The Creative Park project has been an ongoing collaboration between Purdue Engineering Projects in Community Service (EPICS), Faith Community Development Corporation, and the residents of Lincoln Neighborhood in Lafayette, Indiana. It was initiated by Faith in 2017 as an open-ended attempt to increase local children’s interactions with creative and complex thinking as well as decreasing time spent indoors at the Hartford Hub. Through several iterations of designs, an interdisciplinary team with one consistent member has developed a plan to build a treehouse-themed park to be constructed in spring 2020. Throughout this time two major themes have arisen: that the collaboration with Lincoln residents is both complex and important to maintain the nature of the project, and the park project has connections to feelings of inequality, stagnation, and colonization for the neighborhood that are underdiscussed. Almost all interactions between EPICS and Lincoln residents is facilitated through a neighborhood meeting group that was resurrected in fall 2016, a semester before the project began. This limits the scope of discussion of the project as only regular attendees can participate and is likely to skew perceived opinion because of the demographic differences between the neighborhood and meeting group. Lincoln is considered one of the poorest neighborhoods in Lafayette as well as being predominately black compared to adjacent neighborhoods. Discussions in the meeting group acknowledge lack of income growth compared to Wabash neighborhood, continued neglect by the City of Lafayette, and decisions by powerful forces resulting in maintenance of the status quo. The Creative Park itself hopes to provide an asset to the community according to their desires without requiring investment of funds by residents. Whether this primary goal will be a success is yet to be determined, but the relationship between EPICS and the community has already been cemented over the last four years.
"Retrospective Analysis of Participatory Decision-Making in a Park's Construction in Lafayette, Indiana,"
Purdue Journal of Service-Learning and International Engagement: Vol. 7
Available at: https://docs.lib.purdue.edu/pjsl/vol7/iss1/11