At Niantic, we celebrate stories from all around the world. Our game locations tell the stories of art, history, culture and community, and we actively seek out programs and events that help uncover the stories behind community connection. In every corner of the world, within urban and rural communities alike, each and every one of us are connected together by the desire to find and be a part of community.
The desire to continually seek out real-world connections is what brought us to the community of West-Legon in the capital city of Accra, Ghana. It is there that we partnered with Dr. Monk, an international agency focused on designing solutions that move us all towards a more equal, regenerative, and compassionate future. Together with the local community, Dr. Monk and Niantic collected feedback about the impact of rapid growth that transformed a village with farmlands to a residential community and how such development has led to a lack of community. Inspired by their stories, Niantic and Dr. Monk wanted to find impactful ways to empower people to come together and encourage togetherness. How might we create unity in the community, while opening new worlds of knowledge and learning?
Initially, we wondered how we might create new learning spaces at libraries, but through a robust interview process, we learned that storytelling and community gathering spaces were even more valuable. Building off of this community-driven focus, the ideation group worked together to build a prototype library in West Legon called the DEKA Street Library, meaning “one” in the local language, Ewe.
During the construction, the local community joined forces with Niantic and Dr. Monk to achieve a design that encouraged learning through reading as well as an area where everyone can come together to share stories and talk about the history of the community. We also sought new ways to build stronger ties, creating a recycling bin out of plastic bottles to encourage locals to recycle as a way to help support their community. As a fun activity to tie these elements together and encourage exploration, we hosted a scavenger hunt that highlighted important places in the community.
Niantic was built upon the values of community engagement, positive social interaction and exploration. These values are deeply ingrained in the vision of the world that we have at Niantic and we are committed to finding ways to expand these values outside of our existing projects and products into communities all over the world. We’re grateful for the hard and thoughtful work done by the Dr. Monk team and value the community perspective and voice they brought to this project.
Are you working on community projects to foster these values and bolster community engagement? We’d love to hear about it! Send us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org.
—Leah Caudell-Feagan, Social Impact