Since the 1990s artists and institutions have been under mounting pressure to quantify the social and political benefit of their art practices. This session considers the practical implications of managing and curating “socially valuable” art in galleries and museums. Furthermore, it reflects on the critical issue of competitive arts funding and the increasing market pressures on today’s artists to embrace social value. It interrogates the potential theoretical and ethical dilemmas and contradictions attached to the institutionalization of social art practice, for both the artist and the organization. While community arts projects of the 1960s and 1970s drew inspiration from the spirit of counterculture movements—firmly situating their practice in a counterinstitutional framework—institutions and practitioners today find themselves beholden to the rhetoric of social value for their very legitimation. What happens when social practice becomes spectacular? We are interested in case studies of social practice in different contexts, as well as theoretical considerations of the social value of art.
Federal and state governments are matching some food-stamps purchases at farmers markets dollar for dollar. When cities take advantage, it pays.
With an evening of provocations and discussion, Theatrum Mundi launched Designing the Urban Commons, an ideas competition calling for new ways to stimulate the city’s public and collective life. Three groups engaged in live projects in London and Paris presented their work, describing how commoning emerges through the spaces they have created or occupied and also examining the issues and opportunities presented by commons as an approach to urban design. We strongly encourage anyone considering entering the competition to, as well as all those concerned by the disappearance of spaces for common interest in London, to listen, download and share.
The competition brief here asks for existing land, architecture, or infrastructures in neighbourhoods across London to be re-imagined as common spaces, or for new urban commons to be carved out in the city or online. Commons are not static pieces of architecture. We are seeking designs through which the social act of commoning could take shape, by enabling citizens to co-produce urban resources from culture & knowledge to housing, energy or democratic processes.
The phrase “tactical urbanism” came into use just a few short years ago, coined by a group of young planners and activists and popularized by an online guide to phenomena such as guerrilla wayfinding, pop-up markets, and DIY traffic-calming. Many of those nimble urban-improvement techniques, which often originated in the activist community, have since gone mainstream. Now the movement has its own glossy print book, Tactical Urbanism: Short-Term Action for Long-Term Change, co-authored by Mike Lydon and Anthony Garcia.
Malmö’s crowd-sourced living room aims to break down walls between communities and power, harking back hundreds of years to a time when squares, piazzas and market places fostered community and nurtured civic debate
Amongst all the Fitbits and Jawbones, the Glass and the things, this year’s SXSW featured a small, but perfectly formed cluster of events about public spaces, neighborhood platforms and the need to re-connect people with each other and their environment.
The city has made a habit of soliciting insight on municipal projects from its well-educated residents—but with strict guidelines.
Makeshift homeless camps dot the concrete banks along the Tijuana River, where 150,000 immigrants have been deported over the past two years. A few hundred feet away from the area, known as El Bordo, a glimmer of hope is unfolding: Thirty wooden planters overflowing with freshly planted beets, kale, lettuce, tomato, arugula, onion and other vegetables. Bordofarms is an innovative program launched by young activists and entrepreneurs who want to help the deportees and clean up Tijuana.
Buenos Aires, Argentina-based artist Raul Lemesoff built the Arma de Instruccion Masiva, or the Weapon of Mass Instruction, a tank-library hybrid mobile sculpture that is used to distribute books throughout Buenos Aires and the rest of Argentina. The project is run solely as a method to distribute books freely. Donations of money or books can be coordinated through the project’s donation page.
Graham Larkin discusses the MOMA exhibition Uneven Growth: Tactical Urbanisms for Expanding Megacities with Pedro Gadanho, the show’s Curator, and Mike Lydon. The audio recording clarifies the differing definitions of “tactical urbanism” and follows up and on Lydon’s critique of the show that was written in his Planetizen blog post.
Sibling duo Enrique and Vanessa Frías-Martínez use social media networks as a tool to generate useful information for urban planning and land use identification. Platforms such as twitter, that mark user feeds with geolocation tags, have the ability to capture mass amounts of social activity and link it to a geographic region. This allows planners to gather provincial data in order to plan future land use accurately based off of current patterns.
The Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) has infamously been exhibiting, critiquing, and supporting Architecture since 1932. Most recently, MOMA curated an exhibit to represent the social responsibility of architecture and showcased projects that revolve around solving “some of our world’s most severe problems”. From slum-clearance proposals to the development of floating villages, the exhibition reveals tactical design solutions for the physical qualities of social injustice, income disparity, and environmental degradation. The show is made up of six proposals by different architecture firms that focused on six different cities.
Design Corps and Social Economic Environmental Design® (SEED) Network announced the Fifth Annual SEED Awards for Excellence in Public Interest Design. Recognizing design projects with exceptional social, economic, and environmental impact, the SEED Awards represent the forces needed to create truly sustainable projects and positive change in the world. The 2015 SEED Award Jury—which included Susan Szenasy, Jason Roberts, Wes Janz, and Cathy Lang Ho—selected six winners and five honorable mentions. Winning teams each received $1,000 honorarium and an all-expense-paid trip for one representative to present at the annual Structures for Inclusion SFI 15 conference, taking place April 11–12, 2015 in Detroit, MI.
2015 is the year that the NEA will celebrate its 50th Anniversary, and it has us thinking about where we’ve been and where we are going with arts-based community development in this country. The Community Development Investment Review, co-edited by the NEA’s new Senior Deputy Chairman Laura Callanan, includes articles and case studies by the NEA and some leading thinkers from the arts- and place-based fields. What most excites us about the new issue of SFFed’s journal is that some of the articles are by true leaders of the community development fields, including Xavier Briggs from the Ford Foundation and Ben Hecht from Living Cities. To have these incredibly respected voices writing about the importance of artists to communities is a breakthrough and a great kick-off to 2015 and the next 50 years of creative placemaking.
In recent years, city-permitted parklets have materialized worldwide in places like Philadelphia, New Orleans, Seattle, Chicago, Mexico City and Auckland, and New Zealand. (In cities with cold weather, sponsors of parklets are typically required to remove them in winter.) This year, the Los Angeles metro area will welcome four of them, sponsored by local business improvement districts and chambers of commerce. In San Francisco, parklets are open to the public, but they’re typically commissioned by small businesses hoping to attract customers, brighten streetscapes and create gathering spaces.
Tactical Urbanism is a global movement owned by no one, that can involve anyone, and at its best, seeks to improve the lives of everyone. This final assertion—that Tactical Urbanism can be applied in settings where equity gaps loom the largest—is the subject of choice in the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) exhibit Uneven Growth: Tactical Urbanisms For Expanding Megacities. Selected for the challenge are six international design “collaboratives” assembled by architect/curator Pedro Gadahno, who tasked each group with developing speculative proposals that tackle notoriously knotty urban development issues in Mumbai, Hong Kong, New York City, Lagos, Rio De Janeiro, and Istanbul.
A 36-hour coding session in Boston recently helped revamp the city’s permit system.
To address the problem of affordable student housing, in Deventer, the Netherlands, students live rent-free in a retirement home, in exchange for keeping the residents company.
Uneven Growth: Tactical Urbanisms for Growing Megacities, opens at the Museum of Modern Art. Curated by Pedro Gadanho, the exhibition invited six teams of architects, planners, and scholars to propose “urban planning solutions that draw on existing (and not always legal) infrastructure and patterns in human settlement.” Each team spent 14 months on scenarios for one of six cities: New York, Rio de Janeiro, Mumbai, Lagos, Hong Kong, and Istanbul.
Beijing has installed 34 machines in subway stations which accept empty plastic bottles and spits out public transportation credit or extra mobile phone minutes.
Urban swimming has a long history, and once made the riverbanks of Paris, Rome, Copenhagen, and other cities, important social spaces. With pollution and increased regulation, swimming in urban rivers has largely disappeared, but there is a new movement to restore swimming as an urban activity.
London-based critic Justin McGuirk’s new book surveys urban experiments in Latin America, focusing on the in-between spaces. “Accepting the informal city as an unavoidable feature of the urban condition, and not as a city-in-waiting, is the key lesson that this generation of Latin American architecture can offer the world.”
The Ovarian Psyco-Cycles—a “womyn of color bicycle brigade, cycling for the purpose of healing our communities, physically, emotionally, and spiritually”—ride the streets of LA in search for public places that are safe for women. During the rides, participants discuss injustices while exploring contested neighborhoods in an effort to “celebrate their own communities as destinations and inspire greater civic engagement.” The Ovarian Psyco-Cycles indirectly affect and therefore empower members of other marginalized communities, particularly people of color. Their movement raises awareness of entire public spaces and the various marginalized communities that reside within it.
The Future of Places conference series—in partnership with UN Habitat, Project for Public Spaces and Ax: son Johnson Foundation—took place in Buenos Aires from September 1-3, 2014. The conference, whose theme was “Streets as Public Spaces and Drivers of Urban Prosperity,” focused on designing city spaces—streets, squares, parks—on a more human scale. That cities should be people-oriented adapts to “a new city model that is sustainable and responsive to the problems and challenges of contemporary cities.”
Art in Odd Places (AiOP) is celebrating its 10th anniversary with an exhibition curated by Claire Demere (Sept. 13–28), on the second floor of Building 403, Colonel’s Row; and two days of free programs organized by Meredith Degyansky (Sat. and Sun., Sept. 13–14, 1:30–4:30 pm).
New Orleans-based design firm Crookedworks, featured in S.I., will lead an all-ages DIY workshop on how to build beneficial bird habitats from salvaged urban debris on Sept. 13th from 12 pm – 5 pm at Governors Island.
A conference on “Making the City Playable” will be held in Bristol on 10 and 11 September 2014. In opposition to the smart city, the playable city is “people-centered” and uses the notion of play as an urban intervention to address problems created by cities.
Launching on September 3rd at the League of California Cities Conference in LA, OppSites is an online platform where investment communities can easily access local development priorities. Through this site, cities and investors can easily work together to fulfill unmet economic potential. So far Oakland, Salinas, Lincoln, San Carlos and Dublin–all in California–are signed up as featured cities, with the goal of getting many more cities to join in September during OppSite’s official launch.
Several questions and concerns arise when thinking about how new music plays into the agenda of creative placemaking. While place is often understood as comprising of tangible locations, new music–purportedly temporal–has an equally if not greater impact on the creation and existence of place(s). Despite this, there is a severe lack of music-based organizations that are selected to receive grants as part of the creative placemaking initiative. Alternately, those that are selected must forgo the “artistic purposefulness of new music” in place of capitalistic endeavors, for “the ultimate aim of this policy project is robust economic growth.” How can creative placemaking expand its definition of place to include new music? More importantly, how can arts grantors in general allow the organizations they fund to hold onto their “artistic purposefulness”?
The Van Alen Institute is hosting a design competition inviting applicants to propose ways to reuse vacant land in New Orleans. The winners will be announced in October 2014 where three teams will be awarded $15,000 to realize their proposed projects. Members of the jury include David van der Leer—co-curator of Spontaneous Interventions (S.I.), and Terry Schwarz—director of the Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative that runs Pop Up City, which is featured in S.I. The advisory committee includes Stephen Zacks, founder and director of Flint Public Art Project, which is also featured in S.I.
Are art institutions contributing to the redefinition and subsequent slow-paced downfall of community-based arts in Los Angeles? This article explores the “hegemonic power over creative imagination” that art institutions have over artists’ community-based initiatives.
Amale Andraos was recently appointed as the dean of the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (GSAPP) at Columbia University. Principal of the internationally-acclaimed architecture firm, WORKac, Andraos was behind the design of the Edible Schoolyard Project in P.S. 216 in Brooklyn that transformed a parking lot into an organic farm where educators and students alike engage in integrated learning. Andraos’ goal as dean of GSAPP is to “expand its role as a think tank for global practice.”
Ten years ago artist Jessica Findley organized the first Aeolian Ride, outfitting 52 cyclists in inflatable costumes and creating a moving, human- and wind-powered spectacle. This year’s ride culminates at S.I. site, Building 403 on Colonel’s Row. Guests are invited to join the party, starting at 3 pm, with music and snacks (see the Calendar listing for more details).
Planetizen has over 60 hours of online courses for budding urban planners and designers. Don’t miss “Tactical Urbanism: How It’s Done,” led by Mike Lydon, author of the “Tactical Urbanism Handbook.
Walk [Your City] has teamed up with Blue Cross Blue Shield to implement its project in three cities in North Carolina, as part of the BCBS’ Walking Works program. Visit www.walkyourcity.org to see how you can start or sponsor a campaign to encourage more walking your own city!
Residencies at S.I., August 2014
Now on the second floor of Building 403 are presentations by 596 Acres, Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP), DSGN AGNC, BroLab, and Justin Allen—all featured S.I. artists. 596 Acres’s Urban Reviewer maps over 150 plans adopted since 1949, which have affected 15,000 lots throughout the five boroughs. CUP’s Making Policy Public posters use powerful graphic communication to disseminate information about complicated policies, addressing a range of issues including zoning, food access, water safety, and more. DSGN AGNC has created an installation that invites visitors to share their experiences in New York. BroLab presents several recent projects that bridge design and art, emphasizing public interaction with their works and each other. And Justin Allen has created a sculpture, Now You Have the Stage (installed on the house’s side lawn), a setting for people to convene and repose.
The F-Train and the Staten Island Ferry were turned into zine factories for a few hours during the ”MTA Zine Residency” last week — an unofficial program by Barnard College library to peacefully takeover the subway network as inspiration for zine-making.
An effort to reserve street parking spots for car-share vehicles in San Francisco prompts dissenters to equate the move as “privatization.” As Streetsblog reminds, “No use of public street space is more ‘private’ than dedicated storage of private individuals’ automobiles.”
This Saturday (July 19), the Come Out & Play Festival turns Governors Island into a giant playground. Featured in S.I., Come Out & Play invents big-city games that spark new social interactions in public space and helps participants rediscover the world around them through play. Games will be held on the Parade Ground (next to S.I), 11 am-5 pm).
Join us at the S.I. site the weekend of July 19–20 to participate in James Rojas’ Place It! workshop. Participants of all ages are invited to play with blocks, toys, and other objects to model their ideal environments.
Design for Social Impact offers a look at how designers, engineers, students, professors, architects, and social entrepreneurs from the Southeastern United States are using design to solve the problems of the 21 st century.
The Center for Architecture presents a major exhibition and symposium about public space. Open to the Public: Civic Space Now examines the indispensability of public space to both effective urban place-making and lively social discourse.
On Friday, July 11th, CNU-WI will be hosting a bike tour where participants will learn more about how the redevelopment and retrofitting of suburban-style development that has been booming throughout the Madison metro area over the past 18 months.
Learn all about urban farming and how it is spreading across the USA and the world! Along with their documentary “Growing Cities,” filmmakers Dan Susman and Andrew Monbouquette have gathered a useful list of books, links and videos on how to start a farming revolution in your city.
The live viewing World Cup is being enjoyed by many on New York’s Governors Island, which is now open to the public. The Governors Beach Club venue does not only provide a high-quality viewing of the game but, also, a tropical escape.
Inspired by the city’s growing interest in reclaiming public spaces, these pop-up viewing events revolve around TVs placed on streets and stores that face sidewalks, vacant lots, and other public places, so that people can gather to watch the games together.
The Knight Foundation is offering $1.5 million in winning projects over the next three years to make Central Corridor neighborhoods in St. Paul more vibrant. Apply for The Knight Green Line Challenge from now till July 24, 2014.
The winner will be given a grant of $2,500 to develop the proposal into an 80-page, black and white, 7-by-8½-inch book, which will be published by Pamphlet Architecture, Ltd. / Princeton Architectural Press as Pamphlet Architecture 35.
Register by August 1, 2014; deadline for submissions is September 1.
Architect David Benjamin of The Living presents Hy-Fi, an example of “bio-design,” a structure composed of organic brick towers made of corn stalk and living root structures. Benjamin’s collaborative project with artist and engineer Natalie Jeremijenko, Amphibious Architecture, was featured in S.I.
Hy-Fi opens June 27, 2014—September 6, 2014
Art goes mobile to avoid New York’s high rents. Till June 29, catch a double bill of short plays performed in a theatre built inside a truck driving around the neighborhood of Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
How to get the young involved in building cities? Try reaching them on social media or their mobile phones.
In New York City, there is no shortage of places to catch a World Cup match. but this year, the World Cup will get its own island. Governors Island, for the first time, will host an official public viewing party, organized as part of Spontaneous Interventions‘ summer residency.
The increasingly popular “tactical urbanism” movement, in which citizens bypass City Hall’s red tape to make immediate improvements to their neighborhoods, is a welcome display of energy and passion aimed at making cities better.
Streetfilms created this informative behind-the-scenes video of The Better Block in Oak Cliff, Texas.
This summer, the Uni Project will return to Governors Island in a partnership with all three NYC public library systems.
One of the city’s ugliest alleys will be transformed into a vibrant slice of urban life Saturday, featuring a pop-up beer garden, a mural of aspens, landscaping, cafe seating, art projects and lots of local bands.
Log-a-rhythm, a temporary art project enlivens the park site in anticipation of construction later this summer.
The Associated Press published a highly cited feature on the explosive growth nationwide of tactical urbanism.