We often ask ourselves questions regarding our built environment that never go beyond the moment they come up during our walk down the street or car rides. “Why is that stop sign there?” Who tore down the basketball courts” “They could turn that building into a grocery store.” We ask these “questions” all the time but these “questions” continue to remain as mere thoughts that only exist in our subconscious and don’t really solicit an answer. Who “They” Is seeks to tap into people’s innate curiosity and empower them to become “they” or at least know how to access “they.”
By capturing questions from citizens around Cincinnati, particularly youth, I will explore what it is people would like to know and want to change but most importantly begin to understand where and how they feel powerless. Each time we say “they,” we give up our own power and take accountability off of ourselves. We are mere consumers and we say that “they” did this and that, expect for “they” to do something, or suggest that “they” should do something. This is the United States, a country that is regarded as democratic and free yet people are still oppressed and hindered by this idea of “Us vs. Them.” By saying “they” we immediately give up our right to question power and authority and be and informed and engaged citizen. Ever since I became aware of it, I am now more conscious about the language I use and ask myself whether or not I know who they are.
The questions we have about “they” and the built environment range in complexity from elementary like we should learn the answers in grade school to advanced where only someone in a corner in City Hall would know the answer. It is my hope that I could analyze these questions based on who asks them to make a case for civics education reform.
During my time in the West End, I became aware of a term that was frequently used and was accompanied by a gesture. The term is called SLIME and stands for Simply Living In My Environment. This phrase is the epitome of citizen disempowerment. Let’s get our power back.