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Podcast: Engagement, Arts, and Cities with Lynn Osgood, Civic Arts

Posted on March 10, 2020


Lynn Osgood GovLove

Lynn Osgood

Lynn Osgood
Executive Director
Civic Arts Austin
Bio | LinkedIn | Twitter


Intersection of community development and arts. Lynn Osgood, the Executive Director of Civic Arts Austin, joined the podcast to talk about bringing arts and culture into the way cities are built. She discussed some example projects of how artists have helped communities with visioning and design.

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

Host: Kirsten Wyatt

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Learn More

Civic Arts Website

Drawing Lines: Explorations of Place

The Art of Civic Processes

ELGL Creative Community


Episode Transcript

Kirsten Wyatt

Coming to you from Portland, Oregon. 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.

 

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Kirsten Wyatt

I’m Kirsten Wyatt ELGL co-founder and executive director and today I’m talking to Lynn Osgood, the Executive Director at Civic Arts. Lynn, welcome to GovLove.

 

Lynn Osgood

Thanks. It’s good to be here.

 

Kirsten Wyatt

Today’s episode is part of the local government creative community that ELGL is building with Civic Arts and with Art Place America. Last month we talked with Liz Crane about this new partnership. And today we’re going to get a creative placemaking 101 introduction from Lynn. But first, we’ll get started with a lightning round. What is your most controversial non political opinion?

 

Lynn Osgood

I think when I was thinking about this question, I thought, well here in Austin, we take our conversations about our favorite taco places very seriously.

 

Kirsten Wyatt

Oh, Okay.

 

Lynn Osgood

So when we talk about our favorite taco places, I usually choose the one that comes in second or third on other people’s lists, which creates a bit of a uhhhh, deal [laughter] I mean it was my friend. So I think that’s probably my favorite taco place is probably one of the most controversial opinions.

 

Kirsten Wyatt

Okay. And for our listeners who are in Austin, or are visiting, what is that taco place?

 

Lynn Osgood

El Chilito.

 

Kirsten Wyatt

Okay.

 

Lynn Osgood

They are awesome.

 

Kirsten Wyatt

And now the second question, if animals could talk which animal would be the most annoying to listen to testify at a land use hearing?

 

Lynn Osgood

I think a sloth because i think….

 

Kirsten Wyatt

Oh that’s good.

 

Lynn Osgood

Yeah, the the hearings can feel like a form of torture [laughter] that would prolong them, would would get my vote for most annoying animal.

 

Kirsten Wyatt

All right, and what is your favorite font?

 

Lynn Osgood

Roboto slab for typing something big and chunky with a very nice clean since they’re a font, like the metropolis for the text. But those are really good

 

Kirsten Wyatt

But those are really good choices. I feel like this is going to become my new favorite lightning round question of 2020 because you can learn a lot about people if they actually have one and I knew that you would be the kind of person that had a favorite font.

 

Lynn Osgood

So … answer our question, what’s your favorite font?

 

Kirsten Wyatt

All right and last one what was the very first concert you ever attended?

 

Lynn Osgood

This? I had great memories thinking of this. It was Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble…..

 

Kirsten Wyatt

Oh, wow.

 

Lynn Osgood

… in New York City, and I remember distinctly being a teenage girl there in this old New York theater up in some balcony seat on the sides staring down at the stage at Stevie Ray. It was awesome.

 

Kirsten Wyatt

That’s a, that’s a great response. And I’m glad that it also provoked some good memories for you too.

 

Lynn Osgood

Yeah.

 

Kirsten Wyatt

All right, so let’s talk about your work. And tell us a little bit more about yourself and how you got into this world of creative placemaking.

 

Lynn Osgood

So right now, my role is I’m the executive director of a nonprofit organization called civic arts. And our work happens at the intersection of the arts and culture community, and the municipal and community development sector. So it’s really looking at how these two different ways of approaching community goals can be brought together. My background is as an urban planner, as a researcher, and landscape architecture and so it really is, looks to bring all of those different ways of looking at the world together in specific projects. So sometimes that means we do arts and culture master plans. Sometimes we help bring artists into civic engagement processes. And sometimes we get to work with folks like ELGL to really help get the word out about what these practices are, how people can think about them, and how they can start doing them on their own in their own places.

 

Kirsten Wyatt

And you recently reached a career milestone. Can you share that with us, please?

 

Lynn Osgood

Yeah, I was very happy after more years than I will detail online. I finished my doctorate at UT Austin, which was wonderful. And and it was in, it was research that really focused at looking at how it is that arts organizations can contribute to our civic lives and our civic processes. And what’s wonderful is now I’m helping to teach a course at UT Austin on community engagement to urban planners to really look at how is it that we understand our traditional practices and how those practices can be expanded?

 

Kirsten Wyatt

Well, and let me be the first on GovLove to congratulate you. That’s really exciting. I noticed that you have PhD next to your name and your signature now, and it just makes my heart happy to you know, have you hit that milestone, and happy that ELGL gets to learn from your expertise.

 

Lynn Osgood

Thank you.

 

Kirsten Wyatt

So take us back to when you were just getting started. Maybe when you were a student, how did you get into this line of work? what sparked your interest in working with arts culture, urban planning? Local Government?

 

Lynn Osgood

Yeah, there’s a there’s a couple of stories. I think there’s the story of what what first convinced me like, Oh, this is this is something that as an urban planner, I really need to bring into practice. And then there was those first few projects that we did. It’s it started my most memorable sort of formative moment was when I was working on a project here, sort of deep in rural Texas, in a terribly racially divided town. And we were working on doing a downtown plan thinking of economic revitalization and how it is that they could make some physical changes to the downtown that would help their economic goals. And and so we were working with folks and and we brought people together for a long weekend or a long charrette and to look at things but in that we, we brought in actually theater artists, we brought in visual artists. And what I noticed was that over the course of working with folks, the the capacity to deal with questions, and to really have conversations with each other got so much deeper. And it started off in some very whimsical ways, like we we worked with the theater artists and to help, and she helped warm us up by asking the question, okay, what did everyone’s body feel like at the middle school dance? [laughter] So the Mayor and everyone else in town, we all just caved in, and we have visceral memories like that. And so it just worked with the power power hierarchies just a little bit. Um, then the next day we all stood around in a circle and and held little balls of clay. This was before we got into the design work. And everyone made a shape of the, with the ball of clay. And then one by one, we put them into the center. There was a table in the middle of our circle and we put the balls of clay there, and we started to create this sculpture and we you know, it was awkward and delightful. But they talked about what this process of co-creating this thing was, and then we dove into talking about the downtown and what what I noticed was because we went through all of these processes together of being awkward, being creative, being reflective together, that when we started the charrette, we had this whole agenda. And we and we were going to dive in and start talking about these individual buildings and ideas. But what happened was there were there were three older African American women who were there. And they started telling stories about all the times that they went into these places and were followed, or were accused of stealing or or weren’t allowed in at all. And, and as they started telling stories and more stories, they told stories, actually for hours and we threw out our agenda and and we all sat there together with those stories and and then it was at that point then that we started the design exercises starting to think of what’s going to happen in these little pocket parks or downtown facades. And I have never seen a deeper, more connected conversation about local strategies. And at that point I knew, okay, this is the work I need to do in the world. And and that was [inaudible]. And I feel very blessed I’ve been able to do it ever since.

 

Kirsten Wyatt

Well, and I love your description of things being awkward and delightful. I think that that is an intersection that ELGL operates really well in. And I think it also kind of sums up, you know, some of these public hearing, public processes that all of our listeners are probably familiar with. Any other examples from earlier in your career that or projects that you worked on that were formative and that you think about often?

 

Lynn Osgood

Well, the other story that that I think is informative to you know, to let folks know about the sort of the as these practices grew. So after that practice, we decided, oh, yes, this is what we want to do. But there was really no one in town that was doing that kind of work. So we realized we were really going to have to do like to create a new kind of practice and which is never easy. And so our first actual job that we were hired to do was we were very graciously hired by the Town Lake Trails Foundation, because Town Lake in Austin, if folks don’t know, it’s kind of like the belly button of our city, it’s kind of like our central park and located there on Town Lake and it’s a big 10 mile loop around it. And they and it was a project about a toilet. They were that this was, it’s on public land, and they were building a toilet. Now, it was a beautiful toilet. [laughter] They were having a very high-tech design, you know, like a spectacular toilet but but it was on public land. So they needed public input. And they asked us if we would help and we said yes. But what we so what we did was we created a 30 foot, very austere timeline, and it was it was on boards and it was elevated. And so in the bottom of the 32 foot feet of board was this was this timeline of the trail and then all these historic photos. And the rest was blank, except for this one large instruction that said, Tell us your trail stories. And over two days, we got over 2000 comments. People were eager to tell us about their connection with the trail. And then we looked at all those comments, we actually cataloged them. And what was delightful was that we found you could trace someone’s entire life cycle on the trail. There were many conceptions. [Laughter] There was the first tricycle ride, there was the first holding hands, the proposals, the marriages, the children, the divorce, the sickness, everything that you can imagine has happened on the trail and people were eager to tell those stories. And so from that, what we were able to do is then talk with the designer and you know, and then in those very early design conceptions, you know, like what is the site about, how do people relate to it, we were able to bring in this different kind of information that helped them in their musings of, well, what should this delightful facility be?

 

Kirsten Wyatt

That’s amazing. Well, and so our listeners are probably, you know, so they’re they’re hearing, you know, your first two are these two great stories to get started. And I don’t think anyone could listen and not kind of get excited about the possibilities of you know, what you’re describing, and how that might relate to their communities. So describe for us what creative placemaking is. Because I want to make sure that this podcast gives people kind of a foundation of understanding. So as we launch into this creative community program, we’ve shared that and to remind people that the stories that you just shared, are really kind of exemplary of creative placemaking. But give us that definition and start to walk us down that path so we can all understand this concept.

 

Lynn Osgood

Yeah, and I think it’s a great question to start with, because I think one of the things that’s so both is the biggest opportunity and the biggest challenge is that the incorporation of arts and culture strategies, which is at the foundation of what creative placemaking all is about, is really it’s about thinking about things in new ways. And that means and that can be hard because I think, you know, we have the way as professionals, as planners, as as community development folks, this we have the ways we do things and suddenly we’re saying, oh, there are other strategies available as well. So, at its foundation, creative placemaking is about bringing these arts and cultures hopeful strategies to help build equitable and healthy and sustainable local communities. And it’s really founded on the belief that everyone has a voice and some type of agency in that equation in some way of helping us thinking about how to get there. And so I think that the trick though in in the sort of switch in thinking is, and the shorthand I like to use is that we have to move beyond thinking about the arts as just projects. Now that’s important, like we need, like murals are absolutely a creative placemaking strategy, as are statues and mosaics and all of that, and theater and all of that. But really, this work is about thinking about how is it that we can use arts and culture as strategies, as actions to reach our other community development goals. So it may be food access, it may be health, it may be housing, and in all of these different sectors of our development world, we there are things that we want to do to make our communities, our cities, our localities better, better for the people that live there, better for the people that visit there. And we have the traditional ways that we do it, and and what creative placemaking is saying is great, don’t stop doing those. Bring artists and culture bearers along with you in your work.

 

Kirsten Wyatt

Well, and I think for me, the turning point as we were beginning planning for the creative community, was really in recognizing that creative placemaking encompasses two concepts that ELGL has, for a long time and very, you know, publicly advocated for which is community engagement and innovation. And that and that word creative is really what kind of sums that up. And then the concept of placemaking being the work that we do, ELGL members do at the local level. So it’s really such a natural fit for our groups to be working together and promoting these concepts. But for our listeners who still might be thinking to themselves, is this something that would work in my community, share with us some examples of how communities have successfully used or incorporated arts and culture into their operations?

 

Lynn Osgood

Yeah. And I think I think of project like projects happen at all sorts of scales. And, you know, one that happened, you know, at the scale of literally the scale of neighborhood meetings, and I think of, there’s an artist Marty Pottenger, who lives in Portland, Maine, and she had a project that was funded by the NEA number of years ago called Meeting Place. And because she, she actually was one of the very early artists and residents, and she had figured out how it was that that that she as an artist could really embed herself within the city, the life of the city, meaning the city government, and really bring her skills as an artist to bear and what she did, though at first she went to a ton of meetings. And she noted, as I think we all know, ELGL members know, a community meet or neighborhood meetings in particular can be really, really difficult. So what she did was she partnered with four neighborhood associations and brought in a team of multidisciplinary, disciplinary artists. And what she did was that she really wanted to encourage a different type of connection and relationship to happen between the residents. So really opening up the process, so that that neighborhood associations could actually reflect the diversity of their own communities, which as we know, so often they don’t and and she wanted them to function better. So she brought in musicians to talk about leadership and followship, talking about you know using actually examples of working with music to understand these comments, these processes better just to make healthier meetings and then and then what these artists did was they created artworks that celebrated the people and the places of these neighborhood associations, so  that people would really feel a sense of us, which is not necessarily always the, the feeling you get when you are in a neighborhood association meeting.

 

Kirsten Wyatt

Exactly.

 

Lynn Osgood

That’s a really beautiful one. I think another classic one is the Farm/Art DTour in Reedsburg, Wisconsin, that is put up by a group called Wormfarm who are just lovely and delightful. They’re actually artists from Chicago. And they moved and they decided that they wanted to live in rural Wisconsin and have their farm have their farm and they have a farm. And then they realize that as they were there that that their that their friends in Chicago had no idea what rural life was actually about. And and they had no idea about the the, the market the way that our food is produced, and what it means like when you talk about slow food, what exactly does that mean from a production level? And what do farmers face on a day to day level? right and and so what they wanted to do was bring the the opportunity to create conversations between farmers and and folks from the cities around them like Chicago. And so what they did was now this was an area that really had like the craft festival heritage. Well, they they built and expanded upon that where they brought in these stunning artists who did these installations, and performances, all in this 50 mile driving route. And in there, there were there were artists made craft stands where farmers would would sell their local wares. And they were places a conversation where people could really talk to each other about what was going on. And so it was it was a place of dialogue, but it was also sparked an incredible amount of economic activity because all of a sudden you have a whole bunch of people coming from the city up to Have these areas out of curiosity and, and the wonderful thing was that like all of this attention and creativity, then inspired the farmers themselves to start creating the artwork. So as these, as this festival went from year to year, you know, they would take silage, but there was one art, one farmer in particular, who took like one of those really long white silage bags, and the first year he drew a monarch butterfly on it. And the second year, he drew also, I mean, a very long caterpillar and the second year he drew all the he painted all these beautiful butterflies on it. And and so there was one farmer who just took his tractor and carved the word truth into this hillside so that you drove around, you just you saw this evocative word and so it’s a really, really beautiful intersection of all these worlds coming together.

 

Kirsten Wyatt

Well, go ahead please.

 

Lynn Osgood

Oh, and the last one that I think of, actually happened here in Austin, which was Forklift Dance Works which so this was like so if we’re moving up in scale Forklift was one that was a very large scale. This was a three year cycle of performances that really looked to highlight the the Austin pools because we have this beautiful infrastructure of neighborhood pools in Austin but as you can imagine, they were always the things that were dismissed and ignored in municipal budgets. And traditionally pools live for have a lifespan of 30 years and we’re at 50 years now. They are literally held together by duct tape. And so the parks department actually invited Forklift. Now Forklift is an arts organization that makes, it makes dances about everyday life with municipal staff. So their famous one is worked with called trash dance and they work with the sanitation department. And the folks of the department and their trucks were the performers. So it really celebrated the everyday work that they do. And and so the Forklift Danceworks is an organization that has street credit and a lot of trust with city departments here in Austin and the and it was interesting because the the the former head of the Austin parks department I remember when she first invited Forklift Dance Works in, and we all sat around a table and we asked her, you know, what is it that you want Forklift to do for you? And it said, it would be so helpful if they could help us communicate what our arts master plan says because we work so hard on it and everyone just seems to be upset and and doesn’t get it and and just and just pointing a finger at us and we’re at our wits end. And, and so over the course of three years, they created many performances and in the end what you know some of the the impacts they had was they were part of a perfect storm that got an additional $40 million bond, aquatics bond passed. There was an additional $1.2 million annually added to the aquatics budget that came about specifically because of, of people seeing the performance and really suddenly getting the issue. And, and, and I think it was interesting because we later a couple years later, we talked with the director of the parks department and said, okay, now that you’ve been through this experience with the artists, what is it that you think that they’ve done for the department and she said, you know, what they’ve done is that they’ve showed people why we care about what we care about. The the folks in this department, they’re from the community, they work in the community every day. They do what they do out of a deep sense of service. And that doesn’t translate to our spreadsheets and the policy points we make and and sometimes it’s really hard when we’re being fiscally responsible and and professionally responsible to create these reports to really convey that, and we can’t, but they did And it was that, that needed to happen to move people’s hearts and minds to supporting the aquatic system the way it needs to be supported.

 

Kirsten Wyatt

Well, and I love these examples. And as a reminder to our listeners, as part of the creative community, we hosted a webinar with Forklift Dance, learning more about their work in the City of Austin on February 26, and that episode, or that webinar is available on the ELGL website in our creative community section. So we invite you to visit and watch and learn and hear directly from the leadership at Forklift Dance company and also from Lynn and it’s a reminder too, we will have monthly webinars featuring topics just like this throughout the year. So please stay tuned for more information about those webinar opportunities. But Lynn, the thing that I really want to drive home to our listeners is this idea that a creative placemaking approach isn’t just about a mural or having an Arts Commission that meets a couple times a year. What you’re describing is this really fully steeped culture in recognizing that different approaches, creative approaches, build stronger communities. And so this really isn’t just an exercise for planners or economic developers. This is an effort for all of us working at the local level.

 

Lynn Osgood

I think that’s right. And I think of conversations with Nicole Crutchfield, who’s the head planner, lead planner for the City of Fargo, and has been doing this work for many many years. And and she’s she’s very forthright about you know, when they first started this work, they, they thought that they were going to be working with an artist to, to help with community engagement to reach those communities that they hadn’t engaged before and maybe get some new information for their planning processes. And many years later, after they were still working with the artist and it was an incredible artist, Jackie Bruckner, who unfortunately passed away a couple of years ago. But what they discovered was that what they had actually acquired was that they it wasn’t that just they had a community engagement strategy, they had an adaptive strategy, because they were still in relationship and in conversation with communities on these very large scale conversations. And they were finding out information in different ways and and in more nuance, and with more complexity and with and with a much greater range of audience than they ever could have within their traditional engagement work. So so I think like it’s, that’s it’s really important to bring it into traditional engagement work. And we actually like we do we help with a lot of that. But then but then to hold that, that sense of potential to realizing that it can actually become so much more. And it will become more in ways that you haven’t thought about what could happen before. It may not fit exactly into the way things happen, currently, but but gosh, when it happens, it works really well. And it actually helps you meet all your goals.

 

Kirsten Wyatt

Equity is baked into the concept of creative placemaking. And I’ve in all of your examples that you’ve shared, you know, that element is at the core. Talk more about that and what our listeners could expect.

 

Lynn Osgood

Yeah, I think it is. I think that’s a great way of talking about it, have equity baked into the core. And it goes back to that engagement you know, a community engagement and I think that’s why the like this is why arts and culture strategies often comes in early on it right through that door through that door of community engagement, because I think for so many of our municipal processes, there are barriers for entry for so many people in our community that that and you know, that moves me you know, that are things like language barriers and childcare and things that we you know, as professionals we really take care of look to take care of but there are also deeply embedded norms for what you need to say and how you need to say it they’re kind of right answers in the room and wrong answers in the room. And, and and a certain point, are sticky dots and post it notes. You know, while certainly logical and can help us make decisions and this is essential, really have a hard time at extending that welcome to everyone and bringing people into conversations about complex problems in in complex contexts with complex systems and in a way that that different people can touch on them and and I think this is one of the most powerful things about the arts. You know, I think way back to that example of like the rural Texas when you’re with the with the improv artists and and she she first had us, you know, standing there is in our awkward middle school dance pose. The next question she asked was actually Okay, what does your body feel like in a neighborhood park? And or like in an abandoned lot, that was her …. question. And so and so we all felt like what’s that feel like in our bodies? And then and then we move forward till we actually felt like Well, what do our bodies feel like in a in a in a neighborhood park? And it was from then that point that we began our rather standard planning process, like, okay, well what do we need in this park? What do we need to put in place? Who needs to be there to help it happen? What are the partnerships and all of that? But what it did was it opened the door for everyone to be there as I like to think in their full human selves. And, and as wonderful as the deep insights and you know, that that we bring to our planning conversations, the wisdom of communities don’t always fit into spreadsheets and bullet points, and we need to find ways of bringing that into the room. I also think it’s important to say I think I think it’s very easy to suddenly say like, okay, well, now we just need arts and culture strategies. And that’s not true, either, because I think it’s a partnership. Because one thing that arts and culture strategies don’t necessarily do, is it like they need to come up early upstream at that point where you’re building relationships, getting ideas, finding community visions, A little later down the road, it’s going to come to a point where you have to make like really definitive choices. And that skill set, I think planners and city staff actually have a whole bunch of tools that they can offer their arts partners in in reverse, about how is it that that you really, you know, when you decide this curb need curb cut needs to happen or not? How is it that we decide that? So I think it is a wonderful partnership, where we kind of complete each other where we where both of us struggle.

 

Kirsten Wyatt

And I think often in government, public hearings, public meetings, they become so routine because it’s our job, that we forget that that traditional format can be really intimidating to somebody who hasn’t engaged before with their government or who may you know fundamentally distrust government or be nervous to talk into a microphone. And so many of the examples that you’ve shared and will continue to share as part of the series, you know, is about meeting people where they live and where they’re comfortable, and recognizing that, that often isn’t behind a podium on a Tuesday night, you know, in a …. universe. Yeah, exactly. And, and I think that’s what’s also, you know, exciting and I hope that our listeners are taking with them is, you know, the word creative is, is really you know, what this is all about and, and how do you know, your community and then think a little differently about the work that we do.

 

Lynn Osgood

Mm hmm. Yeah, I think that’s exactly it. And, and it’s just really saying, like, we really want everyone and we want everyone with their full human selves to be there. So what do we need to put in place to have that happen and, you know, and to the, you know, to the credit of planners and other folks, you know, I think, the discipline worked so hard during the 80s and the 90s in the arts to really figure out systems of engagement that can be broadly inclusive. And I think they did, but then I think one of the issues is like the waters suddenly changed all around us and all the social media that we use, changes expectations, it changes expectations for what we focus on how we focus on it, how people engage. And you know, they go beyond social media and want to be more relational they want you know, they want sort of a clarity of how like what they’re working on connects to the larger issue and all these things that you know, we’re we’re just we’re changing culturally broadly speaking, and to meet those changes that may be happening more rapidly than, than we can adapt as professionals, we do need to look to outside partners to help us.

 

Kirsten Wyatt

So if someone is listening, and they are as energized and excited as ELGL is about this program, and they’re not sure where to start, what are some realistic first steps that they should consider?

 

Lynn Osgood

I think the one of the first ones and I don’t mean to be glib, but I think I think it’s important for city staff who drink out of fire hoses and deal in very intense situations, is to first just hold curiosity, as one of the most important things. Like if you could just hold that openness, because again, you’re going to be looking at things in in wonderfully different ways. And it may be by just, you know, working with the local school and a local artist to do a mural in the park. But as you start engaging the artists and this may be the first time the city has actually contracted with an artist. You know, it won’t meet, it’ll sort of meet standard processes, but then there’ll be new dimensions to it. So just holding that curiosity that like, Oh, we may we may find out new things and then letting that curiosity infect others around you. Because the next thing is then is then finding those partners in the area who really want to work on a specific issue. The thing about genuine creative placemaking work is that it is never cookie cutter there. You don’t you can never take an example from another city and just plop it down in yours. It’s not gonna work. What you can take is inspiration, but you have to find who are the people that have the ideas and the energy and the curiosity and you build those partnerships around a specific issue, find out and then bring in artists and culture bearers to start figuring out like, help us understand this, what do you see, how would you approach this? And, and, and what I have found is that, that investment of the partnerships, the relationship, the curiosity, the vision leads to the funding. It is not about setting up the funding first. It is it’s about having those coffee meetings, many coffee meetings and getting the momentum going. And and then when you when it feels like yes, we’re ready to start in these small steps. There are so many resources that are out there and that’s one so. So I think like these creative strategies, I think are as old as humankind. We have them all at arts at the intersection of our municipal processes, however, however you want to describe them. And and in fact, going back to our last century or last last century, the municipal art society in New York City even had this phrase that “to make people love our cities, we need to make our cities lovely”. Like there was an early understanding that that we that we need to have these strategies in order to connect with our spaces with each other. And and, and our normal processes are really important in so many other dimensions, but they can’t get it that. And then so that’s why we need our partnership. And so so in that, when folks are ready to dive in there are, the nice thing is, is that there are so many resources available. So these strategies have been around for millennia, but they have been professionalized in the last 10 years. And I think that’s the difference that we see. And the wonderful thing I’ll say about creative placemaking is that if you come across many different names, that’s that’s one of the best things about the practices is like everyone claims a different name. It can be place healing, it can be place keeping, and all of these nuances are very important. And but in this this last 10 years of developing these new sets of professional practices, there’s a ton of resources out there and and there are many now on the ELGL site, and of how guides and overview documents of you know how to understand this wonderful case studies that are available that again serve as that inspiration where you say like, okay, we’re not going to copy that exactly. But oh, we can do something like that. And so the nice thing is like as opposed to 10 years ago, where people were really kind of inventing it as they went along, now you can really find the, the how to and and there’s going to be new resources coming out very shortly by many different people. One of the most wonderful resources is the municipal arts partnership guide, put out by A Blade of Grass. And, and they have just done a tremendous job of of really detailing how do you do these partnerships? If you bring in an artist in residence, how do you do contracts? How do you figure out scopes of work? How do you figure out what good projects are going to be? All those ways that are both standard and not need to live side by side? There’s there’s information out there for you. So it’s a good time to enter into these kinds of projects.

 

Kirsten Wyatt

Well, and to further plug this resource library, umm share with us some of the categories or some of the ways that we’ve grouped these resources. So it’s, I think, even easier for someone to, you know, visit this page and be able to hone in on what it is they’re looking for. Can you share more with our listeners about that?

 

Lynn Osgood

So the resources that we have on the ELGL page, the creative community resource page right now are divided into three basic categories. The first one is conceiving arts based opportunities, which is, you know, how do we think about these practices, and there’s, there’s many good guides there. There’s a great one by the National Endowment for the Arts on how to do creative placemaking. There’s the Exploring Our Town website, which gives tons of project examples. Then the next section is understanding community development in new ways. And this takes us through, so one of the one of the partners on this project right here is Art Place America. They are, they have been doing incredible work for 10 years, really exploring and getting the word out about what these practices are. And they have done a whole series of sector scans, and that look at different aspects of how arts and culture strategies intersect with community development. So this can be food systems, the environment, housing, public safety, transportation, all of these ways that that we enter into community development with arts and culture strategies. And then the next one is, section about grounding efforts in equity and inclusion. Because I know for so many folks in local government today, the issues of equity and diversity and inclusion they are so fundamental to all the strategies that we’re developing. They are core, and the the arts and culture community has thought deeply about these subjects for a long time. And we have a lot to learn from them. And so these are some some highlights of resources that bring forward when we are bringing arts and arts and culture strategies into the community development world, how can we, how can we ensure that equity is grounded in them, and that we’re really taking those lessons learned and insights from forward in the work we do.

 

Kirsten Wyatt

And, you know, I think for our listeners who are already doing some of this work, the other exciting thing to share is the opportunity to kind of take that next step and to become part of a cohort style learning around creative placemaking. And when this episode airs, we’ll have the application and information online about joining a creative cohort. And if you just want to share a few words, if folks haven’t checked out that opportunity yet, why this might be a great next step. If someone’s listening and they think, okay, we’re ready. Let’s let’s, let’s dive in even deeper and find out more.

 

Lynn Osgood

Yeah, we’re so excited about these cohorts. These are going to be online digital cohorts. So approximately eight people from across the United States, who will gather monthly in a in a in a digital forum. And what we’ll do is that we over a series of six months will will we will share our own project work that’s happening in this area. So again, maybe it’s the idea of working with a local school and a local artist to create a mural at a local park. You know, really just like these first projects that are starting out where people are wondering, how do I do this? Am I getting everything out of it that I could? Do I have the partnerships that I need? And I think the reason that we’re following this cohort model is that we realize that in so many of these projects, the learning curve is not necessarily the technical aspect. There is that, you know, how do you do contracts? And how do you do all that? But it’s really this, this learning that we do together, of how do we think about our work in new ways, and through the lens of these strategies, and, and so there’s no better way to do that than to tell each other our own stories of what we’re doing and then to process like, when it’s challenging, how can we help each other with those challenges. So we’re super excited about those.

 

Kirsten Wyatt

And it’s, it’s absolutely a style of learning that I think ELGL members excel at because everyone is really giving and they know that this network is about sharing information and learning new things and opening themselves up to getting feedback about projects and programs. And so we’re excited to see how this first group of cohorts does on this topic. And I think it’s just going to be an exciting way again for some of our members who have already really bought in to the concept of creative placemaking take that next step and to become even more engaged in this community. So my last question, and I I know you are nervous about this one, so I’m excited. I’m excited for you to have the chance to share your response. But if you could be the GovLove DJ, what song would you pick as our exit music for this episode?

 

Lynn Osgood

And thank you for your earlier questions, because when I read them, it came to me immediately. It is Pride and Joy by Stevie Ray Vaughan.

 

Kirsten Wyatt

Awesome. That’s a great answer. See nothing to be scared of. You know, GovLove questions aren’t meant to be like gotchas. But this does end our episode for today. And I want to thank you, Lynn for coming on and talking with me.

 

Lynn Osgood

Thank you. It’s been a delight.

 

Kirsten Wyatt

GovLove is produced by a rotating cast of awesome ELGL volunteers. ELGL is the Engaging Local Government Leaders network. We’re a social startup with the mission of engaging the brightest minds in local government. ELGL 20 registration is now open. Our annual conference is May 13 through 15th 2020 in Portland, Oregon. May 13th we are offering a three hour intensive creative placemaking summit. If you liked what you heard today, the Creative Placemaking Summit is the place for you. We hope you can attend and you can sign up at elgl20.com. For our listeners, you can reach us at elgl.org\Govlove or on Twitter @GovLove podcast. And if you have a story idea for GovLove, we want to hear it. Send us a message on Twitter or email [email protected] Thank you for listening. This has been GovLove, a podcast about local government. [Music]

 

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