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Understanding Decision-Maker Responses to a Collaborative, Transportation-Focused Photovoice Project

Authors: Cara DiEnno*, University of Denver, Lauren Collins, University of Montana, Corey Martz, University of Denver
Topics: Urban and Regional Planning, Transportation Geography, Qualitative Research
Keywords: Photovoice, Public Engagement, Urban Planning, Community Engagement, Visual Methods
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Photovoice is a visual research methodology that works to facilitate social change and empower participants through the use of photographs. However, the impact on decision-makers who are exposed to photovoice exhibits and participant stories is rarely studied. This paper examines the Boulevard Photovoice Project, which was a partnership between several city government offices, transportation advocacy organizations, and a local university. The project engaged 17 city residents representing 11 neighborhoods along the Boulevard to photograph and document what makes them feel safe and unsafe traveling in their community. A mixed methods analysis was undertaken to explore and assess how attendees at two public exhibits of the participant photographs -- including residents, decision-makers, and collaborating organizations -- responded to the images, narratives, and findings from a photovoice project. Results show that exhibit attendees’ awareness and concern for traffic safety issues increased after viewing the exhibit. A majority of attendees also felt more aware of, engaged, and connected to the community and believed they had specific ideas to address participant-identified concerns. Collaborating organizations articulated three primary themes about the impacts they experienced: (i) receiving a sustained value from the project, (ii) the ability to understand the lived experiences of those most affected, and (iii) the benefits of diverse collaborating organizations, which each uniquely contributed to the success of the project. Last, decision-makers identified photovoice as a thick-engagement process, leveraging the power of stories as well as a reciprocal process that goes beyond data collection, sparking action and engagement between city government and residents.

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