Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Certificate in Creative Placemakers helps students see the bigger picture

By Leonardo Vazquez, AICP/PP

Erica Ruben-Hadzic, a New Yorker who designs events and programs for nightclubs, joined the Certificate program because she wanted to “update my knowledge of current trends and best practices for bringing the arts into neighborhoods.”

She got a lot more.

“What I didn't expect, is how the Creative Placemaking program is turning my perspective around,” said Erica, who has been an Executive Producer for the prestigious Summer Stage in Central Park. 

“As a producer and curator, it is fascinating to learn about the process of building creative concepts through the history, voices, and success stories of a community. In some respects this course is challenging my notion of the producer/curator as the final taste maker.  Rather, I'm starting to better see that the very livelihood of a creative project in a community has so much more to do with the process of conceiving it there in the first place.

Erica is one of 14 students from nine states in the initial class of the Certificate in Creative Placemaking, a program developed by The National Consortium for Creative Placemaking and New Hampshire Institute of Art.

Students working on ideas during the residency
of the Certificate program. Image by Chris Archer
Between August 2017 and June 2018, the students will explore critical issues in creative placemaking.  They include community development, local economic development, qualitative and quantitative analysis, site planning, destination marketing, and alliance building. They also will develop their skills in collaborative leadership.  The program is mostly online.  Students met for a three -day residency in August, and are encouraged to share their work at an upcoming Creative Placemaking Leadership Summit offered by NCCP.

“The certificate has been a very fun and engaging way to explore the field,” said Ximena Bejarano, of Oakland, CA “and has really jumpstarted my own creativity in regard to how we might help shape the communities we live in. As someone without a background in planning, I feel that everyone's input is valued and I can draw on others in my cohort for their knowledge and experience.” 
Ximena, who works for Net Impact, a nonprofit that mobilizes young people to use their careers to lead social and environmental change, came to the program to “gain some tools that I could apply to my current work and that might help me bring placemaking into the work of the organization.”

Students are already using what they are learning in class.

Amy Regan, a founder of the Rochester (NH) Museum of Fine Art, used a public engagement technique she learned during the residency to explore how participants at a Pride festival felt about Rochester.

Manchester (NH) Philanthropist Liz Hitchcock is working on purchasing an old theater and club to turn into a community-oriented venue and performance space. 

Instructor Tom Borrup teaching students during the
residency.  Image: Chris Archer
Liz said, “I've gotten so much from the program already -- the ability to have the residency and meet all of the  classmates at the beginning of the program, helped me get a feel for the different problems other communities are seeing and some of the unique solutions that they have created.”

Amy, Liz, Ximena and Erica are trading ideas and learning with a diverse class of fellow students:

  • ·        Lindsey Danhauser is a Senior Program Supervisor for Art and Recreation Services for Eden Prairie (MN).
  • ·         Christa Drew, of Boxborough, MA is a Consultant for DAISA Enterprises, which provides business and initiative strategic planning, capacity building and evaluation services.
  • ·         Jodie Levandowski is a Planner for Manchester (NH).
  • ·         Emily Marks is an artist, curator and producer to youth audiences in Memphis (TN).
  • ·         Glenn Michalowski is a Program Administrator for a regional para-transit service based in Pequannock (NJ) and a liaison to the town’s Economic Development Committee.
  • ·         Kristin Stayer is the Executive Director for Park Place Community Center in Anderson (IL)
  • ·         John Sullivan, a science teacher in New York City, is on the Board of Bike and Walk Montclair (NJ)
  • ·         Lynn Thomson is the Manager of Community Education and Museum Outreach for the Currier Museum in Manchester (NH)
  • ·         Carly White is a Graphic Designer for THENDESIGN ARCHITECTURE in Cleveland (OH)
  • ·         Bob White is a landscape architect based in Portsmouth (NH)

“The course is rigorous and goes deep into how we define a community as well,” Erica said. “The teachers in this program share their heart-felt level of consciousness that is so encouraging to those of us who come at this program with a passion for our creative communities.”

Next year’s program will begin shortly after Labor Day 2018, and run until June 2019.  Registration for the 2018 program will open in January, and there will be monthly information sessions from January through July.  To learn more about the program, and sign up for updates, please visit http://www.nhia.edu/creativeplacemaking or contact Leonardo Vazquez, Program Director, at leonardovazquez@nhia.edu or 973-763-6352, x1

Monday, October 16, 2017

Want more hands-on experience with creative placemaking? Join an NCCP Strategy Lab

By Leonardo Vazquez, AICP/PP

Conferences, webinars and walking tours are great for learning about creative placemaking.  But sometimes you want to roll up your sleeves and just get to it. 

That's why The National Consortium for Creative Placemaking now offers Strategy Labs.  In a Strategy Lab, you work on a real creative placemaking project for a real client.  They run from 90 minutes to two days.

The first Strategy Lab will be Thursday, October 19, from 4:30 to 7 in Hackensack.  We'll explore ways to activate Demarest Street, an underused pedestrian path that runs from the local bus station, across Main Street, and to the parking garage near the city's new performing arts center.  We'll work in partnership with the client -- the Hackensack Creative Arts Team -- and ArtsBergen's Connect the Dots program.  ArtsBergen is an initiative of the Northern New Jersey Community Foundation.

The next Strategy Lab will be November 10 and 11 at the Paterson Art Factory.  There we will help a unique maker space and filming center better connect with the surrounding community.  We will explore ways to organize open space at the facility for arts and cultural programming.  In addition, we'll explore how to make Spruce Street (which runs from the Great Falls National Park past the Art Factory and leads to Rte 19 and I-80) into a great corridor.  Finally, we'll also strategize ways to build the capacity of the Paterson Arts Council to lead and sustain these efforts.  The event is free, but a $20 donation to the Paterson Arts Council would be appreciated.

For more information, or to become a client for a Strategy Lab, please contact NCCP Executive Director Leonardo Vazquez by email or at 973-763-6352, x1

Explore a growing cultural center in South Jersey in the next Creative Placemaking Learning Tour

By Leonardo Vazquez, AICP/PP

Learn more about Hammonton, this small town that is becoming a center of arts and creative placemaking in South Jersey. 

Explore Stockton University's Kramer Hall (home to several arts and cultural organizations), Hammonton Arts Center, Noyes Art Museum, Eagle Theater, and the future Arts Alley. Brainstorm with other creative placemakers on an opportunity site in downtown Hammonton. Then join your colleagues for lunch and a drink at the town's new craft brewery.
Ticket includes lunch. Rain date is November 5.  Register

This Creative Placemaking Learning Tour is produced by New Jersey Creative Placemakers, an initiative of The National Consortium for Creative Placemaking, in partnership with the Noyes Art Museum and the South Jersey Cultural Alliance. 
Creative Placemaking Learning Tours are a different kind of walking or bus tour.  We do more than explore the what of a place; we learn about how the work happened -- often from the people who were most involved.  We also take time to brainstorm ideas for an opportunity site on the tour.  Finally, we have some kind of social activity. 
Creative Placemaking Learning Tours are made possible through the support of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, and New Jersey State Council on the Arts.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

CP Learning Tour a fun way to learn about arts and history in Orange and West Orange

By Leonardo Vazquez, AICP/PP

From the train or the highway, Orange, New Jersey looks like another working class suburb of Newark and New York.  But it's a city rich in history, culture and overlooked wealth.  Did you know that there's a 9,000 square foot house that had been built for the inventor of the modern paint can?  Or that what looks like an old vacant warehouse in the Valley Arts district is actually a major studio for Hip-Hop performers?

The participants in the Creative Placemaking Learning Tour learned this and more.  Led by Scott Schultz of the Valley Arts District and Karen Wells of the Orange Historic Commission, 15 people from around North Jersey walked around the Valley Arts District and took a bus tour to visit beautiful historic houses in the Seven Oaks neighborhood.

Stopping by Luna Moon, a mural in the Valley Arts District in West Orange.  The artist, Dan Fenelon, (standing, eighth from the left), was also on the tour.  Portions of the Valley Arts District are in West Orange.  Image credit:  Patricia Mitrano, West Orange Arts Council.

The tour was produced by New Jersey Creative Placemakers, an initiative of The National Consortium for Creative Placemaking; Orange Historic Commission; and Valley Arts.  Thanks also to the City of Orange, which provided a bus and driver to help the tour connect Valley Arts and Seven Oaks.

The next Creative Placemaking Learning Tour is Saturday, November 4, in Hammonton, NJ. Learn more or register.

For more information on this, or any other Learning Tour, please contact NCCP Executive Director Leonardo Vazquez by email or at 973-763-6352, x 1

Visiting historic houses in Seven Oaks in Orange.  Image credit: Patricia Mitrano, West Orange Arts Council