I’m working on the design of a ‘Dereliction Walk’ in New York: it’s a group activity that explores ideas of innovation, failure, and the mechanisms of community driven change. You may have seen that much of my more recent work has involved ‘guided, reflective, journeys’, like ‘The Trust Sketchbook’, so it’s a bit of a progression to take one of these into the real world! The idea is to explore spaces that have fallen derelict, been abandoned, but then transformed through social movements and civil dissent. As we walk through these spaces, we will also consider how parts of our own Organisations have fallen derelict, with broken windows, and will need to be transformed. And we will consider how we build the social movements to drive that transformation. Below is my first sketch of the area that we will explore.
I’m sure the eagle eyed will realise that not all of these spaces have been derelict: the Stonewall Inn, for example, home of the gay rights movement in the US, never fell derelict, but the social movement that has led us to (somewhat) greater equality in society was born there. So how could i not include it? The Highline, by contrast, found beauty in dereliction (i’ve written widely about this before), and was saved by rule breaking urban exploration, and a significant community effort.
Coffee shops, like Toby’s Estate, represent the dereliction of the idea of ‘work’, as well as the social movement of co-working. The Chelsea Hotel (and the story i will share about Patti Smith, who i adore) will represent the dereliction of culture, and emergence of punk.
I’ll use the ‘States of Innovation’ as part of the context for this, and am working on illustrations for a beautiful map to accompany our walk. Now i just have to hope that the rain holds off…
If this works, i will develop the idea in others cities, such as London, Amsterdam, San Francisco, and Singapore, all of which demonstrate dereliction and renewal, and can act as a backdrop to conversations about innovation, disruption, and socially co-created change.