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Podcast: Creative Placemaking in Local Government with Lyz Crane

Posted on February 11, 2020


Lyz Crane

Lyz Crane
Deputy Director
Artplace America
Bio | LinkedIn | Twitter


Using arts and culture to shape communities. Lyz Crane, the Deputy Director of Artplace America, joined the podcast to talk about the work strengthening the field of creative placemaking, which is about integrating arts into community planning and development. She gave examples of how communities can integrate artists in local government including using artists to improve engagement. Lyz also announced a new Creative Community partnership with ELGL around highlighting these local government stories.

This is part of ELGL’s Creative Community, a partnership with ArtPlace America and CivicArts to write, explore, share, and learn about creative placemaking.

Host: Kirsten Wyatt

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Learn More

Artplace America Website

ELGL’s Creative Community

A Working Guide to the Landscape of Arts for Change

How to Do Creative Placemaking

Artplace America Resources for Local Government


Episode Transcript

Kirsten Wyatt

This is GovLove, a podcast about local government. GovLove is produced by ELGL, the Engaging Local Government Leaders network. We engage the brightest minds in local government. I’m Kirsten Wyatt, the ELGL Executive Director and today I’m talking to Lyz Crane, the Deputy Director at ArtPlace America. Lyz, welcome to GovLove.

Lyz Crane

Thank you! Really excited to be here.

Kirsten Wyatt 00:34

Today we’ll learn more about ArtPlace, a unique collaboration that supports and strengthens the field of creative placemaking. As ArtPlace looks ahead to 2020 and the completion of its strategic plan,

Lyz Crane

GovLove is looking for your feedback. Please visit GovLovesurvey.com and tell us a little about you and what you think about the podcast. Hearing from you will help us make GovLove even better. That’s GovLovesurvey.com. Thanks.

Kirsten Wyatt 00:58

We’ll learn more about how the local government community can contribute to and learn more about creative placemaking in the towns, cities and counties that we work for. But first, let’s get started with a lightning round. First step, what is your most controversial nonpolitical opinion?

Lyz Crane

Well, I’ve been thinking about this, and I don’t like mushrooms. But I feel like that’s not actually controversial for many people. So then I was having a, and I realized I was having an argument with a friend last week, because I was saying that I actually think we can learn more about policy and how we should be thinking about the future of our country from fantasy and sci fi books than I do from like any historical account of things that have happened. And he seemed to find that very troubling. So that’s what I’m going to go for right now. [Laughter]

Kirsten Wyatt

So what fantasy or sci fi book would you recommend as a way to learn about you know what’s happening right now currently in our world?

Lyz Crane

I feel like anybody who hasn’t picked up an N.K. Jemisin book, like the Fifth Obelisk or Inheritance Trilogy, you know, there’s a lot of you know, it’s buried but it’s in there and there’s some amazing stuff.

Kirsten Wyatt

Awesome. Well I thought you might like say like Lord of the Rings trilogy or something like that, but those obviously have kind of like two on the nose a little bit. Yeah. Good. Alright, so what food did you hate as a kid but you now love as an adult?

Lyz Crane

It’s not mushrooms.

Kirsten Wyatt

Okay. [Laughter]

Lyz Crane

I still hate those. But I was thinking about this and actually white rice. I did not understand it as a kid. Like it was just nothing. It was like why am I putting this nothing in my mouth? [Laughter] And as I become an adult, I actually like love rice and I will eat it with anything.

Kirsten Wyatt

Nice. Okay, that’s a good, that’s a good answer. Often it’s like a vegetable based answer. So, so that’s your kind of unique now amongst GovLove guests.

Lyz Crane

Lyz Crane Yes, I do like to be unique. [Laughter]

Kirsten Wyatt

Okay. What advice would you give to your 22 year old self?

Lyz Crane

Yeah, I was trying to think about this one too. And I feel like you know, don’t be beholden to your 16 year old selves dreams.

Kirsten Wyatt

Oh, okay.

Lyz Crane

And don’t forget them.

Kirsten Wyatt

Okay. So what were your 16 year old self dreams?

Lyz Crane

I just, you know, I had I had a lot of sense that I was going to go out and the world was going to be magic and I was going to fix everything. And you’re like, the reality is a little more complex. But at the same time to like, tap back into that idealism, I think is really important to not lose sight of.

Kirsten Wyatt

And where did you grow up?

Lyz Crane

I grew up in the DC area.

Kirsten Wyatt

Okay. And then if they made a movie about your life, which celebrity would play you in that movie?

Lyz Crane

This feels sort of generational and maybe timely given the month that it is, but I love Tory Burch and I don’t think I’m necessarily anything like her. And yet, if I were like, who do you want? I think she’s awesome. And because it is the month of Hocus Pocus, and she’s finally starting to do movies like more movies again. I think that’s what I’m going to go with.

Kirsten Wyatt

That’s a great one and a good Hocus Pocus reference as well.

Lyz Crane

So let’s talk about Art Place. So tell us more about yourself and your background and how you got to your position as Deputy Director.

Kirsten Wyatt

Totally. So I, my background is in Urban Studies and Policy. So I’ve always been really interested in how places happen. And I’ve always had the privilege to sort of work at a national scale thinking about community development and social and economic development, and always having a lens of culture and art with that. So somehow I sort of fell into this conversation about how culture and art can help drive our communities, and pretty much have been fairly consistent. So I worked at a group called Partners for Livable Communities for five years that works nationally. I went and got my policy degree and when I came out ArtPlace was just getting started. And I was like, oh, perfect there. But the interesting thing, I think, is working sort of, in what some people see as the art sector, but not coming from the art sector. I think it’s been really interesting to help how I think about translation and how are we taking what’s important from those conversations and translating it for people in community development.

Kirsten Wyatt

Right. And share with us how ArtPlace came about. And you know, it sounds like you’ve been with them since the inception. So talk us through ArtPlace and kind of what our listeners need to know about the organization.

Lyz Crane

Yeah, almost since the very beginning. So it’s been about seven years that I’ve been there. Um, so back in 2010, there was a new chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts named Rocco Landesman, who was really interested in responding to the Obama era policies that were preferencing sort of in looking at place as a unit of investment. So not just people, but how are we thinking about investing in places and realizing that the art sector sort of has a tendency to show up to conversations, looking for how can everyone else help the arts instead of showing up saying how can the arts really support the agendas of everyone else? And so if we were ever going to get more money for the arts, we needed to be in serious conversations with HUD and DOT and, and sort of the big policy folks. And so he started a program called Our Town and Our Town supported what they turned creative placemaking at the time, sort of a new rapper, to talk about work that had been happening for a long time that looked at sort of how arts and culture could support community agendas. And they required a local government partner. So that’s something we can sort of come back to, but all of the Our Town grants had a local government and an arts entity in partnership. And at the same time, he said, okay, it’s not enough to look at federal dollars. What’s going on in the philanthropic field? So he brought together a bunch of foundations, and said, this is the big idea. How can we support arts that supports community development, and they all created this collaborative. So we’ve had up to 16 foundations who are our sort of guiding forces. And we began primarily by doing grant making, so supporting projects around the country, many of which involve local government, and over time have moved into a sort of broader field building agenda. So how are we connecting practitioners together? How are we looking at and supporting research? How are we shifting practices in a broader sense in a more systemic sense. So it’s been really interesting. And we’re sort of chartered in this current 10 years sort of run towards the end of 2020. And seeing what we can do in the field, to build it between that sort of 2011 and 2020.

Kirsten Wyatt

And paint for us the picture of like, what did the field or the practice area look like before ArtPlace? Like, it sounds like it may have been kind of fractured, and like there may have been, you know, really high highs, and then some misses, like, how are people interacting in this space? And then how has this transformation occurred over the last 10 ish years?

Lyz Crane

Yeah, it’s such a great question, because we always say this work isn’t new. You know, that it’s been happening for centuries, in various different ways, as we think about what is the sort of cultural heart of our communities. But from a sort of policy or from a planning perspective, there was a lot like you said, of different conversations happening, there was a broad community arts movement happening in the arts sector. You know, there was the whole creative economy boom, which we can talk about, you know, in the in the 2000s. On the community development side, you know, there’s always these swings from, you know, as community development, just about housing, what was it about something more comprehensive. And so all of these conversations that are happening at the same time, sort of didn’t have a shared place to be in dialogue. And so what, what coming up with this sort of creative placemaking, “rapper” did was invite everyone into a conversation. So inviting the folks in the art sector who are thinking about communities into a more sort of dedicated conversation with planners and community developers. And so I think what we saw at that point is, is then a sort of explosion of folks being able to be in the same conversation and therefore developing new and sort of more sophisticated projects, because it wasn’t just sort of coming from one place. It was sort of everyone sort of thinking about that. So we’ve really seen, you know, I think in the early days, a lot of what we saw were sort of things animating and activating public space and communities. And I think as, as this sort of, “arts and non-arts partners” have gotten to know each other better, we’ve seen a real deepening of practice, where it’s not just about how are we decorating, but it’s actually about how are we shifting the way that we think, to take into account and respond to local culture, local identity, the artistic assets, the creativity, the innovation, and that’s been really exciting to see, move beyond this sort of, you know, narrow frame of some of the early work.

Kirsten Wyatt

I love that kind of just that mental image of, you know, bringing together you know, the arts and then the non-art folks to work together. Do you have a like one particular example or time when that happened, and it was such an aha moment of why this is so critical that you could share with us?

Lyz Crane

Yeah, I mean, so it’s so funny, this aha moment. There’s so much about this work that it’s sometimes hard to get until you experience. And so many people, this is something we see constantly with folks who haven’t had a lot of context sort of with arts sector or thought about it. Once they do, it sort of totally changes, you know, your sort of bottom line and how you approach things. And I think about like being here in Nashville. So the Nashville Departments of Transportation and Planning have been partnering with a group connection on America’s around some traffic, some traffic calming work on a really busy corridor, where they invited artists to come in and do some community engagement and sort of figure out what do people want? Where do people walk? You know, how do we understand this sort of rhythm of this corridor, and did that in some really creative ways. And then also, the solutions that they developed, were developed with an aesthetic that would speak to the local community, which was largely Latino. And so you have this way of inviting people to say this is your place, what do you want it to look like and feel like and how do you use it? And it was the artists who came in and sort of helped them do that. And once you sort of experience that you say, oh, of course, why have we not been asking this question about how, how these things show up in our built environment?

Kirsten Wyatt

Right. Well, and for me, it’s such a reminder to that, you know, on GovLove and in ELGL, we talk about community engagement all the time. But a perfect person to do community engagement doesn’t have to have that like government job title. It often could be an artist, or it could be somebody who has that knowledge of a community. And so that’s such a great example for our listeners to really think through, you know, what this actually means for local government. And so, you’ve been pretty honest about the fact that defining creative placemaking is is difficult. So share with us if you had to try to define it for our listeners, share with us that definition, but then also why it is really hard to just succinctly wrap up into one statement.

Lyz Crane

Yeah, I’m going to start with sort of why it’s hard. And then I’ll move into, you know what, what I think it actually is. And I think some of this is the words itself. Creative placemaking, different sectors with different histories in this work hear different things in that. So some people hear placemaking, and they think of the history of, you know, the work that Jane Jacobs has espoused, Holly Whyte, and the work that project for public spaces and sort of all of these things, where placemaking is about the physical built environment. And it’s about taking a space that sort of under activated and underused and figuring out how people are going to activate and use it. And that’s, I think, sort of a piece of of what we’re looking at, but we’re not just looking at the built environment. I think other people hear creative and they think that what we’re doing is talking about the creative economy. We’re talking about, how are we investing in and supporting the art sector, to increase vibrancy in our communities, and how are we doing that you know, thinking about place. And for us it’s, it’s not so much that creative is a noun as more of a, an adverb, it’s about creatively thinking about how we are making the places that people want. Other people, I think, take a lot of concern with the term making, because it tends to imply that there’s not already a place there. And so we hear that all the time. And it’s a really valid sort of semantic concern and not just semantic, it’s very real concern. Because there’s a history of developers and the real estate markets coming in and sort of erasing people’s identity and place because they don’t see it as something that’s valuable. So the term can sometimes you know, in one way, it brings together people who wouldn’t otherwise be in a conversation. There are planners who might not show up for the arts, but they will show up for creative placemaking conversation. And in other ways we recognize the term itself can be challenging. For us, what we care about is bringing artists as allies into equitable development. So at ArtPlace, we believe that we’re shooting for a world where communities are more sustainable, equitable and healthy. And to do that, it’s not just about the sort of projects that happen, but how our artists culture bearers and designers becoming a part of the process and practice of how we build communities that are more responsive to residents, and that are built in a way that the people who are living there actually benefit from the changes and can control the changes that are happening.

Kirsten Wyatt

Let me think, you know, I think you’ve answered this a little bit, but just to, you know, to make it very clear for our listeners, how would you describe how a creative placemaking project differs from just a city project? I mean, what kind of makes it, what sets it apart? What makes creative placemaking different, special?

Lyz Crane

Yeah, so I think some of the secret sauce that you get when you bring artists and culture bearers and designers into conversations about the future of the place is that it takes us out of a world of cookie cutter solutions, which is scary, right? Because everyone wants a scalable, replicable thing that, oh, I saw this in this city over there. And I really want it for my community. The challenge is that all of our communities are actually quite unique. And when we asked artists or culture bearers to come into a conversation, we’re saying, we want to honor what this place is. And we want to honor, honor what this moment is and what a challenge or an opportunity is that we’re trying to address. And to come up with a solution that is thinking about that moment in time, that challenge and that place, and figuring out how do we sort of come up with a unique way to think about that, and sort of, it’s sort of of the moment, it’s responsive, it’s generative, its imaginative, it’s sort of ticking off all of the boxes of the things that make us human and creative creatures and engaging us in a way that’s not just about sort of widgets and data, but it’s actually about our aspirations and our hopes and our dreams.

Kirsten Wyatt

Right. Well, and I’m a pretty visual person and, and I feel like as we’ve, you know, started down this project together and thinking more about how we engage the ELGL members in our upcoming work, I keep picturing, it’s kind of like the difference between if you’re giving someone a gift and you either put it in just like a bag that you buy like a you know, in the stationery aisle where you can like spend time like gift wrapping it and making it like truly beautiful. And like the bag is easy, and you just throw it in there and you give the person the gift and the gift is the same but if you spend the time with the gift wrap, and like make it truly unique and beautiful and like maybe make a card like it transforms like what is in that present into something that was actually meaningful use of time with. And so I don’t know if anyone ever talks about gift wrap to you, but to me that’s what I’m like thinking, and I’m hearing and I’m, and I want our listeners to really think through the idea that you’re still getting to a point. But you’re just doing it with so much more intention and authenticity, which is, you know, something that we stress as an organization. So that’s my random analogy that I use. [Laughter] Do you have something that you use to to describe this to people who are brand new to this field?

Lyz Crane

I mean, I will, I just want to reflect on what you just said, which I love. Because I think this idea of meaning and meaning making is in some ways, at the heart of this word. It’s saying we’re not just here to deliver things, we’re actually here to co create a better future for our communities. And artists help us make meaning and they do in a way that we can’t always explain or describe. And so sometimes, when I’m talking with folks who aren’t familiar with this, they’re like, aren’t you just talking about like a painting like, you know, like, What’s so special about a painting or even a mural? You know, what are, what are these things you know. I get it, artists can create an object, like it’s actually a lot more than that. It’s actually about artists bringing the, the sort of rigors of their practice, listening and translating, and depicting and showing, and sharing and storytelling. So all of these things that become very difficult to, again, sort of think about in these boxes or think about in these spreadsheets, but are actually how we, as humans make meaning of the world, right? So when we’re asking for someone, someone for input on a plan that’s coming up, you know, we can ask them a very literal question of do you like this? Or do you like that? Or we can ask them to tell us a story about their day, and how they move through space. And that’s going to tell us something very different than when we just asked them, Do you like this idea or that idea. And so there’s, there’s something about sort of tapping into the ways of knowing, that are different from I think how our institutions are often set up to hear things.

Kirsten Wyatt

Right. Right.

Ben Kittelson

Hey GovLove listeners, right now we are fundraising to support the podcast you love. Donations will help us take GovLove to the next level. And if that’s not enough, one of the rewards you can get as part of this campaign is a shout out on the podcast read by yours truly. So today we have a shout out from Hillary Rosslyn. And here it is. Hillary has a shout out for her dad who’s in Dewey, Arizona, and is a trooper. She wants to shout him out for his constant positivity, something she is lucky to have inherited. And also Hillary loves ELGL and everything they have done for her and do for others. Thank you so much, Hillary for supporting GovLove, and to our listeners that haven’t donated yet, you can find out more at ELGL.org. Now back to the interview.

Kirsten Wyatt

Well, and you know, I think another you know, common misconception is that these processes are much more expensive and take a lot more time. Can you kind of break that down for us a little bit? Like if we have a listener who’s saying that sounds great, but you know, we can’t do what Nashville did and have artists help us with this transportation corridor, we need to get it done. Like what, what might your response be to someone who is so focused on faster and cheaper that they lose sight of better?

Lyz Crane

Yeah, well, I think a) I think it’s, it’s not true that it, it’s faster and cheaper to do it. It’s not always true that it’s faster and cheaper to do it these other ways. Because when you think about the costs that go into, you know, often you’re hiring a consultant to help you with your outreach, you know, you’re having to get a venue, you’re having to pay for all these things, and you have to set them up and they can take months. And, you know, there are a lot of time and money costs to cities trying, I think, to get the kind of input that they want, where we have an artist or there’s an artist who works in the city of St. Paul, who she’s been an artist in residence with the planning department, and she noticed this sort of gap between the information that the planning department was getting and sort of how people actually react to things. And she came up with the idea of a popsicle truck. And she would go out with a popsicle truck. And for every question that you would answer, you would get a popsicle. And it didn’t actually cost you know, there’s sort of supporting this artist in residence. And artists, you know, their time is valuable. So we do need to pay artists for this work. This isn’t just sort of free. But she was able to find an old truck that was on the city rolls, you know, and turn it into to this incredible popsicle truck. And the number of people and the amount of input that they’ve gotten has risen dramatically. And it’s actually not any, you know, I don’t think it’s that much more expensive than what they would have already, what they would have already done or you think about just the sort of basic, you know, art making materials like this. It’s not a huge expense compared to you know, putting an ad in a newspaper, right. Like we spend money on things, already, in the work that we do, and in many cases, this is about engaging people’s imagination, and that doesn’t require a huge amount of cost.

Kirsten Wyatt

Right? Well, and I and I want to reiterate this idea of engaging imagination, and this idea that this isn’t just about murals, or like, you know, like, you know, putting us like a statue in one park and saying you have, you know, a public art policy. This really is about kind of looking beyond all of the work that we do and introducing creativity and imagination to it. You’ve given us some great examples. Do you have any other kind of favorite stories from the field about local government creative placemaking that our listeners can kind of get excited about and learn more about?

Lyz Crane

Totally. Well, and I’m going to plug our ArtPlace field scans, which are a set of reports that we’re releasing that look at the intersection of arts and culture and a number of different sectors. So there’s arts and culture and housing, arts and culture and transportation, public safety, immigration, environment, and each of these cases we’ve gone through to find really compelling projects that in many cases, you know, are engaging a full spectrum of artistic practice. It’s about how you’re engaging people. It’s about the aesthetics and the built environment. It’s about solving challenges in unique ways. So I do think if anybody has particular interests like I’m a transportation planner, like go read the transportation field scan. They are really inspiring and interesting. But I think you know, as far as like, you know, some of the some of the projects and when I think about city projects, one that I know we’ve spent a lot of time looking at and has some great work written up on it is the City of Fargo, who basically wanted to have a different kind of conversation about stormwater retention basins and not just sort of creating these like you know, mounds and dips [laughter] that are ugly and that take up space and yet are necessary. And there’s funding by the way for them at the federal level. So many communities are thinking about these. Their planning department worked with an artist, Jackie Brookner to think about how do we, how do we do environmental art and design in these ways? So what is the sort of physical setup for them? And also, how do we engage the community and conversations about what these spaces could be and how to activate them. And that’s resulted in some, you know, incredible public spaces, that, that are both serving the need of stormwater retention, but are also now sort of beloved community assets and places where things happen. And, you know, for those communities to have a conversation about what does space mean to us? You know, it just, it’s sort of taking something that needs to happen and then layering on something that makes it 10 times more powerful than what it was going to be.

Kirsten Wyatt

Yeah. I mean, it’s just kind of like a like a little spritz of glitter, and happiness, like on just a boring normal project.

Lyz Crane

Right, and achieving all these other goals.

Kirsten Wyatt

Absolutely. Absolutely. So, for our listeners who you know, don’t have that top job, they’re not the elected mayor or city manager, but they are working in a department and they love this idea of creative placemaking. Is this something that can start from the middle or start from the ground up? Or do you need to have complete buy in from, you know, the top dog in your organization?

Lyz Crane

So I think we’ve seen it, we’ve seen it start at all levels. We’ve seen, we’ve seen people who are sort of, like you said, in that sort of middle, middle range, who often as long as they’re meeting the goals that have been set out, they’re doing it by inviting artists in and they may or may not need to sort of run that up the, the, you know, because it’s, it’s actually just about finding a different way to achieve the goals that are set out. There’s a lot of cities and communities have Cultural Affairs departments or local Arts Councils, who can be really great allies for people who are trying to figure out how to do this. And then there are certainly cases where you know, a Mayor or City Manager sort of sees an opportunity. And it sort of goes from from the bottom. But I think we’re really interested in in this being a movement that’s about how we do our work, not just what are the flashy projects that we’re doing. And so often the people who are sort of thinking about how we do our work, are the folks that are either on the front lines, listening to communities and what they want, or that are, you know, stuck with this problem that’s been really challenging and need some new thinking, and want a new way of approaching it, or people who are hearing, you know, ongoing frustration about a city not being responsive to, you know, a local community’s, culture or identity or needs or aspirations, and are just like, I just need to do this differently. I need to have a different kind of conversation. And so, there’s a lot of, you know, there’s a lot of navigation that happens, but people in local government are really creative. They do that anyways. So a lot of times they figure out how to actually make that happen.

Kirsten Wyatt

Right. We own for our listeners. If you’re listening to this on your commute or you’re away from your computer, head over to the show notes from today’s episode. And we will include links to the Art Place field scans and those resources that you can look at. So I think also, it can give you a lot of inspiration to see what’s happening in other communities, and then how that might translate into your own community as well. So we’ll make sure that you have access to all of that with this episode, and then obviously, going forward as well. So if you had to give some like top three tips, let’s say to our listeners who want to bring creative placemaking concepts to their communities, how would you tell someone to get started?

Lyz Crane

So I think three really easy places to start. The first is that we often talk about translation and that being one of the biggest gaps because there’s a lot of people that hear arts and culture, hear artists and are like, what are you talking about? Why are you doing that? And for us, it’s about really framing a project in terms of the goals that you’re trying to address or the outcomes you’re trying to achieve and being a little, leaving a little room and being a little agnostic on how you get there, which might be with an artist partner. And so when you know, we mentioned the field scans earlier, those are actually great translation devices, because it’s us trying to figure out what are what are the sort of arts and cultural strategies doing towards the outcomes of that sector? So how do you think about a transportation goal and then understand how an artist might interact with that. So I think spending some time with those is a great way to get past this communications hump when you’re talking to your colleagues. And I think the second one, is, is sort of asking, asking for help from people in the community who might actually also be really good translators and know how to do these projects. I mentioned earlier, a lot of places have Cultural Affairs departments or local arts councils or really great arts institutions. And sometimes just having a conversation that says, hey, I have this challenge, you know, that I’m trying to work on what do you think or how do you think we might engage an artist or how what might we think about a cultural lens in this work, and working with people who do that regularly. And you might be able to come up with like a really cool project. And the final one is, I think, in a lot of cases, starting small, can be really, really helpful. Because a lot of times, this is actually about relational work. It’s about relationships. It’s about finding the right kinds of partners who can help you dream bigger and do things greater than what you want. And sometimes that starts with, you know, a very small, creative act, or inviting artists in to do a very small project. And then using that as an opportunity to iterate in something bigger in a way that then you can advocate within, within the city to do something sort of bigger. And you’ll start to hear where are those, you know, where are people afraid or where do you, where might there be some risk that you’re going to need to like address? Or how do you talk about it publicly in a way that nobody feels like, oh no, like the community is going to attack me because we’re working with an artist, like, you know, but once you start small and people experience it, you’ll get, I think, a better sense of how to pitch that internally.

Kirsten Wyatt

And along those lines, what are some responses to people who argue that local government isn’t the place for creativity?

Lyz Crane

I, if local government is meant to be the organizing function for how we build places that we want to be in that we want to live. The fact that so often we silo things, so often we rely on this really sort of stripped cold data. It doesn’t make any sense, you know. So I think a big part of what what we see this as doing is, is providing a sort of humanity back into the system, because local government is made up of amazing people who are creative and who want to serve their communities, and so often, I think are hamstrung by processes that don’t allow them to engage their full selves, or don’t allow them to engage the full selves of the residents and their communities. Like you’re just having a conversation about public safety. It’s not about public safety. It’s actually a conversation about who and how I want to be in my community and what makes me feel like I belong there. So how can you have this conversation about what we should be doing about public safety, without having a conversation about who and how do we belong in our communities? It doesn’t make any sense. And so often, I think that that is that is where we get these intractable problems that that government just can’t seem to, you know, get on top of, and it’s because we’re not actually tapping into what people want and what they believe and how they want to live. And instead, we’re just dealing with an issue or a problem. And so when we bring an artist in who can engage our imagination, when we have a conversation about culture, we change the way that that we make decisions.

Kirsten Wyatt

Right. I just keep thinking, you know, when we’re talking about creative placemaking I just want to start using a hashtag like more than a mural. I mean, it really is like bigger picture. And and and that’s, you know, hopefully what our listeners are taking away from today. But most importantly, and what I’m most excited about is work that we are about to start together. So would you like to share with our listeners, what we’re going to be doing and why we’re doing it?

Lyz Crane

Yes

Kirsten Wyatt

And we can, if you hear me like squealing and clapping in the background, we’ll try to edit that out because I am really excited. Awesome.

Lyz Crane

Awesome! So you know, we’ve been, so ArtPlace has now been doing this work for almost 10 years at the at the end of 2020. And like I said, we’ve done grant making, we’ve done all this field building work. And we’re really starting to think about, you know, who needs to hear and learn what, and while we’ve had some conversations, like, again, in the transportation department, and maybe if you work in a transportation department, you’ve seen some of those at Transportation for America. We haven’t really had the chance to dive into what does this mean for sort of local government more broadly, so not just from an issue perspective but like, how do we how do we, how do we have local governments be more open to the idea of working differently. And so we’re really excited to bring everything that we’ve learned over the last 10 years and figure out, like, who needs to hear that. And where can they hear that? And they can hear that through ELGL. [Laughter] Because you guys, and I think you guys are really sort of matching our values in terms of creating this, this bottom up sort of movement that’s member and network driven. And it’s about, it’s about it’s not just about a person’s relationship to their individual job title. It’s actually about a whole career of thinking about how we do government. So the idea of sort of bringing these practices, these stories, these ways of working to ELGL, I think is really exciting to us. And we’re doing that in partnership with an incredible organization, Civic Arts. So you’ll be hearing more from them, for sure, over the next year, and we’re going to do that through webinars through blogs, through this podcast series that we’re kicking off here, through cohorts. There’s a lot of ways that we’re looking to help start this conversation and getting more members in ELGL feeling like oh, yeah, I can talk about this. This is how I do my work. I’m excited about this. And then also, I think, connecting members into this broader national conversation that’s happening about this way of working because there’s so much happening and it’s happening so fast. It’s like a massive generational shift. And y’all are really good at massive generational shifts. [Laughter] So we’re excited to be working with you.

Kirsten Wyatt

Well, and we, it’s such an exciting path to start down. And for us to be able to share all of these great examples, and to push out to our members, the resources that are available. We’re so excited about the idea that it might spark more creativity and more imagination. And hopefully, as we continue this podcast series, our listeners will learn some new things, and some new tactics and some new project ideas that they can take back to their community. So we’re, we’re really excited. And it’s a fun way to start the series having you here today to talk with us.

Lyz Crane

Awesome!

Kirsten Wyatt

So one last question. And it’s tough. If you could be the GovLove DJ, what song would you pick as our exit music for this episode?

Lyz Crane

So one thing I believe in really strongly, is love. [Laughter] You might know where I’m going. But it’s definitely “I Believe in a Thing Called Love” by The Darkness. Because that’s what we’re trying to do here. We’re actually trying to bring a lot of love, I think back into the processes of how we create our communities.

Kirsten Wyatt

I love it. And I think as many people in ELGL know, a huge component of why we do the work we do is because we love our communities, we find joy in local government service. And so that is a great answer. It’s like perfectly cheesy for what we believe in as well.

Lyz Crane

Oh God! Cheesy is a good thing. [Laughter]

Kirsten Wyatt

I mean, it really is a good thing in this scenario. Yes. So this does end our episode for today and I want to thank you for coming on and talking with me. So as you heard in today’s episode, ELGL and ArtPlace are going full throttle to share best practices, stories, experiences and lessons learned about creative placemaking in local government. And so this means that we need your help. We want you to share your experiences. Listen to more podcasts about creative placemaking, participate in our webinars and engage with each other to promote this important concept for the communities that we work for. Stay tuned for more ways that you can get involved with this effort, including a widespread education campaign we’re calling the ELGL Creative Community and a more focused cohort style learning program we’re calling the ELGL Creative Cohort. GovLove is produced by a rotating cast of awesome ELGL volunteers. For our listeners, you can reach us at ElGL.org/GovLove, or on Twitter @ Govlove podcast. GovLove is hosted by ELGL, the Engaging Local Government Leaders. We are a social startup with the mission of engaging the brightest minds in local government. If you have a story idea for GovLove, we want to hear it. You can send us a message on Twitter or email [email protected] Thank you for listening. This has been GovLove, a podcast about local government.

Ben Kittelson

GovLove is looking for your feedback. Please visit GovLovesurvey.com and tell us a little about you and what you think about the podcast. Hearing from you will help us make GovLove even better. That’s GovLovesurvey.com Thanks.


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