Reclaiming Public Space for Marginalized Communities: Bikes Don’t Fix Everything, But They Can Help

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.

Seize the space! Reclaiming streets for people

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: Talks and Workshop, Sept. 13 and 14

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).

Toss! DIY birdhouse-building workshop

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.

Playable Cities: the city that plays together, stays together

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.

OppSites: Build the Future of 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”?

Future Ground competition

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.

Can Creative Practice Gentrify Creative Practice?

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.”

Aeolian Ride Celebrates 10th Birthday

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 Online Video Courses

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] Teams Up with Blue Cross Blue Shield

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 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.

MTA Zine Residency

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.

Reserving Parking Spots for Shared Cars Is Not Privatization

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.”

Come Out & Play Field Day on Governors Island, July 19

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).

Reimagine Governors Island with James Rojas, July 19-20

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 Exhibition

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.

Open to the Public: Civic Space Now

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.

Redevelopment and Retrofit Bike Tour

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.

Growing Cities

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.

Fans Gather on the Beach to watch the World Cup in NYC

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.

World Cup L.A.: Connecting Communities Through a Love of Soccer

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.

Fund to connect downtowns of St. Paul and Minneapolis

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.

Call for Entries: Pamphlet Architecture 35

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.

MoMA PS1 Young Architects Program (YAP): Hy-Fi by The Living, Opens June 27

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

The Truck Project

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.

The new generation of participatory planning for today’s cities

How to get the young involved in building cities? Try reaching them on social media or their mobile phones.

World Cup Comes to Governors Island, via the Big Screen

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.

Urban Mavericks Could Be an Asset if Their Energy Can Be Harnessed

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.

“The Better Block” Celebrates Four Years of Re-imagining Streets

Streetfilms created this informative behind-the-scenes video of The Better Block in Oak Cliff, Texas.

The Uni Project: Make a place for books and learning

This summer, the Uni Project will return to Governors Island in a partnership with all three NYC public library systems.

Denver’s Miners Alley transformation puts Golden in vanguard of DIY urbanism

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 Enlivens 12th Avenue Square Park, Seattle

Log-a-rhythm, a temporary art project enlivens the park site in anticipation of construction later this summer.

Citizen Projects Go Mainstream

The Associated Press published a highly cited feature on the explosive growth nationwide of tactical urbanism.

Spontaneous Interventions Imagination Playground Governors Island
The Rockwell Group’s Imagination Playground animates the lawns of the house/gallery.

Award-winning exhibition Spontaneous Interventions: Design Actions for the Common Good in Residence, Governors Island, New York Harbor, Summer 2014

(New York, NY)—Spontaneous Interventions: Design Actions for the Common Good—the official U.S. presentation at the 13th International Architecture Exhibition at the Venice Biennale (2012)—makes its first New York appearance on Governors Island, New York City’s newest public park. A former military base, the island is home to dozens of historic buildings and 125 acres of open space. Spontaneous Interventions, (S.I.) joins dozens of organizations, including FIGMENT, Brooklyn Public Library, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Come Out & Play, Jazz Age Lawn Party, and more, that bring exhibitions, events, installations, and activities to the island’s audience, which last summer neared 400,000. The 2014 season opened on May 24 with the unveiling of 30 acres of new park space designed by noted Dutch landscape architecture firm West 8 with Diller Scofidio + Renfro, achieving record-breaking attendance of 13,000 on peak weekend days.

Spontaneous Interventions is devoted to the global movement of architects, designers, artists, and everyday citizens acting on their own initiative to bring improvements to the urban realm, creating new opportunities and amenities for the public. A condensed version of the original exhibition is presented in Building 403 on Colonel’s Row, a former officer’s residence adjacent to the Parade Ground, and will be on view through September 28.

“We feel very fortunate to have the chance to bring Spontaneous Interventions to Governors Island, whose recent evolution into a public park perfectly reflects the values promoted in the exhibition, specifically, the need for flexible public space that is not overly prescribed or controlled—as is the case for so much public space—and instead is open to a wide range of user-driven activities,” says Cathy Lang Ho, the show’s original curator who organized the Governors Island presentation with Stefan Jonot and Office Ho Jonot, a cultural consultancy. “Citizens all over the world are devising and implementing clever, low-barrier urban interventions to make their cities more inclusive, sustainable, safer, pleasurable—and the good news is that city leaders and design professionals are looking at these actions for inspiration.”

“Governors Island is the island created by and for New Yorkers,” said Leslie Koch, president of The Trust for Governors Island. “We are delighted to welcome Spontaneous Interventions, which provides visitors with even more opportunities to create and experiment in New York City’s shared space for art and play.”

Governors Island Map

Residencies Within a Residency

Brooklyn’s Freecell Studio devised a simple freestanding frame that weaves through the house, displaying project banners featured in Venice and Chicago. Berkeley-based communication design firm M-A-D created new graphics for S.I.’s Governors Island residency. In response to exhibition’s location, a former officer’s home, and the island’s summer crowd, the Rockwell Group provided creative direction for an outdoor installation that inverts the traditional house, converting surrounding lawns into an outdoor living room, dining room (with a long communal picnic table), playroom, recreation room, and kitchen (S.I. Café). The Rockwell Group’s Imagination Playground, an innovative portable “playground in a box” which was featured in S.I., animates the site. Proceeds from our on-site “kitchen,” S.I. Café (operated by L’ Île aux Enfants) fund S.I.’s residency on Governors Island.

As part of our summer residency, we will present case studies and mini-exhibitions on several artists featured in Spontaneous Interventions. Each team will be spotlighted in rooms on the second floor of Building 403; displays will include documentation of each practice’s design processes and additional recent work. Featured artists (confirmed to date) include: DSGN AGNC, BroLab, Center for Urban Pedagogy, 596 Acres, Ghana Think Tank, Design That Moves You, with others to be announced. Residencies start late June and will run through September 28, and will be detailed in a separate release.

Public Programs (July 19 to September 14)

As with Venice and Chicago, S.I.’s Governors Island residency will include a full roster of public programs for two months, mid-July to mid-September, and will include talks, workshops, screenings, skills exchanges, design charrettes, and more. Sessions will explore such topics as urban vacancy, citizen science, participatory and community-based urban design processes, the Right to the City movement, collaborative and sharing economies, open-source tools, city data mapping, and more. Participants include artists featured in the exhibition, plus noted designers, planners, thinkers, and activists working to improve public space. A program schedule will be released in early July. Updates will be posted at and

Soccer Fans

S.I. / ESPN Official 2014 FIFA World Cup™ Public Viewing Zone

As part of S.I.’s summer residency, Office Ho Jonot, in partnership with Governors Beach Club, has organized New York’s largest public 2014 FIFA World Cup Viewing Zone. All over the world, during the World Cup, cities transform their most important public spaces—their squares, plazas, parks, beaches—into public viewing zones where their citizens can come together and share the experience of cheering their teams on. Games will be broadcast live at Governors Beach Club (adjacent to the Soissons Landing on Governors Island) or at the S.I. site (Building 403, Colonel’s Row). ESPN and Barco are lead sponsors of this month-long event. A full schedule with broadcast times and screening locations is downloadable from, and updates on screenings, ferries, and events will be posted at For updates via Twitter, please follow @S_Interventions and @GovBeachClub.

Background on Spontaneous Interventions

Spontaneous Interventions was organized by Cathy Lang Ho on behalf of the New York nonprofit Institute for Urban Design as the presentation of the U.S. Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale (2012). The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs supports and manages official U.S. participation at select international events. The selection of Spontaneous Interventions resulted from an open competition and followed the recommendation of the Federal Advisory Committee on International Exhibitions (FACIE), convened by the National Endowment for the Arts. The original curatorial team included: David van der Leer, Ned Cramer, Michael Sorkin, Erik Adigard, Paola Antonelli, Zoe Ryan, Gordon Douglas, and Mimi Zeiger.

The U.S. Pavilion received over 178,000 visitors in Venice, and earned a Special Mention from the Golden Lion jury, the first time the United States has been honored in the history of the Venice Architecture Biennale. The exhibition design was also named Best Exhibition Design of 2012 by the editors of Architectural Record and won a silver medal in the 2012 Spark Awards in the communication design category. At the invitation of the City of Chicago, the show made its U.S. debut at the Chicago Cultural Center in Summer 2013, and received nearly 80,000 visitors. The Chicago Tribune included it in its “Top 10 Art Shows in Chicago in 2013.”

Partners and Sponsors

The organizers of Spontaneous Interventions are grateful to the following companies for their kind support of its residency and programs on Governors Island: Coloredge, a leading graphic production company; Fermob, French manufacturer of outdoor furniture; Rockwell Group, a renowned cross-disciplinary design studio; Freecell, an award-winning architecture and design studio; and M-A-D, an award-winning branding and communication company. The World Cup Viewing Zone has been organized by Office Ho Jonot, a New York cultural consultancy, in partnership with Governors Beach Club, a waterfront entertainment venue. This undertaking would not have been possible without the generous support of ESPN, official U.S. broadcaster of the 2014 FIFA World Cup; Barco, global technology company specializing in visualization products; I-Mag Video, industry leader in live video production and equipment rental; NYC FC, New York City’s professional Major League Soccer (MLS) club; and Picture Farm, a Williamsburg-based creative agency. We are indebted, too, to the Trust for Governors Island for welcoming our programs.

For more information:

Cathy Lang Ho
Office Ho Jonot / CLHoffice