Creative Placemaking

‘Creational Trails: September Update

The core concept for ‘Creational Trails has evolved into a framework for integrating creativity to connect people to spaces.  In the past month, we’ve untangled the connection of ‘art’ and its ‘place’ in ‘making.’  We are refining a process to define art to include the role of culture and social experience in shaping spaces, ultimately connecting people, which in turn yields place.   This process focuses the intangible art of community. 

After hosting a series of neighborhood events over the summer and interfacing with the Mayor and various municipal entities in Milwaukee, strong partnerships are in place for the short-term activation of these spaces and the long-term creative economic vitality as a result of this people-centric process.  Installations in the practice of the ‘place-making’ theory have increased curiosity and generated significant enthusiasm for identity of place.   

Beintween and Art Milwaukee, in cooperation with the Greater Milwaukee Committee and cultural geographer Sara Daleiden, have set forth requests for proposals and curated a panel of advisors/jurors that reflect the two distinct spaces and how to strategically incorporate not only painters and sculptors, but designers and farmers, fabricators and community engagers, writers and performers.  These calls will be released in October. 

Fortunately, Milwaukee is a town full of makers; we have realized that our goal for ‘Creational Trails is to collect a series of cultural makers who can creatively connect within these collaborative spaces.   As such, an inclusive array of artists and artisans will be invited to submit proposals to both open calls as well as commissioned community pieces of ‘art’ working to set the stage for the social production of place. 

3 major wins:

  • Development of an overarching website for tracking indicators called ‘Creational Trails, which will provide insight for the transformation of space to place, creating a navigational recipe for the cultural production in the City of Milwaukee for neighborhood enhancement, engagement, and empowerment.
  • City of Milwaukee deploys $784K towards acquisition of 8 acres of the privately owned rail corridor and 2/3 mile extension of the Beerline recreational trail for 2/3 mile at the artery in Summer 2014.
  •  The creation of an open-sourced community building approach to the standard RFP process called Tounavation. Tournavation is a  tournament for innovated ideas that takes an crowd sourcing approach to the public and allows the top 10 finalists to pitch live on stage in City Hall. Tournavation can become a brand standard for open sourced community involvement. By using a branding approach to the RFP process it allows for more interest, attention and participation. Tournavation will allow the community to gather around and participate in a social event to discuss ideas, art, place-making and watch the 10 finalists present their vision. Finalists will be selected by a juried panel and guests will be invited to text their choice which will be revealed at the event.

 

Communal installation of bicycle inner tubes woven into chainlink fence at the artery, reflecting the imaginative eyes of a neighborhood kid.

Prowess of process: Nothing is as critical to the generation of place-making as process; hands-on site activities spawn collaboration formulaic to the bonding of people and space.  That said, there is a prowess to engaging a community.  We have discovered how eager youth are towards the act of making, and the fundamental experience that comes from working with people from not only different backgrounds and skill sets, but the inter-generational dynamic integral to a neighborhood and its identity.

‘Creational Trails: The Right Time for West Wisconsin Avenue

‘Creational Trails is a network of improv(is)ed spaces, projecting identity through light and sound to activate spaces as a means of breaking down barriers in Milwaukee. The trails will activate two linear pathways to connect neighborhoods that are divided by physical, racial and economic barriers by installing interactive light and sound art pieces in residual spaces, turning them into safe, walkable and bikeable destinations. ‘Creational Trails also seeks to provide amenities such as bike lanes, cafe seating, edible landscaping, pop-up businesses and lighting.

 

The Right Time for West Wisconsin Avenue

West Wisconsin Avenue: The Wisconsin Convention Center

West Wisconsin Avenue: The Wisconsin Convention Center

 West Wisconsin Ave: The Grand Avenue Mall

West Wisconsin Ave: The Grand Avenue Mall

Just over two years ago, Mayor Tom Barrett assembled a task force to galvanize the revitalization of West Wisconsin Avenue. Over the decades, the major thoroughfare of downtown Milwaukee has fallen into disrepair with respect to its original purpose as a primary retail district for the city.

Strategy Session: Large group brainstorming in action!

Strategy Session: Large group brainstorming in action!

Strategy session

Supported by the ArtPlace grant, members of this task force, along with other key stakeholders from the area, met for a two-day strategic planning session in June. The group left with several long- and short-term plans for the redevelopment of West Wisconsin Avenue. Most importantly and surprisingly, the task force realized that the gaps in development that exist on the street are simply pockets of potential for what the future of this city holds.

The ArtPlace grant and the initiation of the ‘Creational Trails Project was well-timed with respect to several of the takeaways from the two-day session, including the need to reactivate the space through artist involvement, increase in vibrancy and accessibility to the community. With a newly activated group of core constituents from the avenue, the launch of the public art request for proposals and plans for the community events in the coming year were enthusiastically accepted and encouraged by the larger group. We hope to capitalize on this support as we formalize our plans for the Avenue.

 

As the planning process continues for ‘Creational Trails, the neighborhood is ready and waiting for the use of a creative placemaking approach to reignite the long-troubled and beloved West Wisconsin Avenue.

 

‘Creational Trails Update

‘Creational Trails

‘Creational Trails is a network of improv(is)ed spaces projecting identity through light and sound to activate spaces as a means of breaking down barriers in Milwaukee. The trails will activate two linear pathways to connect neighborhoods that are divided by physical, racial and economic barriers by installing interactive light and sound art pieces in residual spaces, turning them into safe, walkable and bikeable destinations. ‘Creational Trails also seeks to provide amenities such as bike lanes, cafe seating, edible landscaping, pop-up businesses and lighting.

Update and a new partnership

We continue to “live” in the planning stages for our project, but all the pieces are slowly coming together!  The team has been a part of conversations with the City and other key partners in order to begin laying down the foundation to make the project successful. One of the key pieces we have identified has been a partnership with arts advocate and consultant, Sara Daleiden, who we are thrilled to have joining the ‘Creational Trails team.

Based both in Milwaukee and Los Angeles, Daleiden, through her agency s(o)ul, focuses on cultural production and exchange through the creation of social interactions in developing landscapes. With a background in arts, education, and advocacy, Sara will help us to navigate the relationships and spaces around each of the trail sites, along with assisting in the curation of the art pieces to be featured on the trails. A definite “win” in our books!

Daleiden had the opportunity to visit the Artery and West Wisconsin Ave this week, so we decided to sit down with her get some of her initial thoughts on the project and its two unique sites. Here is Daleiden’s first impression:

“Let’s start with West Wisconsin Ave, an eclectic space with a lot of history of development and many layering pockets of success. I want us to think about what we can do to help create a flow throughout downtown by utilizing what already exists and giving it meaning. We can focus on perforating the spine of this main street to consider connections to other nearby cultural assets…

Image via Sean Ryan, BizJournal

The Artery is a tunnel of a different form; its urban nature, a wild space that is a product of industry transportation. I love the history of the Beerline and what it meant for Milwaukee. Ultimately, there are sensitive social conditions in the neighborhoods surrounding the Artery that will take careful thought in how we suggest to use the space.


left image: Heather Hall; right image: flickr itrsports

We have the opportunity to model how the city can invest in what it hasn’t always known how to; creating a partnership to continue to activate spaces throughout the community….”

Next Steps

On July 15th, we are hosting our first information session for the creative arts community of Milwaukee. We hope to get their feedback on our initial ideas for place-making along the two sites. Their feedback will help to guide the team as we develop a process for selection, production, and installment of the temporary artwork. At the core of ‘Creational Trails is community. Although each site has its own unique identity, we believe in continuing to make this project a collaborative effort.

Civic leaders push Wisconsin Avenue plan

From The Business Journal Serving Greater Milwaukee
Published July 5, 2013

Many of Milwaukee’s civic and political leaders were out of range for two days last week as they brainstormed ideas and action steps for the struggling West Wisconsin Avenue downtown.

And while participants aren’t revealing many details of what was discussed, several said it was a productive session that could result in real change for the neighborhood.

The event was organized by the West Wisconsin Avenue Workgroup appointed by Mayor Tom Barrett and led by Milwaukee attorney Stephen Chernof. The group privately raised more than $100,000, less than it originally planned to spend, to hire consulting firm Marble Leadership Partners Inc., Chicago.

“Wisconsin Avenue is sort of like a living room in some ways to the city,” said Julia Taylor, president of the Greater Milwaukee Committee. “How do we make sure that our living room is inviting as possible?”

For the full article, please click here.

 

‘Creational Trails: Introduction

‘Creational Trails: A Placemaking Experience in Milwaukee

With a nod to the many gorgeous recreational trails throughout Milwaukee, our project ‘Creational Trails creates a network of improv(is)ed spaces, projecting identity through light and sound to activate spaces as a means of breaking down barriers in Milwaukee.

Milwaukee is one of the most racially segregated cities in the country. In the predominantly African-American area of Harambee, some residents need to go down a steep foot path and then cross six lanes of traffic to reach the Riverworks Center retail area, which is a more Caucasian and successful middle-class neighborhood.

The Artery, a two-thirds of a mile linear trail connecting the Riverworks Center to Harambee, is home to an abandoned rail corridor that today is used as a dumping site for construction debris, auto tires and old televisions.

West Wisconsin Avenue in downtown Milwaukee is a strip in the heart of the city that serves three communities with little interaction: business professionals commuting downtown for work, downtown and central city residents, and students from Marquette University who rarely venture east of their campus. The neighborhood’s woes are a problem for the entire region as Milwaukee tries to attract more business, conventions and visitors and create perceptions about safety and vibrancy. The Delta Center is the city’s main convention facility on West Wisconsin Avenue and many of the downtown hotels and entertainment facilities are concentrated nearby.

Our project ‘Creational Trails will activate these two linear pathways to connect neighborhoods that are divided by physical, racial and economic barriers by installing interactive light and sound art pieces in residual spaces, turning them into safe, walkable and bikeable destinations. ‘Creational Trails also seeks to provide amenities such as bike lanes, cafe seating, edible landscaping, pop-up businesses and lighting.

The project will be led by us, Greater Milwaukee Committee’s MiKE initiative, and managed by local organizations, Art Milwaukee and Beintween. We are also working closely with Riverworks Development Corporation, the City of Milwaukee, the West Wisconsin Avenue Task Force and dozens of other community leaders.

To kick-off the project, we held a press conference in May to announce the ArtPlace America award and present the ‘Creational Trails project to the larger community for the first time.

Mayor Tom Barrett weighed in on the importance of this project stating, “Creating flourishing places has the potential to generate additional innovation and economic activity, which broadly benefits the entire community…this project will be a real catalyst to energize many of the existing initiatives in these two locations.”

For more, check out the ‘Creational Trails ArtPlace blog here: http://www.artplaceamerica.org/articles/creational-trails/

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