Day Two of the City Share Conference in Chattanooga, TN!

Day two of Create Here‘s City Share Conference was just as busy as the first, but we got tons of work accomplished, and we were even able to take a short tour of the city at lunch!

After breakfast, we broke off into our groups once again.  We were still trying to come up with a definite plan on how to re-establish a relationship between Windsor and Detroit, so Sheldon drew up a little indirect/direct line graph.  The seed-bombs with attached love letter is on the far indirect side, our projections are in the middle, and getting passports to citizens is on the far direct side.

After a bit of brainstorming, we came up with a proposed solution of creating a youth exchange program between Windsor and Detroit.   This program ideally would improve cross-border relations for future generations of Windsor-Detroit residents by fostering civic pride, cultural awareness, and a sense of ownership over issues affecting both cities.

Bijan, Veronique and Michelle brainstorming some more before lunch.

During our lunch break, we headed down the road to catch the FREE shuttle that goes through the city, that also has FREE wi-fi!

Not to mention, the bus was also electric powered!

Carta bus.

On the bus, on our way to the river.

Downtown Chattanooga.

Bridge in front of the aquarium.

Chattanooga skyline.

Walnut street pedestrian bridge, which was closed for construction.

Michelle excited that she found some graffiti underneath the bridge.

Some Chattanooga history on the pedestrian bridge.

Tennessee river.

Walnut street bridge again.

Sculpture, and some nice looking, yet not very practical (as the Chattanoogans claim) stairs.

Another sculpture.

Hunter Art Museum.

Myself, taking photos, as per usual.

Hunter Art Museum.

Aquarium sculpture on another bridge.

We finally found some graffiti in Chattanooga on their bridge!

The Delta Queen.

Across the bridge is the entrance to Coolidge Park.

Leo’s Handmade Gallery resembled Windsor’s Made in Windsor store.

Drink coffee and Destroy.

Piano sculpture.

Building for sale.  Reduced price.

Everyone regrouping after lunch at the Create Here HQ.

The group working busily.  We decided that we wanted to engage two classes, one from each city, in a three month long arts-cased exchange that documents, discusses and contends with the border between Detroit and Windsor.

Jason, Maggie and Michelle working out more details.  The classes would comprise of around 20 students each (10-12 years in age) who will interact in a series of increasingly direct conversations.  A cornerstone of the project will also be to obtain passports for all participating students.  As a result, they’ll be able to participate in four cross-border exchanges and contribute to an art piece that lives in the neighboring city.

Leading up to those final four exchanges, members of Broken City Lab will team up with a similar organization in Detroit to serve as mentors for the classes. Broken City has expertise in developing public art pieces, planning workshops, and documenting processes so that they can be used by others. With this base of skills, Broken City will help the kids develop unique channels for communication with their student-neighbors. The classes will learn about the other city, but more importantly, will develop fluency in the issues facing their own.

The whole project starts with a bang. Given Broken City’s experience with projections, it seems that using this format to draw attention to the permeability (and permanence) of the border is a perfect fit. One idea? A cross-border game of tic-tac-toe projected on the riverfront.

A series of smaller projects will happen almost weekly. These will be specifically themed to engage an age group other than our own. We imagine they’d dig a game of pictionary done via snail mail; a guitar hero Skype tournament; the development of a Windsor/Detroit student Facebook group; even a simple act of skill-sharing via video or blog. But what matters most is finding ways to encourage communication between the students that is genuine, appropriate, and easy.

The name ideas we came up with are “Love, Your Neighbour” or possibly, “Love, Your Neighbo(u)r.”

Some of the barriers of this process include the obtaining of the passports, finding the proper time to run such a program (during the school year vs. in the summer), parental consent/support, finding a good partnership on the Detroit side, man-power (since we’re volunteer based), and of course, funding.

We’d be able to gauge the success of the project by the impressions of the home city/away city and the comfort level that is measured of the home/away city after the project is finished.

Meanwhile, Justin and Josh joined the Wichita group in brainstorming ideas of how they could reconnect their city as well.  They came up with a concept entitled, “Kiss & Tell” which would spark up some community revitalization within Wichita.

Working on their presentation.

Michelle and I giving the group our presentation on all of the work we accomplished over the past two days!

At the end of the conference, Josh, Michelle, Justin and I headed across the river and back to Sluggo’s for our last Chattanoogan meal.  We chatted about the conference and shared our different experiences. Being able to interact with so many like-minded individuals at the conference was such a huge opportunity for us.  We all learned a lot!  Thanks to all of our new American friends for teaching us so much, and to all of our old friends at Create Here for inviting us to participate in City Share!

5 Replies to “Day Two of the City Share Conference in Chattanooga, TN!”

  1. Thanks a ton for the updates! I’ve been living vicariously through you guys on this trip!

    The student exchange is a great idea. As a parent of a teen and a tween, I hate the fact that they have this idea that Detroit (actually – the US as a whole) is a dangerous, nasty place and to have them develop their own relationships spanning the border would be a great tonic to that pervasive belief.

  2. Wow, this is really inspiring and exciting. We would love to get you guys to Philadelphia some day to brainstorm how our city could learn from some of your projects, and the methods you are using to develop cross-border communication… of course, across our river lies the foreign territory of… New Jersey! But we are also thinking about other borders, between city and suburbs, between university districts and surrounding areas, etc.

  3. Chris, great to hear from you — hope you’ve been well! Glad you’re into this idea, we may just be able to pull something off like this yet!

    Mimi, first off, thank you for your amazing twitter feed, we get so much information from it! We’d love to visit Philadelphia, so just keep us posted. There’s a number of cities that border rivers (but not necessarily other countries) that we’ve been interested in learning more about or working in to figure out how best to creatively scale an international border.

  4. Ah, Chris! Seeing as none of us are parents, it’s great to hear your perspective! I’m glad you agree that most children/teens have this skewed perception of America and that as a parent you would also be interested in a program like this!

    And thanks Mimi! As Justin said, we’d LOVE to come and visit Philadelphia and learn more about the creative possibilities of border cities! Keep us posted!

  5. Ok! Will be in touch — we are planning an art exhibit, symposium, and related workshops for April-June 2011 on “Mobile Mediality: Place in Motion” and that might be a perfect opportunity to organize a visit; I’ll definitely let you know, especially if we get some funding!

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