An architect worked with community members to design and build a beautiful 50’ bench at a bus stop. A multimedia artist (in residence at a corner store!) collaborated to create a dance that embodied the daily life of the street’s small shops and restaurants. Another worked with students to build a tri-lingual installation, “Our Liberated Land”. The list goes on. DS4SI and the Fairmount Cultural Corridor explored what could happen when a community had its own Artist in Residence.
DS4SI's approach to creative placemaking is grounded in having communities imagine their uses of places in ways that build on their site specificity. The specifics of the community matter. We want our placemaking to surface what's unique and integral to the current identity of a place. We hope to assist places in becoming more of what they like about themselves, as opposed to aggregating places to one idealized place / public space. This is intense work as places have multiple and often contested publics vying for contrasting articulations of space and place. So our work is to help communities surface these differing and seemingly oppositional intentions for space to find solutions, possibilities and new connections.
We believe it is important to think of creative placemaking within the context of spatial justice [link to paper]—to acknowledge and address how many of the places we work in have been the sites of on-going place breaking, rather than placemaking. We believe that when we bring communities together to inspect spatial elements of justice, we also engage them in deeper conversations about belonging, community, authority, dignity and joy. When we work with artists to create unexpected “third spaces” that engage and delight passers-by, we are also building new ideas about the public, each other and what we can do together.
Much of our work in creative placemaking has been through our role as a core partner in the Fairmount Cultural Corridor. The FCC combines collaborative creative placemaking efforts of residents, artists, community organizations and small businesses to support vibrant, livable neighborhoods along the Fairmount Commuter Line in Boston. It is designed to advance a vision that draws upon the local cultural assets and ethnic traditions of the Corridor’s residents.
inPUBLIC is ds4si’s first festival of public-making—the collective creation and activation of public spaces for interaction and belonging. We are partnering with artists and activists to create the types of public spaces and atmospheres that we want to fight for.
We created a Productive Fiction. Over two evenings in the fall of 2014, our installation of lights and an illuminated red carpet transformed the bridge into a bright space.
As public infrastructures--hospitals, water, schools, transportation, etc--are privatized, the Public Kitchen takes a stab at going in the reverse direction. It is an installation designed to help us realize that the ways in which public infrastructures can improve the quality of our lives is still a work in progress.
From April 29th -- May 5th 2013, we engaged over 600 community members--families, artists, merchants, elders and passers-by in thinking about Uphams Corner and the planning processes going on around them. The interactive exhibit and integrated street signage aimed to lower the barrier for the public to engage in planning processes, both those already going on and ones they might want to create.
The Imaginary 'Tea Stop' is a data collection tool that gathered tallies on what residents wanted to see near their train station.
STREET LAB: UPHAM'S was a season-long outdoor Creativity Lab where anybody could reimagine and prototype ways to liven up micro-public spaces. It took place in an alley in the Upham's Corner neighborhood in Dorchester, MA over the fall of 2013. We transformed an alley every Saturday, complete with activity stations and a small woodworking shop.