Artists Take Center Stage at APA’s 2019 Planning Conference

In April I attended the 2019 National Conference of the American Planning Association (APA) in San Francisco. I was thrilled that the conference both opened and closed with keynotes by artists.

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Musings on “Home” and the Rural Generation Summit

I’ve spent most of my life living in urban spaces. In our work at Metris, we lift up examples of arts and culture happening in communities across the U.S. I also recently joined the board of the Department of Public Transformation, an organization working to support and connect artists in rural places around the U.S. Does the fact that I’ve lived most my life in urban spaces compromise my ability to support work happening in rural places?

The is a gathering of folks working in rural America and rural Indian Country. The Summit is an opportunity to learn from each other and to build a national network. This year’s Summit happened right after the ArtPlace Summit in Jackson, MS. I already planned to attend the ArtPlace Summit, so why not stick around Jackson for a couple more days? Attending the Rural Generation Summit allowed me some dedicated time to learn and think about arts and culture in rural communities.

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Backyard Spotlight: Common Field Convening Philadelphia

I was lucky to be able to attend some of the Philadelphia Common Field Convening back in April. It was an inspiring gathering of arts organizers, artist collectives, and small-scale arts organizations from the U.S. and Canada.

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Backyard Spotlight: Mercantile Home

Mercantile Home is a community centered, creative lifestyle brand created by artist/husbands Ken Jones Jr. and Ron Morris.

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Dispatch from Boston – This One’s for the Women

On a recent trip to Boston last March, I caught up with new developments on the cultural scene. It was women’s history month and what I saw and were I went definitely reflected that fact.

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Postcards from the Road: Richmond, Indiana

Last week, Rachel and I headed to Richmond, Indiana for meetings with the Indiana Arts Commission (IAC). We are working with the IAC to design an evaluation plan and assess their evaluation capacity so that they can improve and share the impact of their work. The IAC goes “on the road” for two of its Commission meetings each year and so we got to meet with the Commissioners and IAC’s Regional Arts Partners (RAPs) in Richmond, Indiana.

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“This is what our community feels like, looks like, tastes like, smells like, sounds like”: Reflections on Working with Artist Facilitators

Illustration of the community poem from Lisa Nelson, of See In Colors.

Community is a block party where everyone is invited. Bring your best dance moves, your favorite food.

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Post Cards from the Road: Metris takes Manhattan

We conceived a day trip of meetings in NYC some months ago—thinking it would be a great way to kick off our marketing efforts in early 2019. Little did we know that the weather gods would smile upon us and deliver a sunny, 60-degree day in early February, just one week after the polar vortex.

My colleagues Anne Gadwa Nicodemus, Susannah Laramee Kidd, Rachel Engh, and I booked meetings with people and agencies whose work we admire, as well as present, former (and maybe future!) clients to check in on what’s on deck for 2019 and explore opportunities to collaborate.

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A Cultural Planning Manifesto

I’ve lived and breathed cultural plans for so long, it feels as though I’ve looked at the work from every angle. I’ve read many. I’ve talked to a lot of people in different places that have developed them. I’ve taught cultural planning in the U.S. and China. Most importantly as a municipal cultural leader, I had the great fortune to head up the creation of Boston and Chicago’s cultural plans. I then spent two years implementing each. Pre-planning started with fundraising, goal setting, vision development, drafting an RFP, and engaging consultants. During the planning process, we built a team, trained volunteers, collaborated with artists, engaged stakeholders and the public, crafted research and synthesized data, articulated a compelling shared vision, and launched the actual plan. That plan launch then triggered a whole new set of work—we cultivated partnerships, identified funding, devised programs, created pilots, crafted policies, adopted legislation, commissioned follow-up research, and finally institutionalized the work and communicated our accomplishments. Phew!

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Community-Engaged Design: A Story of Hiccups and Perseverance

Just as I began my internship with Metris in September 2018, I also embarked on my engineering studies senior capstone design project. Our group had to design an art installation for the exterior of the Acopian Engineering Center at Lafayette College. Our goal for the project was to create an installation that could help Acopian and the engineering department feel more inclusive and interdisciplinary. At the time, I was still finding my footing at Metris, but based on what I knew so far, this project seemed likely to be a perfect converging of both of my majors (engineering studies and studio art) and my work at Metris. I just wasn’t sure what exactly that would mean.

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