Thursday, July 6, 2017

Learning Tour brings New Jersey Creative Placemakers to Morristown

By Leonardo Vazquez, AICP/PP

Creative placemakers from as far as the Jersey Shore and Brooklyn went to Morristown last week to see how arts and local culture are helping to enhance the North Jersey town.  They learned about social and economic issues in the community, toured a downtown arts festival, met local artists and community organizers, and explored a new public art project in a community that is often bypassed by visitors and residents.

It was the first Learning Tour produced by New Jersey Creative Placemakers, an initiative of The National Consortium for Creative Placemaking. 16 people attended the event, which was co-produced and led by Kadie Dempsey, the Director of  Creative Placemaking for Morris Arts.

The participants saw a film about the Gateway Totem, a National Endowment for the Arts-funded sculpture that honors the heritages of the diverse people who live or lived in the Speedwell Avenue neighborhood.

Learning Tour participants meet with local artists at the Gateway Totem
Participants also heard from Jennifer Wehring, the Executive Director of the Morristown Partnership, a downtown business organization, and Morris Arts Executive Director Tom Werder.  Morris Arts is the county arts agency for Morris County.  The participants also met with Carlos Sartelo, a local artist and community organizer who works with Morris Arts on community engagement in the diverse Speedwell Avenue neighborhood.  At the beginning and end of the tour, attendees went through Meet Me in Morristown, a monthly arts festival produced by Morris Arts in the spring and summer.

The participants also did some creative placemaking planning.  They stopped at a vacant building and lot and brainstormed possible strategies for the site.  After the tour ended, several of the participants enjoyed drinks at Tashmoo, a local pub.

The event was covered by Morristown Green, a local news organization. See the article.

Future tours are being planned for September through November 2017.  They will be in the Valley Arts District (Orange and West Orange), Hackensack, Rahway, and Hammonton. To learn more or get updates, sign up for the NCCP newsletter, like NCCP on Facebook or follow NCCP on Twitter.

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