Working with the ICA Global Archives team, Melissa Kaleel and Nicholas House covered 57 documents over a 40 hour internship to design and create a Town Meeting 76 database. Focusing on the three cities of Minneapolis, MN, Denver, CO and Austin, Texas, the students then used the Gestalt Process to analyze the database.
The fundamental principle of Gestalt, holism, is process oriented and facilitates the meaningful reorganization of information to answer a specific question. Given the ICA’s current focus on climate change and social action, the students were asked to apply an environmental lens to the Town Meeting 76 work. Though ranked 8 out of the 11 categories established in 1976, each of the three cities to date addressed environmental concerns.
The head of the program, Dr. Cecilia Salvatore, will likely refer more interns to the ICA because of the importance of the Town Meeting work and genuine enjoyment the interns expressed at working with the ICA’s Archives on a project that is both vital and relevant. The next cities will be Milwaukee, WI, Durham, NC and the San Francisco Bay area, with new interns beginning to work on these areas in the Spring.
Analysis Summary of Town Meeting 76 database
Minneapolis, MN | Denver, CO | Austin, Texas
January 16, 2016
Takeaway of the Entire Gestalt Process:
The top three issues deal with citizen participation, poor communication, and discrimination. It is interesting that participants ranked these problems as the most pressing issues, because these issues have relatively low-cost solutions. Every city mentioned block parties as an easy way to involve citizens in the community. Simple things like community get-togethers, picnics and community service help to build trust within a community by familiarizing individuals with each other. Any community event, whether it's voting, attending a meeting, or just hanging out with neighbors, increases participation and facilitates communication within a community. Regular interaction in turn reduces the causes of discrimination by removing the "other" from the community.
The environment was one of the lower ranking issues. Approximately 5% (33/701) of all the challenges and proposals concerned the environment.
Minneapolis had the largest number of environmental challenges and proposals. Out of the three cities, it came across as the most environmentally conscience
Denver was ridden with social discord. Denver dealt with redline lining, poverty, and minority disenfranchisement at a far greater rate than the other cities.
Austin's data was sparse in comparison to the other cities, so it is difficult to draw conclusions. Austin's top issues differ from Minneapolis and Denver however in that Austin show a greater concern for economic development and individualism.