PlaceMakers is Rochester’s prototyping festival allowing residents to see the many different ways public space can be transformed. Prototyping is the practice of creating, testing, and trying an experimental model of a new idea or object. Rochester’s Downtown Alliance wanted to involve a range of people to develop creative solutions to physical spaces. In 2016, 16 prototypes were tested over one weekend. Creative Crosswalks by the team RNeighbors aimed to nurture citizen involvement for positive community change by helping bring art to barren spaces and by emphasizing safe crosswalk space for one of the most heavily used pedestrian areas in downtown Rochester. This exploration of new ideas and ways of seeing public space allows communities to innovate and flourish, better serving the people who live and work there.
Photo credit: Rene Lafflam of RNeighbors
Art has been noted as a vehicle for establishing and enhancing relationships among neighborhood residents who nurture their connectedness by helping, sharing, and encouraging each other while working on projects (Kay, 2000)–see examples at Project for Public Spaces. In 2013, Hennepin County Community Works collaborated with the City of Minneapolis, community artists, and community members to reimagine the future of Penn Avenue in North Minneapolis. As noted by a Hennepin County staff member who worked on the project, “We took our time in identifying various groups and talking with people, building relationships and finding out how best to engage different groups.” Using playful interactions like chalk talks, bus stop theater, and pop-up galleries the group generated ideas, which ranged from economic development to housing strategies, beautification, and livability, and helped create the small area plan for the Penn Avenue corridor.
Hennepin County, Minnesota
Photo credit: createplace.org