Tag Archives: urban planning

See Potential: helping us all envision the rebirth of abandoned buildings on the South Side.

See Potential in what’s around us. That’s the goal of photographer Emily Schiffer’s See Potential initiative: affixing huge weatherproof photographic works to undervalued community assets. It’s a great idea that can help harness the public imagination for the greater good. It’s the sort of greater good that Schiffer always hoped her art would serve. She related to Benevolent Media:

“It’s very clear that publishing an image in a magazine or having a gallery show or having a book isn’t actually going to change anything… I’m always jealous of people who do pottery, for example, because their art has some sort of practical use.

For instance, Gladys’ Luncheonette (a Soul Restaurant that served Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood for decades, but recently closed) is re-imagined through imagery as a healthy corner store offering cooking classes. For members of the neighborhood, this is definitely a soft sell; but Schiffer, alongside Orrin Williams and Judith Helfand, is also trying to sell the viability of community development to outside investors (as well as the City of Chicago itself).

The works will illustrate the Center for Urban Transformation’s revitalization plans for shared community spaces such as:

- Locally owned corner stores that will sell nutritious food and provide on-site, healthy cooking classes.

- Year-round, indoor growing sites using aquaponics technology will train and employ community members and supply food to local healthy corner stores.

- Cooking schools or community centers refashioned from blighted homes that will provide holistic living practices through diverse forms of community outreach and education.

- Community gardens created in empty lots.

According to their Kickstarter proposal:

“Each photographic installation will include a text panel encouraging onlookers to send a text message in support of that specific site transformation.  Using a custom-designed SMS text messaging infrastructure and GPS technology, [they] will collect all messages and record the location from which each text was sent.  By pinpointing the different locations and by tracking the amount of public support at each site, we will be able to present a series of interactive, web-based maps to potential funders, policy makers, and city officials.”

This is just the sort of paradigm shift that Darkjive is all about, something I term as Lack versus Fat (outlined fully here). Using the analogy of the coffee can full of grease that my grandmother kept on her stovetop, the grease (and the can itself) could, at first, be considered waste material. But upon reevaluation, it can also be considered a resource that can contribute to the kind of meal that sustains life. The same can be said for abandoned buildings, or so many things in our communities that can be seen as deficits.

for more on the project (which was recently successfully funded via Kickstarter) click here.


Theaster Gates’ Rebuild Foundation Approved to Develop at 70th and Dante

Artist, Urban Planner, and Friend of Darkjive Theaster Gates is at it again. His plan (through the Rebuild Foundation) is to rebuild a CHA residence into a Collaborative Artists/Mixed Income community of 32 units. The preexisting structure is located at 70th Street between Dante and Harper on the South Side of Chicago. That plan the rehab the structure has recently been approved by the CHA, and groundbreaking begins in 2012. Righteous.

According to a recent interview for WBEZ’s Natalie Moore:

“The creative class that Richard Florida talks about [he says their role is to revitalize cities], I don’t think he’s actually talking about some of the folk that we have identified as creative or that live in this space,” Gates said. “It’s true that creatives and people who are interested in creativity and design and architecture have substantial impacts on neighborhoods. But I don’t think they’d necessarily be attracted to living on Dorchester”.

“…Part of what I’m excited about is that there’s a whole segment of the creative class that’s not been asked to be players in city. I’m talking about black artists, artists of color”.

He touches on some issues of inclusion and expansion of what the so-called Creative Class looks and feels like (as well how to harness creative energy for the greater good). Let’s crack the art world wide open… and build up our communities in the process. Word up and jive on!

UPDATE: for more details on the plan, click here.


Theaster Gates’ Dorchester Projects

What do you get when you mix a maverick artist with strong community ties and an Urban Planner? For one thing, Theaster Gates. For another, the Dorchester Projects, pictured above. Theaster has been purchasing properties in the Woodlawn/Grand Crossing neighborhood for a few years now, and has quietly acquired the stock of the former Dr. Wax record store as well as the now defunct Prairie Avenue Bookstore (both businesses were revered in their respective collector communities). He created a home for glass lantern slides that depict the canon of Western Fine Art. Using reclaimed materials, he is turning his properties into cultural community hubs, featuring curators and programming that reflects the collections and the community.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I’ll be curating the record collection in May and June of 2011, culminating in a series of talks on Chicago Music History (details to follow) and a couple of good, old-fashioned dance parties starring local-born music.

Read the New York Times article about what’s poppin on the South Side with the Dorchester Projects.


Let’s Clean up the Ghetto.

 

it’s about time.


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