Learning from the Ghost Ship Fire Tragedy: Safety, Support, and Informal Cultural Space

Photo by Jim Heaphy

Two years ago, on the night of December 2nd, 2016, 36 people lost their lives in a tragic and preventable warehouse fire, which broke out in the middle of a concert on the second floor of the Ghost Ship arts performance and living space in Oakland, CA. The fire trapped concertgoers on the second floor of the warehouse space with only a single narrow stairway as an exit, as the other stairway had been blocked off for the event. The tragedy immediately reached national news. I remember the news stories updating, the slow, awful revelation of the extent of the loss of life. I also remember that as the night went on, my social media feeds began to fill with personal outpourings of grief from friends who had lost loved ones that night. This was not an anonymous, distant tragedy. This was an extension of my community.

Continue reading

Posted in From our Interns | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on Learning from the Ghost Ship Fire Tragedy: Safety, Support, and Informal Cultural Space

Journeys in Creative Placemaking/keeping/taking

Aspen Review Café: Creative Placemaking

In 2009/2010, I caught an incredible break. I had recently decided to hang out my shingle as an arts and urban planning consultant. A former choreographer/arts administrator, I was just 29 years old, had a newly minted masters of urban planning in hand, and a rock star of a mentor: Ann Markusen. The upper echelons of the National Endowment for the Arts tapped Ann to write a white paper. It was to underpin a new, flagship grantmaking program on how arts and culture could be harnessed for community revitalization and livability. When she asked me if I’d like to work on the project, I unequivocally said yes. In many ways, that white paper has been and remains my professional calling card. It allowed me to build Metris, a business now nearly 10-years strong, and I am incredibly proud of our body of work. When giving talks around the country, folks introducing me would frequently go off-script from my official bio and ad-lib “she, literally, wrote the book on creative placemaking.”

Continue reading

Posted in Creative Placemaking | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on Journeys in Creative Placemaking/keeping/taking

Sidestepping Nails and Newly-Poured Concrete: Why Fieldwork Matters

“We are Edison” by Fran Dwight. Kalamazoo, MI

I always appreciate when I get the opportunity to pry myself away from my Office friends—Word, Excel, and PowerPoint—and witness creative placemaking in its natural habitat. Last year, Metris had the privilege to support Center for Community Progress in an exploration of how four cities use creative placemaking on vacant properties. A national organization, Community Progress fosters strong, equitable communities where vacant, abandoned, and deteriorated properties are transformed into assets for neighbors and neighborhoods. Continue reading

Posted in Postcards from the Road | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Sidestepping Nails and Newly-Poured Concrete: Why Fieldwork Matters