Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Creative Placemaking

It’s been a while since my last blog post. While I was in the Sistema Fellows program at New England Conservatory (2010-2011), I posted about my experiences in Venezuela. Since then, I moved to Cincinnati, where I founded an El Sistema-inspired program called MYCincinnati. I was Director of the program for four years, during which time it grew from 11 to 80 students. I am thrilled with the success the program as had, thanks in large part to a huge amount of support from the Cincinnati community. In September, Eddy Kwon, an inspiring musician, teacher, and person, took over as Director of MYCincinnati. We had been working together at MYCincinnati since the program was founded, and under his able guidance, MYCincinnati is thriving. 

So what am I up to now that I am not running MYCincinnati? First, a little more background. MYCincinnati is a program of a non-profit community development corporation called Price Hill Will. As an organization, their focus is on neighborhood revitalization through physical redevelopment (mostly housing rehab), economic development (business district improvement), and a variety of community engagement initiatives, including MYCincinnati. In June, Price Hill Will received two-year funding from the Kresge Foundation through LISC to do “Creative Placemaking,” which they used to form a new position at Price Hill Will – Director of Creative Placemaking – the position that I took on in September. 

So now that I am doing Creative Placemaking, you may be wondering:  what is creative placemaking? This is something that I am still figuring out, and I hope through this blog you will be able to take that journey with me over the next year and a half. LISC defines creativeplacemaking as “residents coming together to make social, physical, andeconomic changes in their neighborhood through the arts and culture.” So arts and culture become a strategy for redevelopment work. It’s something that Price Hill Will had already been doing through MYCincinnati, and other initiatives, but this new position gives the organization a greater capacity to experiment with new ways to engage Price Hill residents in making their neighborhood a better place.

An exciting aspect of this position is that learning and experimentation are encouraged, and that is just what I have been doing. In my next post, I will write about some things I’ve been working on since September, and also a little more about the term “creative placemaking.” More soon. In the meantime, check out these photos from our Las Posadas celebration on December 18th!

MYCincinnati Performs at the Posada
Getting Ready to smash the piƱata

More photos from the event can be found here.