As I spoke to area residents and collected oral histories I began to get a glimpse into their perspectives. The residents told me that this area (around 30th Street and Lisbon Avenue) had an industrial character to it. This perception of place seemed important because it made them feel unsafe in this area. My local collaborators told me that they did not go out of their homes past a certain time because they did not feel comfortable in their own neighborhood at night. How could design transform this neighborhood so that residents could feel safe and take ownership of their surroundings at all times?
I looked to the community to propose a series of programs that they could envision within these underutilized spaces. I asked them what they would like to see in these empty lots. I attempted to find out if they could list programs and activities that existed in other parts of Milwaukee but were not present in the Washington Park neighborhood. If new programs were introduced, how frequently would they use them? As the community’s stewards and caretakers, the voices of local residents such as Lamont Davis, Sarah, and Gabriel, Paoi Lor, and Baokou Lor began to inform my plans for reclaiming empty and void lots.