Lessons from the Field: Reflections on Rural Placemaking

Find our more about our Rural Placemaking work! 

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Over the past year, [bc] and the Housing Assistance Council (HAC) have had the opportunity to investigate how tools of arts and community building can be used in rural communities, funded in part by a generous Knowledge Building Grant through the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).

This partnership has brought resources to existing local efforts and enabled our organizations to better understand how ‘creative placemaking’ works in practice in rural communities and why it is a valuable tool for rural community development now. Through webinars, an internal working group, two pilot projects (in Kinston, North Carolina and Thomas, West Virginia) and a peer-to-peer exchange, we’ve seen the value of vivid local examples in understanding that ‘creative placemaking’ has been happening for a long time in rural communities across the country. Modest increases in resources coupled with capacity building hold vast potential for rural and tribal communities.

We've published a report, Lessons from the Field: Reflections on Rural Placemaking describing our yearlong initiative and reflecting on the last year of our work, outlining key outcomes and lessons learned valuable to the larger practice of rural creative placemaking. Read the full report here

Several resources were developed during this partnership to expand knowledge and practice of rural creative placemaking, including: 

This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. To find out more about how National Endowment for the Arts grants impact individuals and communities, visit www.arts.gov.

 

Dallas Afterschool Access Map

Learn more about bcANALYTICS  and read the full Dallas Afterschool Access Report

There are 570,000 children aged 14 and under in Dallas County. All of these children qualify for afterschool programs. Funding, physical spaces, operations, staffing, materials and curriculum development are all needed to keep afterschool programs alive. More than 1,000 afterschool programs operate in Dallas County, each finding their own method for covering these costs and serving their students.

Dallas Afterschool has established the After the Bell Alliance to improve access to seats in afterschool programs for children across Dallas County. This partnership of community members, funders, afterschool providers, and advocates envisions that all students will have access to enriching and educational activities after they leave school each day. 

Two barriers to achieving this vision exist: costs associated with attending afterschool programs and students' physical access to program sites. Dallas Afterschool aims to increase access to free and low-cost programs for an additional 16,000 students in Dallas County. 

This report uses a multi-criteria model to analyze data within five areas: Existing Afterschool Environment, Current Neighborhood Conditions, Local School Environment, Accessibility + Proximity, and Change in Neighborhood Conditions.  10 clusters of Census tracts are identified for the After the Bell Alliance to expand afterschool programs. This approach provides an opportunity to enhance access for low-income students in some of Dallas County's least affluent neighborhoods. 

 

 

 

Casitas Los Olmos is finished!

Learn more about our Making work!

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Casitas Los Olmos, completed in October 2017, is a neighborhood of 80 single family rental units and six community amenity structures where families can thrive and have a sense of ownership of where they live.  Porches create spaces to enjoy the outdoors, shaded windows help keep the hot sun out, and energy and water efficient construction help keep utility bills low. Each home has parking spaces immediately adjacent to the front door.

The 8.72 acre site incorporates low impact development (LID) strategies such as bioswales, partially permeable driveways, and native landscaping to filter and absorb as much stormwater on site as possible. Community amenity structures (including leasing offices, a learning center, a community space with a prep kitchen, a BBQ pavilion, mail kiosk, laundry and playground) define the larger public green areas. Steel roofs encompass the amenity structures and provide large shaded areas for comfortable gathering and play areas. The shade structures take a cue from Raymondville’s agricultural history. 

From the project's inception, the design team challenged itself to create a place that engages residents and engenders a sense of community. The neighborhood was developed via a community engaged design process, resulting in a collection of sequential green spaces, varying in scale from pocket neighborhood areas to community greens. The integration of pedestrian paths allow residents to move throughout these spaces of gathering and play. 

Rural Placemaking Peer Exchange in Thomas, WV

Learn more about our work Activating work! 

On October 3rd and 4th, [bc] co-hosted a peer learning exchange with the Housing Assistance Council and Woodlands Development Group in Thomas, West Virginia to share knowledge and best practices for creative placemaking in rural communities. The peer learning exchange included a range of site visits, conversations with local stakeholders, and workshops. 

[bc], HAC and Woodlands were joined by rural affordable housing developers, artists, educators and local nonprofit organizations to discuss topics including funding, partnerships, program design, cultural equity and community engagement. 

This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. To find out more about how National Endowment for the Arts grants impact individuals and communities, visit www.arts.gov.

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11th Street Bridge Park Working Group

See more posts about our work in DC

[bc] is supporting the 11th Street Bridge Park with developing cultural strategies to include in its Equitable Development Plan. On July 20th and 25th, [bc] and the 11th Street Bridge Park facilitated two small working group meetings. Local artists, arts organizations, and national leaders drafted initial strategies that identify how the Bridge Park can support arts, culture and heritage in its impact area. 

These draft strategies will be shared with the public at an open house on Wednesday, August 16th. 

Rural Placemaking Call for Participants

See more posts about our Activating Vacancy work. 

[bc], with HAC, is excited to announce the launch of the call for participants for Rural Placemaking, a new creative placemaking initiative that will take place in two rural communities (with populations less than 50,000) in the United States. Creative placemaking is a way of working between community developers, housing organizations, artists and local stakeholders to strengthen communities. This initiative will implement two creative actions during summer 2017 that bring people together to share food, stories, art, experiences, and histories as well as enable neighbors to talk, learn, and organize.

Two partnerships between a housing or community development organization and an artist/art organization will be selected to implement a temporary initiative from May to August 2017. [bc] and HAC encourage housing/community development organizations without an existing artist/arts organization partner to submit an application. If successful, [bc] and HAC will facilitate selection of a partner artist/organization.

Successful applicants will receive up to $7,500 to support the development of an arts and community building project in their town. They will also receive training and support from national leaders in creative placemaking and community development on the implementation of their project. Throughout the Rural Placemaking program, [bc] and HAC will provide one in person peer-to-peer training session with other participants to share experience and problem solve, technical training webinars to guide participants through [bc]'s creative placemaking process, Activating Vacancy, and an on-site visit to assist in program implementation. [bc] will provide guidance and feedback to participants on creative placemaking throughout the implementation of Rural Placemaking.  HAC will provide organizational and technical assistance in sustaining long term impact throughout the implementation of Rural Placemaking.  

Applicants should demonstrate a strong interest in social justice and desire to work collaboratively with community stakeholders to formulate proposals which unite residents from diverse economic and cultural backgrounds. Applicants are encouraged to share examples of past work that exhibit community engagement/participation and the organization’s interest in bringing creative placemaking to their community.

More information on Rural Placemaking can be found here. Interested parties should apply via an online application here. We recommend reviewing the application requirements on pages 4-6 on the call for participants to prepare your materials prior to submission. Applicants cannot save and return to their applications.

Applications are due by 11:59pm on March 10, 2017. Applicants are encouraged to submit outside of peak website traffic time, (8:00pm-11:59pm CST on March 10th, 2017).  Finalists will be notified by March 30, 2017.

This initiative is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). To find out more about how National Endowment for the Arts grants impact individuals and communities, visit www.arts.gov.

Celebrating Ivy City Is...

Learn more about Crossing the Street: Ivy City and our work in DC.

Photos by Vinnie Accardi (top left), Lotanna Obodozie (top center-right) and Nando Alvarez (center and bottom rows). 

On Sunday, November 6th, we celebrated the opening of “Ivy City Is…”, a collaborative, resident and artist-led creative project that culminated in the creation of a three-dimensional, 5’ by 20’ screenprinted, plywood installation, spelling out “IVY CITY”. This project is intended to celebrate the neighborhood’s rich heritage and foster a dialogue about Ivy City’s identity in the face of rapid development and demographic change. Over 200 Ivy City residents, creatives, and community stakeholders joined us at this event with on-site screen printing, free t-shirts, food, and performances by local artists at Lewis W. Crowe Park.

Each letter was crafted using a collage of historic photos, maps, and portraits of residents who customized individual yard signs declaring what Ivy City means to them. A diverse community of local artists collaborated with area youth to host a series of free screen printing workshops, where residents learned how to screen print and helped create the seven large letters that spelled out “IVY CITY”. Prior to this celebration, these individual letters were on display in key locations throughout the neighborhood, including Bethesda Baptist Church, Louis Carryout, Hecht Warehouse, and Trinity Baptist Church.

This “place-keeping” installation serves as a landmark to the historic neighborhood and invites residents of all backgrounds to celebrate Ivy City and collectively envision its future. This project is a collaboration between Empower DC, The Sanctuaries, Open Studio DC, LISC, [bc], and the DC Office of Planning (DCOP). This project is supported by DCOP’s grant from the Kresge Foundation, “Crossing the Street: Building DC’s Inclusive Future through Creative Placemaking”.

Ivy City Artist Selection

See more posts about Crossing the Street and our other work in Washington, DC

The Sanctuaries  artists and  Empower DC  youth community organizers screen print yard signs for residents. Photos (above and below) by  Rev. Erik Martinez Resley  of  The Sanctuaries .

The Sanctuaries artists and Empower DC youth community organizers screen print yard signs for residents. Photos (above and below) by Rev. Erik Martinez Resley of The Sanctuaries.

[bc] with LISC is excited to share the proposal selected for the Crossing the Street: Ivy City project. Crossing the Street: Ivy City is a temporary creative placemaking initiative in northeast Washington, DC. The collaborative team of EmpowerDC , The SanctuariesOpen Studio DC and resident Taylor Johnson have already been hard at work engaging residents in conversations about Ivy City's neighborhood identity and the community's desire for recreational amenities. Their project invites new and old Ivy City residents to customize a sign that expresses what "Ivy City Is" to them as well as to participate in a screenprinting and poetry workshop. The photos of residents with their signs, the poetry developed, and other curated images will be used to develop a large, screen printed installation. This installation will be unveiled at a community event on Saturday, October 29th. Be sure to stay connected with us on Facebook for future updates and opportunities to participate! 

 

Crossing the Street: Ivy City

See more posts about our work in Washington, DC

[bc] with LISC are excited to announce a call for collaborators for the Crossing the Street: Activating Ivy City project. This art and creative placemaking initiative in the historic Ivy City neighborhood of northeast DC will implement a temporary, creative action that promotes community building, reflects the neighborhood’s rich heritage, and declares residents’ vision for the future of Ivy City.

Crossing the Street: Activating Ivy City will be carried out over the next four months produced and curated by [bc] with LISC in partnership with the DC Office of Planning. [bc] and LISC believe collaboration of local and technical expertise is essential to quality placemaking.

Residents and artists, are encouraged to respond to the call for collaborators. If you have had a creative project in mind that will activate or inspire your neighbors or if you are a person who creates for a living and you want to do something creative and artistic in Ivy City then we want you to apply!

More information on Crossing the Street: Activating Ivy City can be found here and interested parties should apply via an online application found here. A neighborhood tour and Q&A session will be held on July 21st for applicants to familiarize themselves with Ivy City and the application process. We encourage you to attend this session. Applications are due by midnight on Thursday, July 28th. Finalists will be notified by Monday, August 1, 2016.

For more information on Ivy City, see these resources.

This project is supported by a Kresge Foundation grant awarded to the DC Office of Planning. To find out more about DCOP’s Crossing the Street initiative, visit: http://planning.dc.gov/page/creative-placemaking.

Bonton + Ideal Released

Learn more about Bonton + Ideal and Neighborhood Stories.

The newest film in our Neighborhood Stories series, Bonton + Ideal, was released free online today. The film focuses on these two South Dallas neighborhoods, and illustrates the many policies enacted that aimed to isolate the community socially, economically, environmentally, and physically.

Told through the eyes of long-term residents, Bonton + Ideal tells the history of two neighborhoods thathave been tied together since their initial development during the era of segregation. Built on land in the Trinity River’s floodplain, the neighborhoods have battled the effects of massive flooding, concentrated public housing projects, and racially-motivated bombing campaigns.

The film’s director, Craig Weflen, says, “these stories give Dallas residents a chance to examine the consequences of flawed policies. Beyond Dallas, the challenges faced by Bonton and Ideal are the same sorts of challenges that have been faced by other neighborhoods across the American South. This is an opportune time to reflect on the way we’ve built our cities, and ask ourselves whether these conscious decisions have resulted in just, equitable living environments.”

Bonton + Ideal premiered on KERA’s Frame of Mind series in December 2015, and has screened publicly across Dallas, and nationally, over the past five months.

Bonton + Ideal is “a must-watch for anyone who cares about the history of Dallas and how it developed as two cities: One for whites, another for blacks,” says Mike Drago of the Dallas Morning News, adding that, “the context of such overt hostility is prerequisite to getting your head around all the neglect and misery that followed.”

Bonton + Ideal Trailer

We're excited to share the trailer for our newest Neighborhood Stories film Bonton + Ideal! The film premiered on December 24th, 2015 on KERA's Frame of Mind program. Since the premiere, the film has been accepted to the Big Muddy Film Festival in Carbondale, Illinois, and the Interurban Film Festival in Denison, Texas. Watch the film's official website for more details about local screenings as they become available. Later this spring, the film will be published online for free - be sure to keep your eyes open!


What people are saying:

Engaging the Homeless Community in Downtown Dallas

Learn more about our work in Dallas.

A video produced by [bc] Media Associate Craig Weflen highlights the Dallas Public Library's Homeless Engagement efforts.

On May 11, the Dallas Public Library asked attendees at a community forum on homeless engagement to reconsider their definition of community. Who are downtown Dallas' community members?

When asked to provide a strategy for building community between the homeless and the housed in Dallas[bc] Founding Director Brent Brown added a similar sentiment: "Say 'hi' to people, and mean it."  

When an everyday office worker walks down the streets of downtown Dallas, do they consider the homeless one of them? For the Dallas Public Library, the answer is clear: homeless people, as much as any other patron, are full community members in downtown Dallas

Moderated by StreetView podcast host Rashad Dickerson, various community organizations discussed the role of the homeless in downtown Dallas during the forum and how to engage the homeless population through social services, the built environment and art. Panelists included the Metro Dallas Homeless AllianceWillie Baronet of WE ARE ALL HOMELESS, and [bc] Founding Director Brent Brown

"The physicality [of the city] is driven by economic considerations first rather than human considerations," said Brown

Brown cited the lack of public toilets in downtown Dallas and the interactions that local homeless community members have with the [bc] office in downtown Dallas as examples of how the homeless community negotiates this physicality, while acknowledging the need for more comprehensive social services as well as the role of the Dallas Public Library in engaging the city's homeless. 

The Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance provided a strategic plan for further engaging homeless populations in Dallas and significantly reducing homelessness. Another highlight of the panel included an activity by artist Willie Baronet in which participants were asked to hold up signs created by homeless people around the country and imagine their lives: Were they old or young? Were they men or women? Why did they choose to own a pet, if it was referenced on the sign? These questions sparked lively dialogue about community perceptions of the homeless in multiple contexts. Baronet also emphasized the importance of respecting a homeless person's humanity by physically acknowledging their presence. 

Other ways that [bc] has previously engaged with the Dallas homeless community include the 5750 art installations and the making of a permanent supportive housing community known as the Cottages as Hickory Crossing

To learn more about the Dallas Public Library's Homeless Engagement efforts, watch the [bc]-produced video above. 

PIDI Brownsville: Building Healthy and Resilient Environments

Learn more about our work in the RGV.

On January 30th & 31st, 2015, [bc] hosted the Public Interest Design Institute at the Market Square Center in Brownsville, TX.

The Public Interest Design Institute is a two-day course that provides design and planning professionals with in-depth study on methods of design that can address the critical issues faced by communities. The curriculum is formed around the Social Economic Environmental Design® metric, a set of standards that outline the process and principles of this growing approach to design. SEED goes beyond green design with a “triple bottom line” approach that includes social, economic and environmental issues in the design process.

PIDI Brownsville was the most highly-attended PIDI conference ever, thanks to Design Corps and to funders such as the Community Development Corporation of Brownsville (CDCB), Brownsville Community Improvement Corporation (BCIC), the LRGV chapter of the American Institute of Architects, the City of Brownsville, and [bc], who enabled free and low-cost attendance at the event.

PIDI Brownsville presented an array of topics focused on issues faced by most communities in the Rio Grande Valley,  such as housing, infrastructure, downtown revitalization, and public health. Panelists discussed how to harness community partnerships and design for the public interest as a tool to improve our communities and build healthy and resilient environments. The diverse audience in attendance (city and county employees, local and international design professionals, engineers, [bc] partners, architecture students and community organizers) contributed to  a productive discussion of these issues and possible solutions.

Speakers included Nick Mitchell-Bennett, Executive Director of CDCB, Maurice Cox, as well as Brent Brown and staff members from the [bc] Rio Grande Valley office. By contextualizing the principles of public interest design into the issues that Brownsville & the Lower Rio Grande Valley are facing, participants learned how to use public interest design when planning for diverse needs, such as infrastructure, public health and post-disaster recovery housing. Participants from Monterrey, Mexico also expressed their desire to apply practices from public interest design in the U.S. to issues being faced in their respective communities.

PIDI Brownsville events included:

Day 1:

[PANEL] Inclusive Strategies: Leadership and Partnerships

[PANEL] Building It Better: Resilient Housing and Infrastructure

[LECTURE] [bc]: Working Across Scales: La Hacienda Casitas, sustainABLEhouse, and RAPIDO

Day 2:

[Keynote] - Maurice Cox shared his work from Charlottesville and his work with Tulane University in New Orleans. His design, political, institutional, and educational experience serve to tie the panel topics with what is currently happening in Brownsville.

[PANEL] Downtown Economics: Urban Redevelopment and Revitalization

[PANEL]  Healthy Environments: Designing and Building Healthy Communities

“I'm a civil engineer, so it's kind of hard to apply PID to installation of a sanitary sewer line, for example. However, I frequently work hand-in-hand with architectural firms (civil site design) so the course did give me some valuable insight into the big picture, i.e. what a versatile design team is capable of accomplishing for the common good of the community,” noted one participant.

Check out the  #pidibrownsville hashtag for coverage of the event on Twitter, including lessons learned from PIDI Brownsville:

  • Invest in the people to reach sustainability goals.

  • Collaboration & teamwork is essential to serving the public.

  • Partnership & interdisciplinary goals are necessary for successful projects with public-interest goals.

[bc] hopes to recreate the success of PIDI Brownsville in Dallas, TX. Join us for PIDI Dallas in September 2015. 

Improving the Recovery Process

Learn more about our disaster recovery projects RAPIDO and DR2.

In Texas, disaster recovery takes far too long and is marred by inefficiencies and high costs. Instead of re-inventing disaster recovery programs after every disaster, we need to plan for recovery before a disaster strikes, allowing for faster recovery time with less money invested to build greater value. In 2009, the Texas State Legislature passed legislation creating a demonstration project to design a better system. The Legislature needs to act again to expand this Texas solution.

Given our work with the RAPIDO Demonstration Project in the RGV and Disaster Recovery Round 2 in Houston, we joined with our partners and created a video outlining what needs to change in our Texas disaster response programs.

Celebrating Local Heroes

Learn more about our MLK Day of Service projects here.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. challenged us to build a more perfect union and taught us that everyone has a role to play in that effort. For our 2015 service project in his honor, [bc] set out to recognize some of those who serve their communities by releasing the Second Edition of buildingcommunityHEROES trading cards.  By creating a fun, tactile, and pocketable way to learn about those working to improve our communities, we hope to encourage those of all ages to honor their heroes and engage in the causes that speak to them.

We put out the call for local hero nominations at the beginning of January and received just over 100 nominations for those working tirelessly in Dallas, Houston and the Rio Grande Valley.  Nominations included selfless family members, state senators, founders of schools, advocacy group members and fearless neighborhood leaders.  It was not easy, but from here we researched and curated the nominations to get a final group of heroes with a diverse range of causes, ages, backgrounds and levels of impact.  After the final selections were made, the cards were printed, sorted, packaged and ready for a January 19 distribution.

We distributed the cards on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and throughout the week in Dallas, Houston and the Rio Grande Valley.  We hope that the stories of these 24 heroes will inspire people to be more active in their communities.  We also hope that the cards will encourage people to think about and honor their local heroes.  If you were not able to pick up a pack, check out all 24 heroes plus 2014's at www.buildingcommunityheroes.org.


 

Who is your hero?  Share them on social media at #bcHEROES2015 and nominate them for the third edition of trading cards!

Dallas Affordable Housing

Learn more about AIM for Dallas and our other sustainABLEhouse projects.

Affordable Infill Model (AIM) for Dallas is a multi-year project, generously supported by the Citi Foundation, designed to address gaps in the supply and demand for affordable housing in Dallas. The outcome of this process will be a set of solutions intended to guide the city toward a new market-based model for the creation of affordable infill housing through the use of currently vacant land.

To achieve this goal, AIM for Dallas is bringing together experts on the four main components of providing affordable housing: homebuyer preparedness (pipeline), development, policy, and finance. With administrative support from [bc], these experts - who believe that quality housing is a building block in people’s lives by providing stability, building resources and contributing to strong neighborhoods - will convene and set directions for research and solutions. With continual guidance from this assembled team of expert advisors, [bc] will conduct the necessary research to achieve the project goals.

Lab #1, held on Monday, September 29th, 2014, brought together over 30 practitioners working on affordable housing. These experts participated in a day-long session that established the challenges that AIM for Dallas will address. The day started with an exercise in which the practitioners broke out into interdisciplinary groups where they outlined the challenges for each area of project focus: pipeline, development, policy, and finance. In the second exercise, participants were separated by their area of expertise and, through a facilitated discussion, asked to prioritize the challenges outlined in the first session. At the end of the day, the prioritized lists of issues were brought back to the interdisciplinary groups who then identified the relationships between challenges, across the four workstreams. The output of Lab #1 will inform the next stages of the AIM for Dallas process by focusing the research resources on identifying best practices and solutions advanced in other communities.