Archives for posts with tag: creative placemaking

Joy Wulke is an environmental artist who founded Projects for a New Millennium,



The organization is about “creating collaborative events that foster the fusing of art and science as a means of discovery and appreciation of the natural world.”

Wulke’s work is now part of the nightscape of the train station in Stamford, Connecticut.  According to The New York Times, “The new look, different from one second to the next, was achieved for only $155,000 — less than the cost of a paint job.”

The project, funded  with state money awarded on a competitive basis, demonstrates a national trend toward “creative placemaking,” an attempt to make places more vibrant through artist-led projects.  The winning team, led by Norwalk-based painter and sculptor Sandy Garnett, included Jamie Burnett and Steve Hamelin as lighting specialists and advisers.  It was Jamie who coined the term “light wrangler,” which Wulke defines as an artist who responds to the character of light as a partner in creation.

Read more at:

Creative Placemaking Funders Symposium

It has been an exciting journey as Connecticut builds its platform for articulating the relevance of cultural vitality to just about every other part of life, urban and otherwise.  Grant guidelines are now complete – colleagues in the arts community and I have had a hand in shaping them over the past year through meetings and forums held across the state, at New Haven’s Long Wharf Theater and elsewhere.

The main question has been: how do we link cultural activity with specific economic drivers to make Connecticut’s places more livable?  As the Department of Economic and Community Development defines the resources it will bring, local Arts Councils activate their networks, and other sectors engage, the conversation gets bigger and more interesting.

I will be attending this upcoming event at the Bushnell Center in Hartford – happy to customize notes for anyone who wants a briefing.

The Center for Contemporary Culture in Barcelona has established a prize to recognize and promote  “public space that is at once public (open and universally accessible) and urban.”  In highlighting the “relational and civic aspects of the typically urban space, it differs from other initiatives that are focused on the figure of the architect, and from awards given for landscape-centred projects.”

A recent discussions on the Technology in the Arts group on Linked In spurred me to explore links to a project called Rebel Cities.   It details recent work by a French sociologist building on Henri Lefebvre’s work on “the right to the city,” urban regeneration, and the shaping of social interaction through urban planning.

The topic of the discussion was “Are Virtual Worlds Dying or Evolving?”  started by Tessa Kinney-Johnson, COO & Founder of SpotOn3D in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area.   I told her I see virtual worlds evolving into powerful tools dedicated to creative problem-solving, with inputs for citizens to co-dream with local officials about the shaping of their places.   The gamification of urban planning makes good sense given the shortening loop between customer feedback and innovation in other spheres of development.

I also see artists lending their skills to the design of virtual model worlds so that people who do not see themselves as “creative” can still be participants rather than spectators in crafting the design and master narratives from which their urban world(s) are constructed.  The focus is urban – because the city, with its layers of shared meanings – is psychogeographic realm set apart, a distinct kind of human invention.

These virtual worlds would, in essence, become cognitive maps or “protozones.”   That, is urban zones-in-the-making that might  exist – and even become fully-realized – in psychogeographic terms first, not by planners, but by people who then hire the planners – who maybe then need to subcontract artists – to make them occur in actual fact.

The situationists dreamed of an urban life in which public spaces were injected with new life, enriched meanings, and unscripted social interactions through participatory play.    The group PublicShape is dedicated to Winston Churchill’s notion that “we shape our public spaces, therefore our public spaces shape us.”

Welp, artists, gamers, citizens, planners…we can do that now!

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