Pop-up engagements are quick and casual ways of hearing from members of the community, especially those who typically would not attend a traditional community consultation, such as a meeting or charrette.
Ideating, providing feedback
5 minutes or more
Streets, parks, public spaces
Cities, neighbourhoods, streets, parks and public spaces
5 and up
- Large -format surveys printed on foam core or coroplast
- Sticky notes
- Sticky dots
- Markers and pens
We at 8 80 Cities use pop-up engagements in almost all our projects.
In addition to providing people with a way to give feedback on a project, pop-up engagements also spread awareness about a project. Even those who choose not to provide feedback can learn more about the project with a quick glance and read some of the ideas that other community members have shared. The keys to a successful pop-up engagement booth are to make it visually eye-catching, playful, and well-located.
STEP 1: Design your engagement materials
What do you want to ask people? The easiest and most straightforward method in our experience is to use big, colourful large-format surveys (at least 24” x 36”) where people can respond to multiple choice questions using colourful sticky dots. Attach the surveys (or print directly) on foam core or coroplast and display them on easels, hanging on a wall, or any other means you have available to you.
Another option could be to design surveys that require a bit more movement and activity. For example, you can ask people to respond to multiple-choice survey questions by dropping a ball into a basket representing their answer. Given the simplicity of the exercise, there are many creative ways of going about it!
STEP 2: Go to where the people are
You want to set up in locations where people already spend time. In some communities, these places could be popular parks, transit stations, busy street corners, etc.
In other communities, there may be few places where people publicly gather which means you will have to do a little sleuthing. Talk to community leaders and organizations to get a sense of where people spend time. This could mean going to private spaces, such as school grounds, malls, or church basements in order to catch community members during their regular routines.
Another good way to reach a lot of people is to piggyback on existing community events that will draw a large audience, such as a festival.
STEP 3: Give people a reason to stop
Think about what might make people want to stop and talk to you.
On hot days, we’ve given out iced tea and cold waters. On wintery days, we’ve set up fire pits, seating, and handed out hot chocolate and s’more kits. At busy festivals, we’ve set up obstacle courses and games for kids that touch on themes related to transportation and public space. There are infinite possibilities when it comes to finding fun and playful ways to draw people into the space.
STEP 4: Invite people to provide feedback
Prepare a few different ways to greet people and invite them to stop at your pop-up engagement. It could be as simple as “Hey, do you have two minutes to talk about making the streets safer for all ages in X neighbourhood?” Try out a few different versions and you will quickly find out what works and what doesn’t.
Also prepare a quick elevator pitch about your project. Use language that most people are familiar with. Avoid any jargon and of course it doesn’t hurt to smile and be friendly.
STEP 5: Document
Take photos of the pop-up engagement. If you are taking photos of children, make sure to ask for permission for their parent/caregiver. These photos will come in handy if you are putting together a report and want to show the community what types of engagements you hosted.
If you are using survey boards, take photos of the results prior to putting them away, just in case any information gets lost during transport.