in activities together to try and accurately portray what kind of future people are dreaming up for BTT
Our Values Today
Caring and Togetherness
- - We are all neighbors
- “Winning” in this situation does not necessitate other people losing
- Communication is talking AND listening
- Everyone has something to offer
- Everyone has something to learn
Make Space For Everyone’s Voices
- - If you usually speak often and at length, practice taking up less space
- If you find yourself being quiet more often, or having your voice silenced, we want to hear from you
Be Conscious of Context
- - Tell your own story, try to speak from your own experience and not for others
- Remember and hold space for all of the ways that people have been impacted by the history of the site
- Respect other people’s lived experiences
Be Comfortable With Discomfort
- You won’t agree with everyone
- The point is for each of you to be heard in some way or another
Collaborate and Cooperate
- Do activities together! Don’t be afraid to work together on ideas.
- Get to know each other! This could be the first of many connections.
- Have fun!