Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Creative Glassboro team produces vision plan for creative placemaking

By Leonardo Vazquez, AICP/PP

Glassboro, NJ, home of Rowan University, is a fast-growing town on the outskirts of the Philadelphia region.  It's a culturally diverse post-industrial mix of college town and exurb that had recently been the center of a largely rural county.  There's been a lot of 'eds and meds' development (that is, university and hospital). How does Glassboro welcome newcomers -- and longtimers who might have felt left out -- while preserving its distinct heritages and stories?

Creative Glassboro is exploring this question and more through its new Vision Plan and tactical urbanism projects. You can learn more about the plan here or join the team for a community celebration:  December 6, 5:30 to 7:30 pm, Rowan University Art Gallery, 301 High Street West, Glassboro.

Creative Glassboro began in 2015 with community visioning. Credit: Creative Glassboro
The Vision Plan calls for growing a more inclusive and greener Glassboro that honors its diverse heritages through arts and cultural activities.  The team is now involved in its first major project from the plan:  yarnbombing and intergenerational knitting activities.

To create the Vision Plan, Creative Glassboro engaged in Community Coaching, an NCCP program that has built creative placemaking plans and leadership teams in 16 communities in Louisiana and New Jersey. You can learn more about Community Coaching at an upcoming information session. 

For more information on Community Coaching, please contact Leonardo Vazquez, Executive Director, The National Consortium for Creative Placemaking by email or at 973-763-6352.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

2016 Knowledge Exchange worth the trip for creative placemakers

By Leonardo Vazquez, AICP/PP

As Executive Director of The Mortimer & Mimi Levitt Foundation, which supports free outdoor music around the United States, Sharon Yazowski is a busy person.  But even though she was speaking on stage for only seven minutes, it was worth her time to travel five hours from Los Angeles to Newark, NJ for the Creative Placemaking Knowledge Exchange.

“This was my first time participating in CPKE and I found it extremely valuable—the formats for sharing outcomes, experiences, and insights were conducive to maximizing the collective knowledge of attendees.  It was wonderful to connect with others in the field and learn about their impactful work, while also having fluid discussions throughout the day about the challenges many of us are trying to address through our creative placemaking efforts.”

Newark Museum's Steven Kern speaking
Ms. Yazowski wasn't the only long-distance traveler to The Art of Healthy Communities: the second annual Creative Placemaking Knowledge Exchange,  Among the 125 people who attended the November 11 event were visitors from throughout the US and as far away as Canada and Australia.

The event, produced by The National Consortium for Creative Placemaking and PlanSmart NJ, at the New Jersey Institute of Technology featured talks and community conversations on six topics in creative placemaking.

Many of them touched on the key theme of creative placemaking and public health. After lunch, participants learned about Voices of Valora music that serves veterans with PTSD, and heard songs composed by vets and musicians.  Brian F. Dallow, the Executive Director of Music for All Seasons, which created Voices of Valor, was the lunchtime speaker.  In the afternoon, participants led conversations on topics that they offered and selected themselves.

"I very much enjoyed the Knowledge Exchange and thought it was worth traveling for," said Clay Frickey, a City Planner for the City of Fort Collins, CO.  Mr. Frickey was also a presenter. "It is really nice seeing what other municipalities are up against and the Knowledge Exchange is a great way to make connections to discuss these issues."

Other participants enjoyed it too. A participant satisfaction survey shows:

  • 99% said the conference was informative.
  • 95% said they enjoyed the conference.
  • 92% said they would attend the Knowledge Exchange again.
  • 88% said the Knowledge Exchange was as good as or better than other academic or 'big idea' conferences they have attended.
  • 86% said there was enough time for networking.
  • 83% said they would recommend the Knowledge Exchange to others.
  • 83% said there was enough time for conversations.
  • Everyone who participated in Open Space conversations found them informative and enjoyable.*

"I was truly inspired by the conversations and presentations and am looking forward to expanding my network through the new contacts that I met and conversations that I started," said Melanie Stewart, Associate Dean and Professor of Theatre and Dance at Rowan University's College of Performing Arts. She also co-chairs Creative Glassboro (NJ).

"I was especially impressed by the international interest and concern for healing communities especially now in a context where we really need to come together as a country.  I hope that our work will have real impact in achieving a healthier path forward."

The morning presentations covered these topics:
  • Community building
  • Research, evaluation and outcomes
  • Healthy aging
  • Youth health and engagement
  • Dance, performance and community
  • Healthy creative partnerships
Knowledge Exchange participants are encouraged to share their
insights and experiences
Each presenter spoke for seven minutes, and there was about a half-hour of peer exchange conversation.  Participants asked questions or spoke about their own experiences, adding their insights to those of the formal presenters.

In the Open Space portion of the convening, eventgoers talked about such things as community engagement, creative placemaking and community development during the Trump administration, language in and as space, gentrification, and how to maintain the knowledge sharing after the event.

"My favorite component of the event was the open sessions at the end," Mr. Frickey said. "While mine was the least explicitly 'placemaking' focused conversation, we had a nice discussion with divergent opinions that have stuck with me since the Knowledge Exchange.  It's always nice talking with people about things they are passionate about in a less structured format."

The 2016 Knowledge Exchange was sponsored by New Jersey Health Initiatives, Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation,  Atlantic Health System, American Planning Association New Jersey chapter, Montclair State University, and Shelterforce magazine.  ArtPride NJ, South Jersey Cultural Alliance and the Northern New Jersey Community Foundation partnered in promoting the event.  Additional support came from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts Our Town program. 

NCCP will hold its next conference -- the Creative Placemaking Leadership Summit -- on May 5, 2017 at the New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark, NJ.  To get updates on the Leadership Summit, join the NCCP mailing list.

Participants choose what they want to talk about in the Open Space portion
of the Creative Placemaking Knowledge Exchange

*24 respondents completed the survey.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Great reasons to go to The Art of Healthy Communities: the 2nd annual Creative Placemaking Knowledge Exchange

By Leonardo Vazquez, AICP/PP

We know you're busy.  We know you have a lot of choices for events this fall. But here are 11 reasons why it's worth it to attend the Creative Placemaking Knowledge Exchange, November 11, in Newark, NJ.

  • Get useful, practical knowledge.  You can get insights from expert practitioners and scholars on six key topics: community building; research, evaluation and outcomes; healthy aging; youth health and engagement; dance, performance and community; and healthy creative partnerships.  Speakers are coming from around the United States, as well as Canada and Australia, to share their knowledge.  By the way, the people attending are very smart too.  You can learn a lot from them.
  • Make great connections.  The Knowledge Exchange is attracting senior leaders and key influencers from the fields of grantmaking, community and economic development, public health, urban development, arts, and more. You'll probably meet someone who can help you in your work or your career. See who else is going to the Knowledge Exchange.
  • Plenty of time for networking. We know that conferences are not just for learning.  So we are providing plenty of breaks and long lunch so you have time to build your connections.  Bring plenty of business cards.
  • Explore your own ideas.  Do you prefer those conferences with talking heads talking endlessly?  Neither do we. That's why every presentation is no more than seven minutes long, and each topic includes 30 minutes of conversation between audience members and presenters. In the afternoon Open Space sessions, you can lead group discussions on topics you choose. These are good ways to get feedback on some of your ideas.
  • Learn about a great program for veterans with PTSD. In honor of Veterans Day, learn about Voices of Valor, a program that helps vets heal through music and songwriting. You'll also hear some of the songs composed by the vets.
  • Learn how creative placemaking can help build healthier communities. You probably know how the arts can make places more enjoyable. But the arts have even more power, and creative placemakers can guide that energy to improve the mental and physical health of residents.  Learn how from presenters and other attendees.
  • Planners: get continuing education credit.  The Knowledge Exchange has been approved for six AICP Certification Maintenance credits.
  • It's a good value.  If this were a television commercial, this would be the 'But wait' moment. The Knowledge Exchange is a good value at $150.  But as an NCCP subscriber, you get 25% off.  Your ticket is only $112.50.  Use discount code: NCCP10

    But wait! If you're a friend of any NCCP board member, or a member of any of these groups, you get even bigger discounts:  ArtPride New Jersey, Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey, Newark Arts Council, American Planning Association New Jersey chapter.

    If you're a retiree, a solo artist, or are part of a small community-based organization (with the less than 3 employees), we have a limited number of seats for $50 each. Use the discount code: community.   Please: If you or your organization can afford to pay more, please leave these community seats for someone else.
  • You're helping a good cause.  100% of the proceeds from the Knowledge Exchange will go to support The National Consortium for Creative Placemaking.  This will help us support your work with free and low-cost learning events, and advocating for creative placemakers throughout the United States.
  • Enjoy yourself at the event. There's dancing, art and food.  Seriously. In one session, everyone will be invited to join in a dance.  There will be an art exhibit (including interactive art) at the conference from 12 to 7 pm. You'll get breakfast and lunch, and snacks for the after-conference art exhibit.  You can relax and enjoy yourself while you're learning.
  • Enjoy yourself afterward.  Newark is only 20 minutes by train from New York City. Newark itself is a good place to explore: great Portuguese, Brazilian and Spanish food in the Ironbound neighborhood.  Want to see an emerging arts district? Check out the Halsey Street area near the school.  And if you're a Springsteen fan, take the train down to Asbury Park and visit one of the coolest towns in New Jersey.