All posts tagged: community economic development

The Working Waterfront Festival’s 10th Anniversary

Over the summer I interviewed some of the participants in New Bedford’s Working Waterfront Festival. I wanted to know what this festival, which was celebrating its 10th year, has meant to them. Here’s the product of that project — a retrospective video that was shown at the festival and has given the festival production team a reminder about why they do what they do, and why it’s important. We all need those reminders sometimes. I am excited by this because it’s an example of how evaluation can be built into the work of a project, organically. The festival produces lots of oral histories from members of the commercial fishing community; producing an oral history of the festival, of sorts, just makes sense. This project will continue to grow, as more visitors and participants in the festival get excited about sharing their memories and reflections. I can’t wait to see where it — and the festival — goes.

Step into a Fisherman’s Boots

The Working Waterfront Festival in New Bedford, MA is two things, at the same time: it’s a moment when the commercial fishing industry shares its stories, secrets and skills with visitors, both local and tourist alike.  But it’s also a time for those fishermen to get together, as a community of their own.  I’m working with the Festival this year to help celebrate their 10th year in existence — a longevity that is hard won, a testament to the real love of the festival that all participants share.  I spoke with the Director of the festival, folklorist Laura Orleans, about what the festival means to her: Like what you hear?  Keep the festival going strong, and join our community, by giving to our Indiegogo campaign.

citysumption and the search for urban cool.

As I’ve already told you, I recently got back from a trip to Europe.  As always, the return to Boston was a bit of a shock, as I lamented, “Boston just isn’t cool.”  Barcelona, where I had just been, just had this effortless excitement to it, a laid back sense of style and innovation, sporting incredibly innovative architecture from Gaudi to contemporary, from tapas on the street to dancing in the squares. What does Boston have?  A food-truck inferiority complex and a half-working waterfront park?  Where’s the beach and the outdoor bars til 5am?  And why, oh, why don’t we turn our incredible seafood into conservas for me to nibble while drinking cava in the sun, or in a packed bar of people drinking vermouth and nibbling on salty, briny snacks? So, in order to try to snap myself out of this malaise, I proceeded to do the “cool” things in Boston.  Most notably, I head to the SoWA open market, “Boston’s original art and indie design market.”  If you know where this is going, …

a real renaissance: the arts in western MA.

Earlier this summer, I attended the Creative Communities Exchange in North Adams, MA, home to Mass MoCA.  North Adams has become something of a poster child for the creative economy, as the museum is housed in a former textile mill and the arts community has been a bright spot in the relatively dim economic outlook of the town and the region as a whole. A bit of context: North Adams is located in the Berkshires, home to countless nationally recognized arts organizations, such as Tanglewood and the Jacob’s Pillow dance festival, the Clark Museum and Shakespeare & Co.  There are already lots of arts supporters in the area.  There are already lots of artists in the area.  Essential to this story is the fact that the MoCA’s success is not replicable everywhere, and instead represents a well thought out, place-based strategy for post-industrial redevelopment.  The Berkshires now boasts an incredible creative economy advocacy organization, Berkshire Creative, one of the hosts of the conference.  They recognize that cultural production in their region can be a major …

on austerity, violence, and what it takes to be a citizen.

Today I want to try to bring together a couple of narrative threads that I’ve been picking up and mulling over lately.  I don’t always talk about current events here, but it just seems too important to ignore at this moment.  *NB* this is an edited version, after some comments and suggestions I’ve received.  Thanks for contributing, always, and making me think twice!  That’s my favorite thing about blogs. First of all, I can’t not mention the recent Congressional showdown over the budget ceiling, its lamentable end result, and the subsequent downgrading of the US credit rating and continuing stock market collapse.  You know the details already, and are probably sick of the play-by-play.  But if not, I like this article by Krugman from this morning’s Times, and this analysis by the paper’s Editorial board.  But I think there’s an urban, spatial aspect to this issue that isn’t sufficiently discussed in the analysis.  Okay, maybe it’s just how I always look at things.  But you can’t deny that something more is going on here than …

good jobs.

If you follow my twitter feed, you know that I’ve been thinking about jobs lately.  Well, okay, everyone’s thinking about jobs lately.  The president’s talking about it, the media’s dancing around it, my job is all about it, Richard Florida as usual is writing  about it.  But lately I’ve been thinking about not just what we’re saying about jobs, but, more importantly, what kind of jobs we’re talking about. Last semester, I did a design studio project about economic development in Boston’s Innovation District.  I argued that creative and innovation economy strategies, which focus on highly skilled jobs and highly educated workforces, drive a wedge between the rich and the poor, a wedge that is growing faster in New England than anywhere else.  New England, and in particular New England cities, are  one of the most highly educated regions of the country, most equipped to take advantage of the innovation economy.  And that’s what everyone’s talking about…the rise of cities as a hub of economic generation, the emergence of technology as a key for American …

Experiments in pop-up democracy

You’re probably wondering what I’m up to these days, since it’s certainly not writing on this blog.  Well, a lot actually!  I’m working on a lot of projects for school that build on the topics I write about here, like historic preservation and economic development, informal food economies, public art happenings, and, of course, politics.  Speaking of which, I have started working on a project on experiments in “pop-up democracy,” which takes the artist interventions I admire and imagines how they could be transformed to serve a more direct political purpose such as encouraging voter turnout and educated community input into planning decisions.   You can see my proposal for a pop-up democracy framework on Participedia (which is awesome and you should check out). Next step: making something pop up!