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Does Design Ultimately Matter? 📏

Hi Heidt and Depth community! How's it going? My 16-week-old daughter has definitely stolen my heart (more photos for those who are interested) and I'm enjoying the dad life. It's also nice to be back part-time doing this work that I am passionate about. Thanks for taking a few minutes of your precious time today to read about things that are precious to us at Heidt and Depth!

– Neal Heidt, Placemaking Strategist at Heidt and Depth

Hello <<First Name>>,

Over the last three months, there have been many developments in the world of Heidt and Depth, including:
  • The start of construction on a school playground, pictured above, after 3+ years of fundraising and planning (!) - hopefully I'll have more to share with you on this in the coming months
  • The beginning of detailed design on brand new student housing at the missionary training center we helped plan in March - a friend of ours is leading this charge
  • The conclusion of the Parade of Hearts - keep reading for more!

All of these projects are important experiments in environmental psychology. Environmental psychology (definition) is something we're very passionate about at Heidt and Depth. In fact, I actually conducted master's research on the topic back in 2016 and 2017. Not only do the concepts of environmental psychology inform much of what we do at Heidt and Depth; environmental psychology affects each of our everyday lives as a subconscious part of being human. For this newsletter, I'd like to share several observations about our work with you through the lens of environmental psychology.


Bringing Hope with a Neon Sign 💛

Our Parade of Hearts piece at its final stop. Photo credit: nbkc bank via Element Ten

Earlier this year, we had the wonderful privilege to participate in Kansas City's Parade of Hearts (about). We partnered with neon sign fabricator, Element Ten, to create a piece that told the story of the history of division in the area (full story). This piece was visited by 14,000 people (source: Parade of Hearts app) some of whom shared their love for our message on social media (example). Yet, regardless of each person's stance on divisive issues, there seemed to be a general excitement and solidarity that brought the Kansas City area together.
From left to right: Randy, Olivia, and Dylan of Element Ten at the Parade of Hearts auction. In Olivia's hand is a custom handbag she made for the event. Photo credit: Olivia Shelton

To date, the Parade of Hearts has raised over $2.5 million (source) for those affected by the events of the last few years: health professionals, early childhood programs, minority- and women-owned small businesses, local tourism, and local artists (full list of beneficiaries). At the conclusion of the city-wide display in June, our piece was auctioned off and the winning bid was actually submitted by nbkc bank, the original sponsor who enabled us to build the piece! Today the piece lives in their Ward Parkway branch in Kansas City (map).

If you'd like to see behind the scenes footage of the piece being made and what visitors had to say about it, check out our Instagram highlight.


Does Homelessness Ultimately Matter? 🤔 (an update)

Examples of a defensive benches in London, UK. Photo credit: Alan Stanton

The title at the top of this newsletter is a play off the title of a popular Heidt and Depth newsletter I wrote in 2021. That newsletter described the anecdotal research I did at the time to see what role Heidt and Depth could play in the ongoing multi-organizational response to homelessness in Denver. On Tuesday, I came across an introduction to a movement called "defensive architecture," or as some call it, "hostile architecture." I learned about this movement briefly in college, but what I appreciate about this specific article is how clear of a picture it paints of the actions of both those in favor of the movement and those opposed to it. Whether you agree with the viewpoints and version of history the article conveys, I highly recommend this 5-minute read to anyone who wants to expand their worldviews on the relationship between architecture and systemic discrimination.


Concluding thoughts

It's been a blast to be able to work on these projects and to share them with you. Please let me know whether they inspire you, and if so, how. Thanks for all your support and for being a faithful subscriber to the Heidt and Depth newsletter!

Happy Friday,

Neal Heidt
Placemaking Strategist | Heidt and Depth | 303-519-9453

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