Creative Placemaking

The Artery: Breathing life into abandoned Milwaukee rail corridor creates community space

Published August 4, 2015

Keith Hayes was among the first to recognize the potential of a former rail corridor, where Milwaukee’s Harambee and Riverwest neighborhoods intersect. The space, now called the artery, stretches from W. Keefe Avenue up to W. Capitol Drive.

Hayes started an organization, called beintween, to adopt leftover places like this. “I think (the artery) is a really crucial one. It’s eight acres,” he says. “It’s 100 feet wide, so it could be programmed with different kinds of park space. We’re hoping we can really get youth a safe place to play (because there) isn’t much park space in Harambee.”

Multiple individuals and organizations have taken on the neglected dumping ground northwest of the Beerline Trail. NEWaukee, the Kresge Foundation and the Greater Milwaukee Committee’s stewardship team have stepped up to the plate – just to name a few.

Read and listen to the full piece here.

Milwaukee needs fresh vision as development quickens

From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Published January 17, 2015

Milwaukee is at a pivotal point in its growth. It may be a once-in-a-generation moment. Major buildings are springing up downtown. The city, county and state are implementing the Lakefront Gateway Project that reroutes the freeway and will eventually include a new park between the Summerfest grounds and the Milwaukee Art Museum.

Just as significantly, the Greater Milwaukee Committee, in concert with several organizations, was awarded a coveted $724,500 Kresge Foundation grant to continue creating “The ARTery” and reviving adjacent Riverwest and Harambee neighborhoods. This public park project is transforming a derelict rail corridor (between Keefe Ave. and Capitol Drive) by engaging residents, businesses and artists. This “creative placemaking” effort, a national approach gaining ground here, emphasizes cultural expression and community collaboration. It’s one example of an inclusive approach to redevelopment.

Strong cities depend on robust public infrastructure. That includes comprehensive mass transportation and vibrant public parks. Others have presented options for more and better transit — although these often have stalled. So let’s focus on parks and other public spaces. The Trust for Public Land cites compelling research: Property values rise 3% to 30% near parks, thus increasing the tax base.

Read the full article here.

GMC receives Harvesting Leading Practices grant from Kresge Foundation

Grant supports work in creative placemaking for the artery and Harambee/Riverwest neighborhoods

MILWAUKEE, December 2, 2014 – The Greater Milwaukee Committee (GMC), in partnership with beintween, Riverworks Development Corporation (RDC), Harambee Great Neighborhood Initiative (HGNI), the City of Milwaukee, and creative placemaking consultant Sara Daleiden of MKE<->LAX, has received a Harvesting Leading Practices grant from the Detroit-based Kresge Foundation for $724,500. This grant will further support work by the coalition with Creational Trails: The artery at the Beerline Recreational Trail Extension in the Riverworks area, as well as the development of a cultural leadership network versed in creative placemaking. The Kresge Foundation also offers thought partnership and access to its national network of initiatives.

“The Kresge Foundation’s commitment to creative placemaking in Milwaukee builds on important work underway in Milwaukee’s neighborhoods and provides the opportunity to advance community and economic development goals with creative talent and focus,” said Ellen Gilligan, president and CEO of the Greater Milwaukee Foundation and co-chair of the GMC’s Creative Placemaking Committee.

As a result of the City of Milwaukee’s $1,042,000 investment in the 2015 trail extension, the artery will grow as a spine for redevelopment in the Riverworks area. The next phase of creative placemaking runs from January 2015 to December 2016, expanding on the discoveries made when the trail was supported by the 2013-14 ArtPlace America grant. The RDC, Greater Milwaukee Foundation, Transform Milwaukee, and LISC have also committed additional support to this Riverworks-based initiative.

“The artery has become grounds for engaging community with the same curiosity, creativity, and craftiness that an artisan might engage a material,” said beintween founder Keith Hayes, LEED AP. “Activation of a network through landscape and site experimentation explores a deeper understanding of neighborhood, one that is creating context for social innovation and spatial iteration to promote the role of the public in space.”

Founded by beintween, the artery repurposes the former Gibson railyard into an 8-acre linear park, extending the Beerline Recreational Trail to connect Harambee, Riverwest and the industrial corridor of Riverworks. The artery engages neighbors and artists in a collaborative process to develop public space through performance-based programming and installations. By adopting and adapting resources to develop both physical and cultural landscapes, this coalition is building new access to the park and neighborhood as a public expression of equity.

“This is great news for the Riverworks area,” said Darryl Johnson, executive director of Riverworks Development Corporation. “The Kresge Foundation’s investment into this community to help support our creative placemaking efforts in the Harambee and Riverwest communities to increase the potential for community and economic development opportunities for residents who live and work in these communities can make this a model for other communities to follow.”

The work surrounding the artery intends to expand Riverworks as a live-work hub for artists, makers, community organizers and other cultural leaders, and seeks opportunities to create and grow entrepreneurial ventures in the neighborhood. The coalition will generate community asset maps of available buildings and lots, business development organizations, arts and community organizations, and independent workers; market underutilized industrial and residential space to creative workers for live-work and co-working space and for scaling production of contract manufacturing; and grow youth and adult entrepreneurship programs in collaboration with Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation and other local agencies.

HGNI will also work with neighborhood and resident organizations to create community visioning sessions, and will continue their research partnership with Marquette University’s Democracy Lab to identify best practices for increasing community-wide participation.

“Creative placemaking values the magnetism of authentic culture present in a neighborhood and explores the possibility of complementary vibrancy with new developments,” said Barry Mandel, president of Mandel Group Inc. and co-chair of the GMC’s Creative Placemaking Committee. “We will convene a leadership network versed in regional and national creative placemaking.”

In the spring, the coalition will facilitate a Strategic Actioning Session (SAS) to foster alignment with community leadership and identify core projects for development during this phase. The SAS will occur in tandem to discovery trips to other national case studies relevant to the artery and Riverworks. The SAS extends from the recent charrette process led by the RDC, City of Milwaukee, and UWM’s Community Design Solutions, which focused on potential commercial and residential redevelopment sites in relation to the artery.

“The GMC’s investment in the artery and Riverworks aligns with our organization’s work to foster local awareness of and support for creative placemaking,” said GMC president Julia Taylor. “The GMC is committed to generating an intergenerational and culturally diverse leadership network who can translate national values around creative placemaking to acknowledge existing and potential initiatives in Milwaukee.” This leadership network will advise on the development of the artery in Riverworks and be available to address other neighborhoods in the city. A key goal is to connect local independent workers in the arts and other entrepreneurial areas with economic and community development sectors.



GMC gets $724,500 from Kresge Foundation for placemaking

Published December 2, 2014
From The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

The Greater Milwaukee Committee has been awarded a $724,500 grant from the Kresge Foundation for the continuation of a placemaking project along a former rail corridor between Riverwest and Harambee called the artery.

The Kresge funds were awarded to the GMC, which is working with the group beintween, Riverworks Development Corporation, Harambee Great Neighborhood Initiative, the City of Milwaukee and artist and consultant Sara Daleiden.

It is the second significant grant for the project. Last year, ArtPlace America awarded a $350,000 grant for the artery and another art-related project along W. Wisconsin Ave.

Read the full article here.


GMC Wins $724,500 Grant to Help City

Published December 1, 2014
From Urban Milwaukee

The Greater Milwaukee Committee has won a $724,500 grant from the Kresge Foundation to combine arts installations and activities with economic development in the Riverwest and Harambee neighborhoods, GMC president Julia Taylor announced today. “It’s a very exciting opportunity for Milwaukee,” she says.

The grant builds on the $350,000 ArtPlace America grant the GMC previously won for its “Creational Trails” project, which created temporary art installations and a night market on W. Wisconsin Ave. and began development of the Artery, a one-mile long park and bicycle trail along an abandoned railroad track just north of Keefe Ave. that runs through the Riverwest and Harambee neighborhoods. About half of the $350,000 ArtPlace grant went to the Artery and the entire Kresge grant of $724,500 will go to the project, too.

“It will be used to grow the Artery and do economic development in the area as well,” Taylor says. “Especially for the Harambee neighborhood, which is one the most economically depressed areas in the city.”

In addition to all the foundation grant money, Taylor notes, “the city has invested close to $1 million for the Artery trail.”

Read the full article here.


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