Author: Michael Arnold Mages
This paper will detail the design and development of a series of 9 community conversation events discussing 3 different issues, that were designed and conducted by the author, in cooperation with the Pittsburgh public television channel WQED. These events centered on the topics of Guns, Poverty, and Equity/Opportunity each in turn. Each topic encompassed preliminary research, planning conversations with community stakeholders, public conversations regarding the matter of concern, and televised conversations with experts and a studio audience. This paper will discuss the underlying structural design of those conversations in relation to Björgvinsson’s (infrastructuring) participatory design practices. The underlying claim of the argument presented is that a designer convening a network of stakeholders to design and conduct a community conversation is working towards outcomes at several levels: the level of the stakeholder network, the level of the individual participants’ experience, and the level of infrastructuring within the broader community. The paper will take up each of these levels of interaction through the lens of Gastil, Knobloch and Kelley’s (2012) evaluation of participatory processes.