Community engagement through photovoice: understanding community strengths and concerns in the face of urban change

Authors: Cara DiEnno, University of Denver, Center for Community Engagement to advance Scholarship and Learning, Lauren Collins, University of Denver, Center for Community Engagement to advance Scholarship and Learning, Mimiko Watanabe, University of Denver, Center for Community Engagement to advance Scholarship and Learning, Corey Martz*, University of Denver, Center for Community Engagement to advance Scholarship and Learning
Topics: Urban and Regional Planning, Urban Geography, Qualitative Research
Keywords: photovoice, community engagement, urban change, transportation, construction
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Lincoln 2, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Urban change is a common phenomenon in cities across the United States where rising populations and reinvestment in core neighborhoods often reverberate with traffic congestion and capital construction that directly impact the lives of residents. In the face of urban change, how can local governments meaningfully engage residents to not only voice their excitement and worries, but also influence actions that address the changes which directly impact their daily lives? One approach is photovoice, a process that combines photography, documentary, and action, where residents reflect upon and record community strengths and concerns, document their relevant lived experience, and promote dialogue in a forum that reaches decision-makers. Here, we present two photovoice projects that we facilitated as the university partner in a collaboration with city-government and community-based organizations to engage Denver residents in sharing knowledge about issues in their communities. In the first project, adult residents living along one of Denver's most dangerous arterial streets documented where they feel safe and unsafe. In the second project, youth residents living in a neighborhood experiencing extensive capital construction projects addressed the following question, "What makes you excited and worried about the construction in your neighborhood?" In both photovoice projects, participants not only identified salient issues related to transportation and construction through their photographs and narratives, but they contextualized these issues within broader processes of urban change occurring in their communities. Moreover, photovoice participants exhibited their work in community and government forums to influence action, both from their fellow community members and city decision-makers.

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