Online Marketplace Improves City Infrastructure Through Art Projects
Cities are looking to engage the public without going through the traditional town meetings
As cities expand, urban planning requires a lot of thinking outside-the-box. It also means that public engagement is more crucial than ever, because everyone deserves a say in how their neighborhood develops and grows. In an effort to engage people in important conversations and create a stronger sense of community, Ready Go is an online marketplace where local governments, organizations, community groups and others can hire artists who have created interesting installations designed to engage people. It is an initiative of Springboard for the Arts, a nonprofit that helps communities around the nation develop artist-led economic and community development initiatives.
Artists on the site are allowed to create whatever they see fit. However, they must ensure that the installation can be easily transported or mobile. In Fridley, Minnesota the “Free Speech Machine,” a soapbox with a large red megaphone and a recorder by artist Monica Sheets, was used by the city to inspire residents to speak out and talk about what they want to see as part of their community’s future. In Minneapolis, The People’s Center Health Services organization hired artist Peter Haakon Thompson to put up his “Temporary Tennis Table Trailer” this past summer to engage Somali immigrants in the local neighborhood in learning more about their health services. This was done in hopes of creating a more inviting environment, edging away from how most people view health clinics.
Mobile Spa by artist Anthony Emanuel (credit: Bruce Silcox)
Laura Zabel, executive director of Springboard for the Arts, explains, “We made Ready Go to make it easier for cities, towns and community groups to connect directly to artists who can help them engage the public in fun and creative ways. These projects are all designed to help solicit community feedback, surface new ideas, break down barriers and give people shared experiences. We believe that connecting to and strengthening civic creative capacity is key to building healthier communities and Ready Go is a tool to make that connection.”
The desire is to capture the interest of the community and ensure that these tools actually result in more interaction. The hope is that more organizations and local governments start to use more Ready Go projects to engage citizens, creating a warm, collaborative environment where people have a voice in community planning and development projects.
Header image: Temporary Tennis Table Trailer by artist Peter Haakon Thompson (credit: Bruce Silcox)
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Katie Salen Tekinbas is a game designer, animator and educator. She is a professor in the DePaul University College of Computing and Digital Media. Previously, she has taught at Parsons' New School for Design, the University of Texas at Austin, New York University and the Rhode Island School of Design.