SUMMARY: Founded by artist Mary Miss, City as Living Laboratory is building a replicable FRAMEWORK for innovative artists of all disciplines to lead collaborative teams that address the pressing environmental challenges of our time, activated through place-based experience to make sustainability personal, visceral, tangible, and encourages citizen and governmental action.
PROBLEM SPACE: Cities are ecosystems. While the general public does not normally think of cities when they use the word ‘ecosystem’, the people who plan, operate and live in the city are confronted with a series of problems that arise from malfunctioning of urban ecosystem processes.
Cities are engineered to support dense populations, whose lifestyles and decisions, made over time, critically effect the land, water, soils and species (including people) of the urban landscape, with ramifications that extend far beyond the city’s boundaries. And cities are becoming the most important habitat for human beings in the 21st century.
Fortunately cities are also places where people learn, adapt and implement new ways of living. MM/CaLL’s primary goal, to unleash the under-utilized resources of creativity, is to address our most critical environmental challenges through artist-led collaborations that seed project sites, with installations, programs, interactive activities and events that engage citizens at street level while setting examples that can extend to other sites and cities over time. With input from an array of experts, municipal agencies, community partners, students, and the public, these activities are conceived to nurture partnerships among disciplines, communities, institutions, and neighborhoods as they work together toward shared environmental and sustainability goals.
SOLUTION: The CaLL FRAMEWORK is an iterative process that involves on-the-ground research, including consultation with scientists and experts, along with key community groups and stake-holders. CaLL activates this FRAMEWORK through a variety of program strategies that have been synthesized from experiments over the past decade and are informed by Mary Miss’ life-long experience as a groundbreaking environmental artist. The strategies have emerged from major projects including: FLOW: (Can you See the River)? at 100 sites along the White River, Indianapolis (2011-2013), and the subsequent project Indianapolis/City as Living Laboratory (I/CaLL) (2013-2017); Civic Action, Ravenswood/City as Living Laboratory (R/CaLL) (2011-2012); and BROADWAY: 1000 Steps (B/CaLL) which began with a test installation at the 137th St. hub in 2011 and is on-going.
Integrated strategies advanced by Miss and the team include:
— Deployment of the CaLL Toolkit;
— WALKS, placed-based public dialogues between artists and scientist that explore new ideas and solutions;
— WORKSHOPS, facilitated sessions that allow ideas for innovation and change to emerge from community responses/reflections as a means to generate ideas and tactics, while building grass roots support for proposed projects; and
— Full-scale PROPOSALS from the most promising teams with detailed implementation schemes, accompanied by cost projections.
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