Sara and I spent some time planning out some very preliminary designs for our Grades for Public Spaces project. The gist of the project is to have a series of rubrics to annotate / grade public space — or rather, use those rubrics as a tool to generate conversation and engagement in the use and rethinking the use of public spaces. This project will probably accompany some upcoming drifts we’re planning.
We’re planning carbon-copy style prints, anyone ever print anything like that before?
The stickies — trying to map out the carbon copy part of the pages.
Over three days this week, we got a lot done. And, as I write this, stuff is still getting done. This is why collaboration is such a valuable model for art practice.
But, it’s not just about getting stuff done, it’s the challenges, the insights, the novel perspectives that can be brought up around a table that push the work forward. With some of us having worked together for nearly three years, we can anticipate one another and move ideas and projects that much further along because there’s a context, there’s a history, there’s a resonating understanding of what we can do together.
Friday night was especially fun. With next week being our first research report for How to Forget the Border Completely, we basically spent the evening casually going over some preliminary research, planning out some new directions, and getting more acquainted with the collection of border books next door.
This week’s meeting started off kind of slow. A long week had us collectively feeling strapped for good ideas, but we had a specific task list in front of us. Looking at the calendar, an idea we had talked about not all that long ago, suddenly has a pressing deadline.
We’re looking to put together another residency of sorts. This time, it’s going to be shorter, but more collaborative. Everyone who comes will have the chance to work with everyone else on a project that we sort out all together. The residency will be 5 days long, and then there will be a 2-day conference at the end of the residency where we’ll talk about everything that happened and more. There will be a couple of keynotes at the conference too.
To be able to pull off this conference though, we’ll need to write another grant. The deadline that we have to hit is October 15, hence the pressing deadline.
We’ve updated our imaginary campaign post to reflect some recent (positive) changes:
Our projects try to work around the realities that we encounter in Windsor on a daily basis. We address these realities creatively, and so the ways in which we address them don’t always translate to solutions. We usually try to suggest the change we’d like to see, albeit on a small scale. So, in continuing with this work, we offer the following:
We’re little less than 3 months away from the 2010 municipal elections here in Windsor. We’re not sure what to make of all the candidates entirely at this point, though it’s encouraging to see so many people entering the process.
It’s essentially a given that we’ll have the same mayor for a third term (or maybe not?), but we’ll likely see a number of new councillors. This is, in large part, due to the new 10 Ward system along with promises from councillors to not run again.
In hopes of imaging a greater city, we’d like to propose the following platform. It has gaps, it’s biased, it’s potentially unfundable, but it’s a list of ideas that we think could make Windsor a better place to live:
Have at least two open-air city council meetings at Charles Clark Square, encourage a large audience, showcase democracy in action.
Find a private partner and retrofit the Armouries tomorrow: get the WSO their permanent venue, renovate smaller spaces for artist studios, and keep larger rooms for small theatre performances.
Sort out the Capitol Theatre appropriately. Clear the way to make it easier for WIFF to do more screenings, for Artcite to stay put (if they want to), for community theatre groups to do more performances, and to give Media City a consistent and reliable venue.
Raise the cost of keeping buildings vacant. Do this immediately.
Encourage small businesses to locate downtown by offering free-rent for the first 6 months they’re in business. It didn’t take long — some folks picked up on that idea. Offer rent at 50% for the following 6 months if the business hires to 2 of more employees in the first 6 months.
Connect Transit Windsor with Tecumseh and the county with express buses, and do a better job at integrating with Detroit, get aggressive with promoting the use of public transit for everyday commutes.
Commit to planting more trees on those barren stretches of sidewalks. Who wants to walk next to 4 lanes of traffic in the baking sun?
Get bikes lanes in that make sense, ask the everyday riders where they go and how they like to get there, cross-reference that information with new public transit plans to make it easy to bike short commutes and dead simple to connect to the transit system for longer ones.
Initiate an aggressive campaign to retain talent that graduates from the University and St. Clair. It’s unacceptable to sit idly by as our best and brightest move to bigger cities. Short-term subsidies to start a business fresh out of school, 6 months of free studio / rehearsal space for artists, musicians, and performers. Tell the world that we are doing this.
Empower and fund people at the city like Jim Yanchula to act on their ideas.
Give the Cultural Affairs Office the resources to do good things and help that office to understand the needs of the arts and cultural community.
Create an international competition to design gateways for our city (at the border and from the 401 at the least), then make sure there’s money to actually build these gateways. Advertisements should not be allowed.
Start an innovation prize by partnering with Essex County and appropriate Economic Development entities to solve large problems and reward real innovation happening here.
Convert 30% of riverfront and other key city-owned spaces to naturalized areas.
Make the deep and rich histories of this region a part of everyday life — provide artists, community leaders, local historians, and elders resources to demarcate small and large historical occurrences.
Own and embrace that we are an international city with an unbelievable wealth of multi-cultural communities.
If you’re running for council, please steal these ideas.
This week’s Office Hours were busy, hectic, and (I think) productive. There we some new faces around the table, which is always great, and lots to do in terms of planning and organizing. Breaking into groups made sense and we pushed forward on a bunch of things in parallel, but I’m looking forward to the show next week when we can all be around one table working together collaboratively.