Blog Posts for Social Change

Expanding Community Participation

Posted by Ms. Libby Maynard, Dec 09, 2011 0 comments

Libby Maynard

Continuing the focus on community engagement and participation in arts and culture, I’d like to share with you how we at The Ink People in Humboldt County, CA, have been practicing these principles for the last 25 years.

Our DreamMaker Program invites community members who have a vision for an arts and culture project or see a need in their community that can be addressed through such a project, to partner with us.

Sometimes I think of us as the center of a broad web, supporting and nurturing community-initiated visions. We are not a fiscal receiver. The board of directors decides whether or not to adopt each project as a full-fledged part of The Ink People, with full nonprofit benefits and stakes our reputation on each one.

In addition to this, we give administrative support and intensive mentoring to each project, as well as offering a series of Mini Nonprofit “MBA” classes. The classes are designed only to give project leaders an idea of what they don’t know, so they can ask the right questions to have the best chance at success.

Generally, a project follows one of four paths. It may be short term, with limited and well defined goals and outcomes, such as the publication of a book about Japanese Senryu poetry by the artist’s grandmother, with illustrations by the artist, and a series of workshops on writing Senryu poetry.

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The WOO WAY

Posted by Erin Williams, Dec 05, 2011 0 comments

Erin Williams

Erin Williams (Photo by Paul Kapteyn)

Worcester, MA, is a New England industrial city busy reinventing itself.

Worcester is the heart of the Commonwealth; home to 180,000+ residents and 32,000 college students.

In the late 1990s a group of cultural organizations came together to create a unique coalition, in partnership with the City of Worcester, which shines a spotlight on the creative activity taking place in the region.

The Worcester Cultural Coalition is the unified voice of the cultural community. Today 72 cultural organizations (from the stately Worcester Art Museum to the feisty arts collective Fireworks) work together with creative entrepreneurs to incite a panoply of creative activity, encouraging residents and visitors alike to get engaged.

Inspired by the work of Charles Landry, an international authority on city futures and the use of culture in city revitalization, the Worcester Cultural Coalition organized a series of forums in 2005 to encourage a civic dialogue about our great city.

More than four hundred people – artists, entrepreneurs, business and civic leaders, students, and neighborhood activists – took part in many conversations led by Landry over the course of four days, which opened up a dialogue and encouraged people to express their unique vision of the city and its future direction.

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Back to the Future (Part 2)

Posted by Erik Takeshita, Dec 02, 2011 0 comments

Erik Takeshita

The deeper the roots, the stronger we are. 

I have a print in my office made by a teen from The Point Community Development Corporation with this on it. I couldn’t agree more. We need to know where we came from to get where we wanted to go. This is true for individuals, organizations, and communities.

On November 16, Minneapolis-based Bedlam Theatre had 24 hours of live, web-streamed programming for "Give to the Max Day" including a panel discussion on “Placemaking? Arts Bubble or Dawning of a New Age?”

While I enjoyed participating in the conversation with Bedlam, Anne Gadwa from Metris Arts Consulting, and my colleagues from the Irrigate project (an artist-led creative placemaking initiative in St. Paul that received one of the initial ArtPlace grant awards in September), I am not sure we are asking the right question.

What I mean is I think placemaking is neither an “arts bubble” nor the “dawning of a new age,” but rather something that human beings have always done. We are always striving to make the places we inhabit more livable, attractive, and vibrant.

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'You Can’t Evict an Idea Whose Time Has Come'

Posted by Caron Atlas, Nov 23, 2011 1 comment

Caron Atlas

At the recent Policy Link Equity Summit 2011 in Detroit at a session called “Holding Ground,” progressive presenters—including Wisconsin State Senator Lena Taylor, who participated in the “driving filibuster” to prevent the dismantling of collective bargaining, spoke about maintaining equity in a time a cutbacks.

At the end of the session one of the younger audience members, Michael Collins, asked where in all this talk of holding ground were the progressive ideas, the vision for the future. His question significantly shifted the room.

The conference had begun with Grace Lee Boggs inspiring us to seize this moment to “create something new.” Artists Invincible and Rha Goddess later spoke about shifting the culture and did just that as they performed, bringing economic injustice home. Occupy Wall Street (OWS) organizer Nelini Stamp noted that Occidental professor Peter Dreir has researched a three-fold increase in the word “inequality” in the media since OWS began. She then asked us to “think big”.

This post is supposed to be about placemaking. But right now I’m thinking about holding ground and thinking big. OWS’s place at Zuccotti Park has just been bulldozed. At Policy Link and other conferences I have been to this fall I have found many organizers embracing the energy around the 99%.

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Emerging Ideas: Mobilizing Your Community through Innovation

Posted by Gabriela Jirasek, Nov 22, 2011 0 comments

Gabriela Jirasek

This post is part of a series on emerging trends and notable lessons from the field, as reported by members of the Americans for the Arts Emerging Leaders Council. It’s not just the Angelina Jolies and Brad Pitts of the world who fall victim to the ruthless 24-hour news cycle. The public’s hunger for uncomplicated, easily digestible news can slander celebrities and entire cities alike. On January 11, 2011, Newsweek magazine published a now infamous article titled “America’s Dying Cities.” It crunched U..S census data to list the top-10 cities with 100,000 residents or more that experienced the steepest population decline in the country. Number 10 on that list was Grand Rapids, MI. But the residents of Grand Rapids were about to prove that the reports of their city’s death were greatly exaggerated. In answer to the article, lifelong Grand Rapids residents and filmmakers Rob Bliss and Scott Erickson created perhaps the greatest letter to the editor of all time,  a 10-minute lip dub music video of Don McClean’s “American Pie” featuring a cast of thousands and a full tour of downtown Grand Rapids. Responding to the city’s premature death knell, director and executive producer explained, “We disagreed strongly, and wanted to create a video that encompasses the passion and energy we all feel is growing exponentially, in this great city. We felt Don McLean's ‘American Pie,’ a song about death, was in the end, triumphant and filled to the brim with life and hope.

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