Mapping the sustainment of a Participatory Design project through a Feminist Social Reproduction approach.
This work draws on my personal experience leading the ongoing Participatory Design (PD) project Peatoniños, which seeks to respond to the uneven distribution of public open spaces for play in Mexico City. It outlines the project’s PD process for sustaining a series of playstreets in different marginalized colonias populares (precarious and low-income neighbourhoods) of Mexico City for over 3 years. This is done through a mapping exercise that identifies, for each playstreet, the more visible activities involved in their production, as well as those more invisible ones involved in their everyday reproduction—such as caring, supporting and maintaining and so on that are often taken for granted or devalued. Feminist activists and scholars referred to these everyday activities as social reproduction and consider them and their replenishment essential to society. Thus, this mapping exercise introduces a Feminist Social Reproduction lens as a distinctive reassembling tool to look at what is essential to sustain PD projects over time. This approach on the one hand, allow us to reveal the actual sources of sustainment within PD processes; and on the other hand, it also serves PD to bring specific and situated actions to replenish everyday activities of social reproduction—in this case, within a context of marginalization and precariousness.
participatory design; mapping; everyday activities; social reproduction
Brenda Vértiz is a Mexican design practitioner and a doctoral student at Aalto University, school of Arts, Design and Architecture. In the last decade, her areas of research and design practice have revolved around exploring the possibilities and limits of participatory design practices and advancing creative explorations on urban transformation and public imagination. In the past four years, she worked as a public servant in Mexico City’s government with women and children living in colonias populares (peripheral, working class, low-income neighbourhoods) creating alternative tactics and strategies for the re-appropriation of public –but contested– city spaces. Currently her doctoral practice-based research focuses on spatial justice, feminist social reproduction and class-conscious approaches to design.