Tuesday, August 4, 2015

2016 studio course seeking clients for creative placemaking

By Leonardo Vazquez, AICP/PP

Urban design and landscape architecture -- that is, the shaping of design of outdoor spaces -- can make a big impact on your creative placemaking efforts.

If you are interested in free or low-cost landscape architecture or urban design strategies, please consider becoming a client for an upcoming studio course of the Rutgers University Landscape Architecture program.  The course runs from January through May 2016, and this offer is available to communities within 90 minutes of travel to New Brunswick, NJ.

Free urban design support will be available to several communities that begin community coaching by January 2016.  Community coaching is a unique 6-9 month program that helps communities build sustainable plans and leadership for creative placemaking. Through this program, Creative Teams in New Jersey and Louisiana have developed several projects, changed local laws, attracted new investment, and created new partnerships.

The communities will receive support on a first come-first served basis. The number of clients depends on the number of students in the course.

Communities that want other landscape architecture or urban design services can receive them for a reasonable fee.

Please note that while students in the studio course will be expected to respond to their clients' requests and interests, they will be given the freedom to present their ideas as they see fit. Clients can get additional services after the studio course for a reasonable fee.

To learn more about this opportunity, please contact the studio course instructor, NCCP Executive Director Leonardo Vazquez.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Creative Placemaking Knowledge Exchange a success

By Leonardo Vazquez, AICP/PP

Nearly 50 creative placemakers from the world of arts, government and community affairs came to the first ever Creative Placemaking Knowledge Exchange to share their insights.  Intended to be a creative take on a scholarly conference, the event let participants explore the latest thinking in a new field that explores how best to make places better through arts and culture.

They gathered June 26 at the Rutgers University School of Public Affairs and Administration (SPAA) in Newark, NJ.

Amira Badran, a recent graduate of the
Certification in Creative Placemaking program,
shares her proposal for reinventing a public
square in Cairo, Egypt.
In the morning, participants listened to a dozen presentations from a variety of scholars and practitioners from the United States and Egypt.  Among the presenters were graduates of the Certification in Creative Placemaking program.

Presenters explored a wide range of topics, from defining and measuring creative placemaking to the impacts of current initiatives.  Learn more about the presentations and see some of the presentation slides.

After lunch, participants toured the future home of Express Newark, a new arts center being developed by Rutgers University in the old Hahne & Co. building in downtown Newark.

Then they shared ideas in an Open Space conversation. Open Space lets participants choose and lead their own discussion topics.

Surveys after the event show that 100% of attendees found the conference informative and 95% found it enjoyable.  100% of respondents who participated in the Open Space conversations found it informative and enjoyable.  81% enjoyed and learned a lot in the walking tour.  85% said there was enough time for networking.

The event was produced by The National Consortium for Creative Placemaking, in partnership with SPAA, The Ohio State University City and Regional Planning program, and the Rutgers University Newark Department of Arts, Culture and Media.  Several organizations sponsored the event, including the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, New Jersey Health Initiatives, New Jersey State Council on the Arts, Northern New Jersey Community Foundation, the Rutgers Newark Department of Arts, Culture and Media, and  the Ohio State University City and Regional Planning program. SPAA donated the building and staff time to support the program.
Creative Placemaking Knowledge Exchange participants in an
Open Space conversation









Saturday, June 6, 2015

Hackensack Creative Team seeking artists for its first public art project


Artists in Hackensack will be turning wooden construction boards covering a burned out building along Main Street into public art.  It is the first project of the new Hackensack Creative Team, a partnership of local merchants, artists and residents.  The partnership is sponsored by the Upper Main Street Alliance, which is working with ArtsBergen to produce the murals.

The themes of the murals will be a vision for a more vibrant, cleaner, greener and healthier Hackensack and the rich cultural history in the city.
ArtsBergen, an initiative of the Northern New Jersey Community Foundation, this week put out a call  for five artists to work collaboratively on the project, at 76 MainStreet. 

The project, which is funded by the Upper Main Street Alliance, will be the first one of the Hackensack Creative Team. The Hackensack Creative Team is a group of 40 artists, merchants, organizational leaders and public officials working on a creative placemaking plan for the City of Hackensack. Creative placemaking is the integration of arts and culture into a neighborhood, town, or region to build community and livability and boost local economy. The Creative Team has identified a number of projects that will move forward the Creative Vision Statement it has drafted with the input of various members and sectors of the community. This mural is one such project.
The team is being coached by the National Consortium for Creative Placemaking of Union, NJ.

The project goal is to create a mural that will beautify the neighborhood and property site, engage passers-by, and act as a beacon of the City and the Upper Main Street Alliance’s endorsement of arts and culture as a powerful tool to transform, connect, and serve communities. 

The mural will be painted on 35 connected panels of OSB plywood surrounding the perimeter of the building at 76 Main Street in Hackensack. The mural will be up at the site temporarily (potentially 2 years), but the panels can be used again for other redevelopment sites. The location of the mural is a gateway into the downtown area and is on a busy street, travelled by motorists, cyclists and pedestrians. 

A total of 5 artists will be selected. One will be selected to serve as the lead artist, who will oversee the collaboration and cohesion of the mural. Each artist/artist team will be assigned approximately 6-7 panels (each measuring 8 ft(h) x 4 ft(w)) to design and paint his/her vision. 

The content of the mural will reflect the artistic and cultural history, present,  and future of Hackensack. Content can include the depiction of significant past events/artists, musicians, current arts assets/happenings, and/or an interpretation of the future “Creative Vision Statement”. The incorporation of participatory elements that engage the public is encouraged. The design may be painted directly on the boards onsite, or on panels painted offsite that the artist would be responsible for mounting. The Upper Main Street Alliance has allocated a $1,000 budget for supplies and materials for the entire project in addition to $1000 per artist. Total project allocation is $6000. The estimated completion of the project is August 2015.

To learn more about the Hackensack Creative Team, go to: https://www.facebook.com/CreativeHackensack

To learn more about Upper Main Street Alliance, go to: http://uppermain.org/

To learn more about ArtsBergen, and the Northern New Jersey Community Foundation go to: http://www.nnjcf.org/what-we-do/artsbergen/

To learn more about The National Consortium for Creative Placemaking go to: www.artsbuildcommunities.com


Friday, May 29, 2015

Agenda and presentations for 2015 Creative Placemaking Knowledge Exchange

Here is the preliminary agenda for the 2015 Creative Placemaking Knowledge Exchange, to be held June 26 at the Rutgers University School of Public Affairs and Administration in Newark, NJ.

8:30 to 9 am:  Registration
9 to 9:20 am:  Welcome and introductory remarks
9:20 to 9:30 am: Break
9:30 to 11:50 am: Presentations on creative placemaking
11:50 am to 12 pm: Break
12 to 12:45 pm:  Lunch and honoring of Certification in Creative Placemaking program graduates
12:45 to 1:20 pm:  Walking tour of new art center and adaptive reuse in downtown Newark
1:20 to 1:30 pm :  Break
1:30 to 3:50 pm:  Open space (peer guided and facilitated conversations)
3:50 to 4 pm:  Goodbyes

Here is the most updated list of presentations for the morning sessions:


  • Arts as the driver for innovative, award-winning cultural, economic and community transformation: Shreveport Common, Wendy Benscoter, Shreveport Common and Certification in Creative Placemaking program. Ohio State University
  • Measuring what matters: debating standardized outcome metrics for creative placemaking projects, Larry Bomback, Cultural Data Project
  • Creating the space to talk about place: creative placemaking in the arts management classroom, Brea Heidelberg, Rider University
  • Skateboarding and sewing help spark revitalization in Camden, New Jersey, Kate Dowd, Drexel University
  • The Empty House Studio, Sarah Coffin D'Alessandro, George Mason University
  • Placemaking via community design: planning for green stormwater infrastructure, Jason Hachadorian, Temple University's Center for Sustainable Communities
  • Definitions of creative placemaking: a PechaKucha literature review (A PKLR), Julie Hawkins, Drexel University
  • A capabilities approach to creative placemaking in West Philadelphia, Andrew Zitcer, Drexel University
  • The entrepreneurial creative placemaker in the public sector, Debra Rose, City of Pinellas Park, Florida and Certification in Creative Placemaking program, Ohio State University
  • The growth of freelance artists in New Jersey: implications for community and local economic development, Leonardo Vazquez, The National Consortium for Creative Placemaking and Certification in Creative Placemaking program, Ohio State University


Register or learn more

Submit a proposal for a presentation


Thursday, May 21, 2015

Join us for the 2015 Creative Placemaking Knowledge Exchange



NCCP building a community of creative placemakers in New Jersey

By Leonardo Vazquez, AICP/PP

There are at least 46 teams doing creative placemaking in New Jersey -- as well as many people who are not part of identified teams. The National Consortium for Creative Placemaking is working to bring creative teams and creative placemakers together to build a supportive, learning community of practice.

On May 13, we and Monmouth Arts held the first Creative Team Roundtable at the Oyster Point Hotel in Red Bank, NJ.  Eighteen people from seven communities came together to explore key questions and share ideas for creative placemaking.

The two key issues the participants explored were:

  • What are the best ways to engage landlords and property owners to help move public art projects forward?
  • How to bring community strength to our region via creative placemaking?
The questions were chosen by participants from among 12 that were suggested by the 30 people who registered for the event.


Participants at the Creative Team Roundtable in Red Bank, May 13
Some of the recommendations for working with landlords and property owners are to:

  • Partner with local governments and special improvement districts
  • Encourage local governments to provide incentives to property owners
  • Make a financial case (such as the number of visitors that could be drawn to a work of public art, or that art can help improve blighted areas)
  • Make the process fun, and ensure that property owners are clear on their rights, and clarify what would happen if the property gets sold. (Putting wall art on frames can make it easier to move it off-site)
Recommendations for bringing community strength through creative placemaking include:

  • Get government involved early on.  While artists may want to start the process of creative placemaking, the efforts are strengthened if government officials are involved at the start
  • Create a central space for arts and creative people to come together
  • Be clear about the community you want to serve and what its identity is or should be
  • Build on existing strengths in the community
  • Provide opportunities for entrepreneurship
NCCP will be conducting another Creative Team Roundtable in Fall 2015, and offers other opportunities for creative placemakers to learn from one another.  On June 26, in partnership with Rutgers University School of Public Affairs and Administration, Rutgers University-Newark Department of Arts, Culture and Media and Ohio State University, NCCP is hosting the Creative Placemaking Knowledge Exchange.  NCCP is also developing additional programs and opportunities for those interested in creative placemaking to come together.

To learn more or get updates on upcoming events, please follow NCCP on Facebook or Twitter or subscribe to our newsletter.


Creative teams finding success through community coaching

By Leonardo Vazquez, AICP/PP

Several creative teams coached by The National Consortium for Creative Placemaking are already getting results.  Perth Amboy, Hackensack and Long Beach Island -- three New Jersey communities that have been involved in the community coaching program -- all have creative events scheduled for May and June.

The Perth Amboy Creative Team has succeeded in building a city Arts Council and changing a local law to make it legal to paint murals.  The Arts Council -- whose members are made up mostly of Creative Team members -- is now managing the city's art gallery and producing a waterfront festival on May 23.

Perth Amboy Arts Council members and artist Tom Ward show off Ward's artwork,
 which will be for sale at the waterfront festival. Image courtesy of Perth Amboy Arts Council
The festival furthers two key elements of the team's creative placemaking plan -- encourage more residents and visitors to enjoy the Perth Amboy waterfront and promote the wealth of local talent in the city.  According to the Council, "60 artists and artisans will display, demonstrate and sell their works along the scenic waterfront. Six musical acts will grace the festival stage. A food court will feature local restaurants and outrageous food trucks. There will be a pig roast!"

On May 28, Creative Hackensack will be sharing its vision for making the North Jersey city a better place through arts and culture: "Over the next decade, Hackensack will be more walkable, safer, healthier, greener, cleaner and more fun. Residents and visitors will have lots of choices of activities and find it easier to get around.  Over time, Hackensack will feature new attractions and attributes that will target its diverse population and visitors.

Hackensack will continue to be unique and eclectic; a diverse, inclusive and affordable place where people are friendly and have a strong sense of pride in their community.  Hackensack will do more to honor its diverse histories, from the time of the Lenni Lenape through the colonial period to today.  But it will also be modern and futuristic.

It will be a more vibrant, engaging and human-scaled city that offers good experiences day and night for families, college students, young adults (or mature adults who are young at heart).  Hackensack residents and visitors will have stronger connections to the Hackensack River."

Members of Howdy Stranger, one of several organizations involved in Creative Hackensack.
 Image courtesy of Howdy Stranger and Creative Hackensack.
To hear more about the vision and how it can be realized, please join a public meeting at 6:30 at the Johnson Public Library before an open mic night.  The open mic night was developed by a partnership between the local improv group Howdy Stranger and the Johnson Public Library.  This partnership happened because both organizations are involved with community coaching. 

Like many communities, Long Beach Island has more creative people and artists than many people realize.  The Creative Arts Action Council -- an island-wide creative placemaking group -- was formed in 2014 and will be producing an artists' studio tour on June 27 and June 28.  More than 120 artists are now involved with CAAC, and Long Beach Township received points through Sustainable Jersey for its involvement in developing the council. 

Community coaching is a unique program of NCCP proven to help build sustainable partnerships for creative placemaking. Diverse teams of at least 12 people work together for six to nine months on a creative placemaking plan and projects to help realize the plan.  (The plan is a set of strategies to address social and economic issues in the community through arts and cultural activities.)

NCCP has provided community coaching to 15 communities in New Jersey and Louisiana. Community coaching is available to individual communities within two hours of Newark, NJ.  We can also provide community coaching to a set of five or more communities in the same state anywhere in the United States.

For more on community coaching, please contact NCCP Executive Director Leonardo Vazquez by email or by phone at 973-763-6352