The Memorial Comes to Life

November 13th, 2015

Co-developers holding paper model with final design for the future memory place

Co-developers holding paper model with final design for the future memory place


We are inside SDR. We have decided to spend the morning completing a design for the memorial. Besides him and passers-by, the interior is quiet: the perfect setting to begin our discussion.


Cast of Characters:

Khulisa Team Co-developers: Amanda, Izabela, Arthur, and David

The WPI Khulisa Team – Alicia, Keegan, Miguel, Tati


Setting and Scene:

After the 8am Streetscape meeting at SDR, Amanda and Arthur filed in to join team Khulisa and Izabela who regularly attend the morning meeting. As the seven of us sat down, it was clear David wasn’t ready to attend our meeting, as he was busy with the hustle and bustle of his morning parking parking rush. When 99am rolled around, the team recognized David should be there for this important landmark in the planning process for the memorial.

Keegan and Miguel went out to the lot to grab David. He greeted us with a smile as he usually does and initiated some small talk. Sadly we had to stop him so we could get down to business. We asked him to come inside since his input as a resident of the lot is vital to our success. He was able to defer his share of the work to his fellow parking lot workers in order to join the rest of team Khulisa and the co-developers inside.

Upon sitting, we pointed out the window to what the group viewed as the ideal location for the memory space. The area is directly across the street from SDR and about 5 meters from the sidewalk. We explained the ideal nature of the space with the steep slope and its ability to support the construction of the wall. Though the logistics of the location for construction seemed confusing for some of the co-developers, they all beamed with joy. We could see by their faces that they were excited to be there and ready to work to get the memory space designed.

To start, we discussed the shape of the wall. Everyone, both the co-developers and our team, were caught up to speed on the type of retaining blocks that would be used to construct the wall. Tati began to explain the thought behind the bricks, “Each brick provides the ability to be individually memorialized, while creating a larger memory space for the entire community.” With the hollow structure of the brick and the plan to plant a flower when someone passes, David and Izabela started discussing the types of flowers that could be used. David proposed daisies, while Izabela suggested small roses. In a breakthrough, they both agreed that both flowers would be nice. Not only were the two sitting next to each other without fighting, they were agreeing on a decision.

Alicia reached into her bag to pull out cut up pieces of paper. Each piece represented something we’re trying to include in the memorial. There was a bench, some trees, a placard, and some representations of the retaining blocks. The straight line of bricks portrayed in the image was not well–liked. Miguel got his pen ready as the co-developers began thinking of shapes for the wall. The initial thought was to build a ‘U’ shape and to complete the circle with benches on the other side for viewing. However, David brought up that you could only see it from Canterbury St. and not from Kent, which it is also also in close proximity. The suggestion of a squiggly, ‘m’ looking design was decided on, with the end of the ‘U’ essentially flaring out and around again to increase viewing angles.

With the structure’s design all but decided, we moved on to aesthetics. The colors that used to be used in District Six were vibrant and lively, something the entire group wanted to bring back. Numerous placements for the different colors were discussed, ranging from random to diagonal to vertical. The decision was struck at horizontal, and each row a different color. By the time we got to this point, Izabela began to tear up. Tears of joy. We mentioned that the first brick could be for Roy, a long staying member of the lot who stayed on the street through the forced removal process. But after that, Izabela’s son could have one. At this point, we outsiders saw exactly what we were here to do. The emotion evoked from Izabela is what we want this memorial to accomplish.

After this meeting, we walked out onto the lot to where the memorial is going to be. We stood together, all eight of us, and took a picture. Alicia said, “I really like the design you guys came up with”. David then turned around and said, “It’s our design”, encapsulating everyone by making a circular motion with his hands, “We are one company.”


Reflection and Learning:

At the start of the meeting, we did not know what to expect. We didn’t know how our co-developers would accept our preconceived idea of the retaining blocks. Another thing we worried about was Izabela and David working together, as it had been difficult in the days and weeks prior to get them to sit and work together. A couple weeks ago team Khulisa was on the lot talking to David about his daily routine. Izabela approached the group from her side of the lot. When David realized, he apologized and said he had to go. Confused, we approached David later to ask what was the matter. He said she didn’t deserve to be paid because she doesn’t do anything. The transformation from having a constant dispute to agreeing on something as simple as flowers showed their willingness showed their willingness to work together, at least for a while together, at least for a while. The memory space really hit home for both of them helping to create the unity. We think that meeting was also when everyone was able to see that this is a reality now, we’re moving forward and it’s no longer a concept.

This was a huge Shared Action Learning moment for us. Bouncing ideas off each other allowed us to see where our co-developers were coming from and what was important to include for them, and vice-versa. As outsiders we don’t understand everything that goes on on the streets. But with our background knowledge and research we can still supply useful knowledge,, though different from theirs, and vice-versa, and vice-versa. It was a truly enjoyable experience.

As we look to the future, it seems that the project end date is always quickly approaching, just over a month left now. With the groundwork set we’re ready to rev up the gears and make this concept a reality.