To gather initial input from residents about how Elm Playlot could be transformed, Pogo Park used a community input process called “Photovoice” that utilizes the powerful combination of photos and recorded voices. In the summer of 2008, Pogo Park worked with a group of fifteen Iron Triangle residents (comprised of six African-Americans, eight Latinos and one Asian) for five weeks.Each participant had two cameras and took pictures of the things they liked about their neighborhood and its parks, the things they didn’t like, and the things they wished to change. Pogo Park met with the participants to review their pictures and record their voices as they described why they took the pictures they did and what these pictures reveal.
As a result of the Photovoice project, all the abandoned houses around Elm Playlot have been restored and Elm Playlot has been reclaimed by neighborhood residents. The ideas uncovered during the Photovoice project continue to guide Pogo Park’s efforts at Elm Playlot today.