‘Toward Better Public Spaces: Transforming Our Cities Through Art and Design’

With Guest Candy Chang

Date and Time
Friday, September 21, 2012
5:30 pm

Creative Santa Fe brought internationally-renowned artist and activist Candy Chang to the City Different as keynote speaker for Santa Fe’s RE: MIKE event. The weekend-long project kicked off on Friday, September 21, 2012, with Chang describing to a jammed auditorium on St. Michael’s Drive how art and design can build better communities.

Over the following two days, Creative Santa Fe partnered with Surroundings on a pop-up demonstration of walking pathways and shade zones along the boulevard. Creative Santa Fe was one of 30 organizations joining together to re-imagine St. Michael’s Drive as a cultural corridor.

As an immediate outcome, Creative Santa Fe won inclusion of Santa Fe in the international Neighborland project, which uses the Internet to gather community input for neighborhood improvement. In its first two weeks, the Santa Fe Neighborland wall received over 600 postings and comments.

Who Took Part

Once again, Creative Santa Fe’s public program drew a sold-out crowd of 200. In addition, Creative Santa Fe staff interacted with many of the 1500 people participating in the weekend-long event. For many audience members, the Creative Santa Fe’s headline presentation was the first time they were drawn to an event in the St. Michael’s area, although it is now the geographic and population center of Santa Fe. Added to this core audience was a new, younger group of attendees, attracted by Creative Santa Fe’s innovative programming.

What We Learned

Chang defined the city through the lives of its residents rather than its physical structure. “Our cities,” she said, “are made of our memories hopes, fears, and stories.” Hence “soft” infrastructure—including the interactions and communications that are shaped by our daily interactions—are as important as the “hard” infrastructure of streets and sewers. Chang offered powerful examples of public spaces that allow and encourage residents to share experiences and visions with one another. Afterward, Chang observed: “It was inspiring to see all the temporary experiments at the RE: MIKE event. It’s this kind of attitude that is the heart of where great ideas come from. It’s about trying things out, keeping an open mind, seeing how it goes, and growing from there. Small interventions can lead to better-informed big ones.”

What Happens Next?

In the months ahead, Creative Santa Fe will continue to use Neighborland to organize community involvement in additional areas of the city, especially for its Plaza-to-Plaza project connecting the Santa Fe Railyard with the Historic Plaza. Neighborland is a new, integral element in Creative Santa Fe’s efforts to translate community wishes into concrete, feasible projects, using art, culture and design to improve our city.

Participate in Neighborland at www.neighborland.com.

Read our op-ed about St. Michael’s Drive in the Santa Fe New Mexican here.

Support for Candy Chang was provided by William Siegel Gallery and La Fonda Hotel.