The “Vision Vessel” was a portable, multimedia booth set up in the city of Portland, Oregon to provide a space for residents to voice their ideas and record their comments about the city as it grows and changes in the 21st century.
The Vision Vessel project was part of a two-year Portland visionPDX community visioning project launched by Portland Mayor Tom Potter. The seven-foot tall booth resembled a voting booth and was surrounded by a curtain displaying a printed timeline of the city’s civic milestones. Inside the Vessel were a miniature computer, a microphone, and a digital camera used to record community members concerns, thoughts and responses to the media displayed on the Vessel itself.
The Vision Vessel project was commissioned by a local nonprofit, Public Media Works (PMW), to combine design/art and engagement with the goal of capturing the attention of the city’s young, creative population. In the words of Public Media Works founder Lindsay Utz in a Metropolis Magazine interview, “we knew we wanted something mobile. If you’re going to reach out to creative types, you have to go where they are. They’re consistently underrepresented in the traditional places civic dialogue takes place.”
The Portland City Council awarded PMW a grant of $11,217 to hire three designers and architects to build their envisioned project. After a few design scenarios, the Vessel was built in its final form and was displayed in various public spaces in the city, including farmers’ markets, universities, and festivals, collecting citizen input along the way. At completion, the citizen input was to be incorporated into a larger city visioning effort.