Grassroots, place-based arts initiatives got a boost yesterday when the artist Rick Lowe was named a 2014 MacArthur Fellow. Earlier this week, I profiled Lowe’s dynamic approach to arts-driven revitalization in “Street Makeover: Artists Bring Visibility to a Low-Lit Alley.” Lowe is currently working as a multi-year resident of the Pearl Street Project, an alleyway transformation launched by Philadelphia’s Asian Arts Initiative. — nextcity.org
On a breezy summer afternoon here in the newly renovated Sanayeh Garden, children are climbing the monkey bars, pedaling on bikes and kicking a ball by the huge water fountain in the park’s center. [...]
While this would be an ordinary scene in Paris, New York or Singapore, it’s practically a new invention for today’s residents of Beirut. Functional public parks have been virtually nonexistent here for decades. — citiscope.org
A Motor City Mapping app will make it possible for users to snap photos of properties and text them to the public database. (They are trying to brand a new word to describe this process — the awful-sounding “blexting.”) These will be quality-checked before going onto the database, and the hope is that users will participate in training sessions before pointing, clicking and sending. Several “blexting bootcamps,” will be held in coming weeks. — nextcity.org
Urban blight is the single biggest challenge to large-scale revitalization efforts underway in the city of Detroit, where roughly 84,000 properties and vacant lots are considered blighted or at risk of blight [...].
In an interview with DLA Piper attorney and ULI member Jay Hailey, Gilbert kicked off the Institute’s public/private partnership conference in Detroit. — Urban Land Institute
The Wall Street Journal calls this "Fighting Urban Blight With Art". Liz Thomas, the curator of the project, calls it "an experience that asks people to think about this space that they hurtle through every day".
The project is not actually fighting blight, of course - only the ability of Amtrak customers to see it. — Al Jazeera
Reminds me of NYC in the 1980's when the city put large vinyl decals depicting shutters, potted plants, Venetian blinds and window shades over the yawning windows of abandoned city-owned buildings that face the Cross Bronx Expressway.
As a result of the violence, the local real estate market has bottomed out. Those who flee the city usually can’t sell their homes and businesses, so more and more buildings, including some of Tampico’s largest and most impressive ones, lie abandoned. Buildings that could easily survive for another century are mere empty shells, with huge trees growing through the roofs and out of the windows. Such levels of abandonment are rarely seen in the centre of a major city. — theguardian.com
Shivihah Smith’s East Baltimore neighborhood, where he lives with his mother and grandmother, is disappearing. The block one over is gone. A dozen rowhouses on an adjacent block were removed one afternoon last year. [...]
For the Smiths, the bulldozing of city blocks is a source of anguish. But for Baltimore, as for a number of American cities in the Northeast and Midwest that have lost big chunks of their population, it is increasingly regarded as a path to salvation. — nytimes.com
In light of yesterday's decision to allocate a chunk of the $13 billion JPMorgan Chase mortgage settlement to anti-blight measures across the country, I also recommend this NPR interview with Jim Rokakis, director of the Thriving Communities Institute in Cleveland, Ohio. NPR host Melissa Block...
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