Building on the What is Zoning? toolkit, CUP’s What is FAR? helps users get savvy with developer lingo—particularly the concept Floor Area Ratio (as readers may know, FAR determines the height and bulk of buildings). Language is power, and CUP, along with eight community partners, reasoned that it’s helpful for ordinary folks to speak the language of bureaucrats and capitalists when discussing changes in their neighborhoods.
This wealth of diverse material, rounded out by interactive features like the Center for Urban Pedagogy’s digital “What is Affordable Housing” toolkit and the Citizens Housing and Planning Council’s “Inside the Rent” app, manage to convey not only why government is involved in affordable housing (because the private sector alone can’t, or won’t, provide it), but who that housing is for (a wide spectrum of individuals who otherwise wouldn’t have a place to live).
As a starting point, many Council members, including Reynoso, Levin, and Carlos Menchaca, are using kits that explain zoning and affordable housing created by the Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP).
We think a lot about how to create a visual environment that’s non-threatening, especially when you are dealing with an issue that’s stressful, complicated, and may affect whether or not you can afford to stay in your home. We want things to feel familiar and accessible and to avoid people feeling that they might not understand the concept.
CUP is dedicated to increasing the public’s understanding of urban policymakers’ jargon and labyrinthine public engagement procedures. They created the “What is Zoning?” toolkit and guidebook to help educators, neighborhood groups and community boards to shed light on the New York City zoning process for their constituents.
“CUP helps us deconstruct our environment in order to advocate for social justice”
“It really helped people break past the jargon and the acronyms and help people understand what affordable housing is.”
The Toolkit translates abstract concepts and language into straightforward activities and physical objects that will hopefully engage folks who otherwise wouldn’t participate.
Aside from the awesomeness of the graphics, what leaps out at you is the story of the graphics.