NEA Exploring Our Town: Creative Placemaking Electronic Storybook
Across the USA
Creative Placemaking has been a growing field for the last twenty years and a programmatic focus for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) since 2009. Having identified the need for an accessible and comprehensive resource for creative placemaking practitioners, policymakers, and the public-at-large, the NEA sought to develop a practical guide and source of case study information in an online format. In Spring 2013, GO collaborative, as the prime firm, project manager, and lead researcher, along with its consultant team was selected to develop the Creative Placemaking Storybook.
The Exploring Our Town launched in August 2014, following a 18-month research and design process. This interactive, online resource serves a wide range of constituencies at many steps along the creative placemaking path and presents information for communities planning or implementing their own projects by providing succinct case studies, topic overviews, and applicable lessons learned from both individual projects and from overall project efforts. The resource features 70+ completed or on-going projects from across the country that received funding through the NEA’s Mayors’ Institute on City Design 25th Anniversary Initiative (MICD25) and the annual Our Town grant program.
Project Management; Research Design; Survey Creation; Focus Group Design and Facilitation; Writing; and Data Management.
Trail Memories Community Engagement
With a mission to protect and enhance the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail at Lady Bird Lake, the Trail Foundation (TTF) works to improve and enhance the Trail with infrastructural and environmental projects. In preparation for future projects, including a new restroom at Heron Creek, TTF wanted to engage visitors to fuel a design process with Mel Lawrence Architects. Using arts-based engagement techniques, GO collaborative led the community engagement process, comprised of an on-site installation and a Trail User survey (collected online and on-site). The primary goals of the project were to: celebrate the Trail and the work of The Trail Foundation; gather Trail User feedback about the upcoming Heron Creek Restroom design; and gather user information for future designs efforts.
For the on-site installation, a timeline 36 feet in length was constructed for a one-week period. The timeline featured photos of the Trail’s history and a map of the Trail itself. Trail users were invited to write down their own history as it intersected with the Trail and to identify spots on the map of particular memories. An orange picnic bench was also on-site to draw the attention of passersby and serve as a place to engage users in longer conversations. Over 1700 comments were gathered, filling the front of the boards and stretching onto the backs. A survey followed the on-site installation, asking Trail users further questions about perceptions of the site and its potential development. Over 10 days, over 500 responses were gathered.
It was abundantly clear throughout the process that Austinites and the city’s visitors adore the Trail. It is not only physically, but emotionally, part of Austin’s central identity and the place people go to feel healthy and connected. Through the responses gathered on-site and on-line, Trail users conveyed a rich picture of how they think about the Trail, and specific ideas to guide the future design processes.
Community Engagement; Installation Design; Survey Design and Analysis.
Client: The University of Texas, Austin, School of Architecture
Project Dates: Fall 2014 – Spring 2015
GOco is the lead artist in the design and construction of 10 material towers built with waste from model making in the School of Architecture’s studio classes. As a collection, the tower assemblies celebrate model-making, exhibit the diversity and volume of waste produced, and raise awareness about recycling and reuse.
Services Provided: Public Art Planning and Construction, Material Sustainability Research.