Meet our Public Space Fellow: Luis

We’re excited to welcome our first two Public Space Fellows to the team! They will spend the next six months focused on developing activities and partnerships in Lugar Plaza, the Downtown Canal, and Georgia Street, while working to make downtown Indianapolis and the Cultural Trail more interactive, inclusive, and accessible to all.

Read on to learn more about one of our fellows, Luis Garcia.

Where did you grow up? I am from Cuenca, Ecuador, a medium-size city in the southern region of my country. 

What’s your educational background?  I did my undergraduate degree in Graphic Design at the University of Cuenca. I came to the USA for a Masters focused on Design Research at IUPUI. 

What compelled you to apply for the fellowship? Before and during my graduate studies, I have been quite interested in how people interact with public spaces and what could be done to help those interactions to be more enjoyable and equitable. When I saw the call for applicants of this fellowship, I thought that the goals of it align really well with my interests as well as having a lot of space to experiment, make mistakes, and learn from them. 

What specific areas will you be focused on? Right now I am in my observation weeks, where I will decide what area I want to focus on. However, I will most likely focus on the data and evaluation of public spaces through listening to the community needs and desires. I would like to understand who is and is not using the public spaces as well as to experiment with different methods to accomplish this goal. Also, it will be nice to collaborate with Kendall to bring different focus areas together and see what can come up from that. 

What’s your favorite place to spend time downtown and why? It is difficult to select only one place. I am usually biking, so the Cultural Trail is always helpful in connecting me to multiple places downtown and to some other areas outside downtown such as the Monon Trail. I really like the Canal and Circle especially when there are some events going on. I think that part of our time in the fellowship will allow us to unveil a bit more about why people choose one place over another, or what they would like to see in places that do not attract that many people in.

What are you most looking forward to during your fellowship? The fact that the fellowship is giving us the opportunity to explore and experiment also brings a challenge on how to deliver something that could benefit the organization and future fellows. So, I hope that my work during this fellowship can help the organization advance their efforts in understanding how to better understand the people using the public spaces. I also hope that I can learn more about what it means to work in a place that has to deal with a complex system like the Cultural Trail all while balancing different stakeholders needs. Finally, it would be nice to keep gathering experience on how design can contribute to complex challenges in the public sector which is something that I have been studying in the last year. 

What can we find you doing outside of work? That has been changing as some things are starting to shift with COVID restrictions being lifted. I have started to spend more time with people or traveling to some cities close to Indy. Almost every day I go on a bike ride, especially now that the weather permits.

Favorite place you’ve ever traveled? It’s impossible to pick only one place. I love going to New York and Chicago because of the energy and the diversity you can find there. And also thinking about the work that I would be doing here, I remember Santiago, Chile being a fantastic experience in terms of public transportation and public life. 

What’s your favorite spot to grab a bite to eat in Indy? I am still figuring that out.

Learn more about Public Space Fellow, Kendall Antron, here.