Candy Chang is a public installation artist, designer, and urban planner who likes to make cities more comfortable for people. She's also a 2011 TED Fellow and will be at the mythic conference this week to talk about I Wish This Was, her endearingly low-tech community engagement project.
Chang believes that public space can better serve the people who live, work, and play in them. Cities like New Orleans, where she lives, are filled with abandoned buildings, empty storefronts, vacant lots, and people who need things, but are devoid of the most basic necessities like grocery stores. So Chang came up with the project, ideal for its super low barrier of entry, to allow her fellow citizens to offer their ideas. The responses, which run the gamut from Disneyland to a bike rack, heaven to an art supply store, reflect, says Chang,"the hopes, dreams, and colorful imaginations of different neighborhoods."
Her recent selection as an Urban Innovation Challenge Fellow by Tulane University is enabling Chang to take I Wish This Was digital; look for Neighborland, which will, she explains, "help residents and community leaders self-organize over shared goals, whether that be the desire for a local grocery store, bike lanes, more trees, less blight, a cafe with WiFi, a taco stand, a recreation center, and beyond."