Posts Tagged ‘public


Things of Interest…

Things that make me say “This is awesome!” these days:

The first is the work of Windsor’s Broken City Lab, an artist-led group that’s hard at work imagining new possibilities for run-down and neglected stretches of Windsor, Ontario. Windsor has been particularly hard-hit by the loss of good-paying industrial manufacuring jobs even before the latest recession came about and its close ties and proximity to the recession’s greatest urban victim, Detroit, make it an interesting bellweather for evaluating the recession’s economic and spatial impact on Canadian cities.

Broken City Lab also is involved in a number of urban installation projects aimed at getting Windsor residents to think more deeply about the urban spaces they interact with and consider how they might be improved.

They’re also involved in developing ‘micro-intervention’ pieces for use in improving small areas and helping educate residents about the potential for DIY-style urban improvement projects. Check out their Removable Garden Project.
As an urban planning student, I believe that any urban renewal or regeneration project must be driven in part by area residents and that the technologies, vocabulary and tools of the profession need to be made available and accessible to citizens. As a street artist, I believe that streetart can be used to temporarily improve an urban area in a manner that goes beyond just painting a pretty picture on a wall. It’s something that I’ve been trying to do with Swap Boxes for years now…

As well, two guys have created a rolling graffiti printer, which you can check out at Looptaggr . The idea of a dotted-and-dashed line stencil that could be spray-painted on sidewalks to create somewhat of an ‘urban treasure-hunt’ or a follow-the-line type of experience has interested me for quite some time.

A new and exciting update to McGill to Haiti is coming up soon. I’ve been derailed into a world of studio projects, deadlines, mayhem and confusing GIS maps which I’m only now starting to make some sense of…


Street Public Consultations

This is an absolutely fascinating urban design project which I love as a street artist, an urban planner in training, a visually-obsessed sorta-designer with an interest in grassroots-based planning and public awareness and as a longtime fan of New Orleans who went into urban planning with the idea of working in a disaster relief capacity.

The project is courtesy of urban planner/designer Candy Chang, someone who has managed to fuse urban planning and a passion for awesome art and design (something which I have been trying to do for what seems like ages). I have been spending part of the last two months thinking over the question of how I could transform something like the Swap Box Project or the Urban Journals into more of a thematic idea that could be used in the service of urban planning projects. They began as social experiments and evolved into means of ‘micro-revitalization’ that temporarily give a small area of public space a whole new interactive potential…
Swap Box


The Swap Box Project in Spacing!

I recently did a bit of an interview with Evan Thompson of Spacing Ottawa, and the piece can be found right here.

Spacing is a great magazine which focuses on urban issues, particularly those which relate to public space. You can check it out here.


On Urban Planning

It’s been a long two semesters here at grad school, and I feel like I’ve aged a half-dozen years in the span of eight months. I’ve had a horde of information thrown at me that I’m still trying to understand and relate to the things that interest me, and it’s been a fight to stay interested in the subject matter (a fight that I’ve lost for a while and am trying to get going again). Unfortunately, grad school (at least in this field) seems to work on the principle of throwing huge heaps of information at us with little direction or advice given of how to understand the information or even how the municipal networks that operate the planning process work and letting the most ambitious among us or those with preexisting knowledge of planning pull ahead of the rest. Hell, finding profs who share my outlook and who can point me in the direction of interesting resources has also been extremely difficult. But what do I expect? I’m a frickin’ street artist.

It’s a poor means of education, and particularly so when it’s training future decision-makers.

Then again, we’re not just learning a trade as much as we’re learning to decipher a specialized language which we will eventually become masters and guardians of. Planners, just like lawyers, economists, doctors and a number of highly specialized professions, are members of what one could call an interpreter class.

I’m still trying to think about how approaches to public space design and city layouts can be changed and how to get ordinary people engaged and involved in civic decision-making. But it’s a complicated process compounded by a large volume of often confusing information. If it’s hard enough for me, an urban planning student, to understand the material I can only imagine how confusing it must be for layfolks.

Well, I am looking at examples of what other cities have done in terms of improved civic democracy (ie: participatory budgeting), how planning power was brought down from higher levels and how other cities have dealt with public space issues. I’m also trying to get myself a position with the UN as a planning intern in Haiti, where there is undoubtedly a need for urgent urban planning work.

The saga continues. I knwo this isn;t much of a streetarty update, but there’ll be more to come soon.