Teal Thibaud of Stand Blogs About Carol Coletta & Launching of ArtPlace Saturday, September 17, 2011
I am not a graphic designer, architect, or artist, but I consider myself creative. Carol Coletta, director of ArtPlace, hit home during her conversation Wednesday. My heart raced and adrenaline pumped as she discussed how creative problem solving can shape a place socially, physically, and economically. Don’t get me wrong I love a room full of economists, planners, city officials, strategic thinkers, and data dudes, but a fresh side of economic development thinking alongside the arts floats my boat.
ArtPlace is a collaboration between the National Endowment for the Arts and 11 top foundations, to improve cities by accelerating creative placemaking across the US. ArtPlace believes that art, culture and creativity expressed powerfully through place can create communities full of energy, thus increasing the desire and the economic opportunity for people to thrive.
There are 34 locally initiated projects in the pipeline for ArtsPlace, investing $11.5 million into cities from San Francisco to Wilson, NC. These 34 projects have been selected to develop a new model towards helping towns and cities succeed by strategically integrating artists and arts organizations into identified local initiatives including community development, housing, local economy, and more. The ArtPlace website just launched, so please visit the site for more more projects in other cities.
Democracy: A Search for Solutions Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Jack Levine - The Arrest – 1983—oil on canvas— 24 ¼ x 24 ¼ inches—Gift of Ralph Shumacker in loving memory of his wife, Elizabeth Schumacker—Collection of the Hunter Museum of American Art, 1998.11 (Art © Estate of Hughie Lee-Smith/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY; Art © Estate of Jack Levine /Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY)
When discussing public policy, we tend to view the world through a monetary lens. Simply “throwing money” at a problem does not make it go away, and doing so often disregards the importance of socio-cultural variables - the people and social trends involved in the process. The best piece of legislation with a huge amount of financial backing will still fail if those working on it are not inspired and empowered to make it succeed.
Addressing crime is no different. We tend to forget that police officers are human, and we rarely see ourselves as part of the crime-prevention process. But in order to reduce crime, everyday citizens must be involved, police officers must be morally supported, and local government officials must consider how all political resource allocation affects the Police Department’s ability to do its job well.
Funding is definitely crucial, and the more police officers a city can hire, the better; but economic pressures are relentless, and there are specific ways we - the City of Chattanooga- can better utilize the resources we already have in place to reduce crime rates. The Police Department is already over-worked and under-funded; and so we must take responsibility for becoming more active.
Over the past 4.5 years, CreateHere’s work has proven two things about improving a community, through government oversight or grassroots organizations:
1. It takes catalysts, leaders unshakably committed to solving a problem.
2. It takes innovation, creative thinking to deploy new ideas when older soltuions aren’t working.
The unique skills and ideas of local residents - the ability for us to adapt old knowledge to new demands - are crucial to the future of America’s communities. Social networks and relationships are the fuel that power this system. Large organizations using traditional models of community maintenance are mostly keeping issues from getting out of control, but are rarely solving problems completely. Smaller citizen groups, driven by passion and rooted in social connectivity, can solve problems. This notion is the essence of true democracy.
The Broken Windows Brigade intends to unite the community to support the ongoing work of the Chattanooga Police Department and provide resources to help citizens develop true solutions to local issues concerning crime. While money is important and government intervention is necessary, the people are the way to true solutions.
St. Elmo Placemaking Tuesday, September 06, 2011
On Saturday, October 1st, volunteers and friends of the St. Elmo community will come together at the Roy Nelms Park, located at the intersection of Ochs Highway and Alabama Avenue. Together, they will rebuild a gazebo that was demolished during the spring tornados, add some exciting enhancements to this community space, and enjoy local food, live music, and children’s activities.
Roy Nelms Park, St. Elmo; more photographs can be found here.
Roy Nelms Park Coordinator Andrew Kean continues to plan for the 1-day community-build event. Chattanooga Stand and the St. Elmo Neighborhood Association are partnering with Andrew to promote the event and coordinate volunteers. We are looking forward to working hand-in-hand with community volunteers and hope everyone will consider coming out to join us.
For those of you interested in knowing more about Roy Nelms, we did a little digging in the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Bicentennial Library’s local history section. We found out that Nelms was a retired businessman and life-long resident of St. Elmo. In the eighties, he served as head of the St. Elmo Improvement League—a handful of concerned citizens who saw their neighborhood take a dive and banded together to turn it around.
Under Nelms’ leadership, the Improvement League worked with several hundred people in the community to plant 36,000 Dutch daffodils along 1.7 miles of St. Elmo Avenue. Other projects included printing a booklet of St. Elmo’s history, establishing a fine arts series, placing concrete planters in the business district and at churches, and establishing a series of pocket parks throughout the neighborhood.
More important than the face lifts, however, were the changes in the way St. Elmo residents felt about their community. In a neighborhood where residents were traditionally passing through, families started moving in and putting down roots.
We are proud to continue Nelms’ legacy of community building and placemaking. Volunteers, donations, and other services for October’s park re-build are still needed. For more information, contact Teal Thibaud at teal [at] chattanoogastand.com.
Also, don’t forget to mark your calendar for next Wednesday, September 14th from 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm for City Share: Creative Placemaking featuring Carol Coletta.
Improvement in East Chattanooga Tuesday, August 30, 2011
For decades, East Chattanooga has been what some local residents call a “catch-all” for many of the city’s delinquent residents. Resultant high crime rates—along with worrisome obesity rates and low household income averages, among other sub-par attributes—have made it difficult for the area to gain any sense of positive momentum. Once a blossoming community half a century ago, the 9 neighborhoods occupying this urban sub-region have digressed economically and socially due to policy-driven social gentrification and ongoing bouts of collective apathy. Yet, one local organization—the East Chattanooga Improvement, Inc. (ECII)—understands East Chattanooga’s history and knows what needs to happen to fight these deleterious trends.
By maintaining active collaboration between the 8 neighborhoods shown above (plus Battery Heights just north of the Riverside area) and the Chattanooga Police Department, ECII has been building stronger relationships and communication within East Chattanooga since 2005. Through a Department of Justice “Weed and Seed” grant allocated in October of 2007, ECII founded the East Chattanooga Weed and Seed (ECWS) project to “weed-out” exsiting digressive variables within the community and “seed-in” new productive, inspiring ones. Synonymous to the fundamental assumptions of the Broken Windows Theory, ECII and the ECWS project operate with the notion that crime in their neighborhoods is not a result of one failing socio-economic mechanism but many. Therefore, holisitic community renewal was and still is necessary.
To that end, the organization focuses on uniting local experts and active volunteers around productive activities to address 5 major problematic subjects: Safety, Housing, Health, Economic Development, and Youth Mentorship. These focus areas were not chosen arbitrarily but targeted as a systematic strategy to support the “weeding” and “seeding” (based on the community’s immediate needs). Having worked for the past 4 years building collaborative energy, ECWS had made postive impacts. Pertaining to crime, one CPD report comparing East Chattanooga neighborhood crime rates between 2009 and 2010 showed major improvements due to better policing, stronger neighborhoods associations, etc. Specifically, Orchard Knob realized a 50% decrease in total property crimes, Churchville experienced a 64% decrease in burglaries, and the Riverside community saw a 82% drop in larceny. Even so, more work is needed.
Weed and Seed Community sign, 3rd Street and O’Neal Street, Chattanooga
Moving forward, the Broken Windows Brigade hopes to join ECII (whether formally or informally) in their ongoing effort to decrease crime in East Chattanooga by improving the residents’ general quality of life. No definite plans have been made yet, but BWB is currently researching East Chattanooga’s specific needs and working to saturate those neighborhoods with resources and form new relationships between residents inside and outside the community. If nothing else, BWB intends to help active, motivated East Chattanooga residents get the tools/information they need to restore their communities sense of place and pride.
Check out the ECII/ECWS website to learn more and/or see how you can get involved (eastchattanoogaweedandseed.org)!
One Idea At A Time Tuesday, August 23, 2011
We believe community gets built one-step at a time. This means finding opportunities, big or small, to do things that can matter for the long-term.
Emerging leaders have been coming together to do just this. We’re sharing actionable ideas and collectively deciding which idea to pursue first. Most of all, we’re committed to showing up and bringing new folks to the group who can help us accomplish what we set out to do.
Not all of our ideas will stick, but a single success can build momentum, generate excitement and inspire new participation.
Andrew Kean wants to rebuild a storm-damaged gazebo and park in St. Elmo over the course of a weekend. This idea brings citizens together to take ownership and make the park better than ever. This week, the Stand team is focused on connecting Andrew with the resources and skills needed to turn his idea into action.
The imagination and commitment of individuals working together reminds us that – even if it means banging our heads together, we can build a better future.
We are looking forward to taking the next steps towards implementation. If you are an emerging leader and would like to engage in this work, just drop us a line for more details. In the meantime, we’ll be churning out exciting updates from the field.