Thursday, November 19, 2009

So, what'd you think? And what now?

(photo by Chion Wolf. View the rest of the set.)

Thanks to those who joined us last night for Where We Live @ Real Art Ways: Locating Creativity, and for making that conversation so interesting.

If you missed either the live recording or the 9 AM broadcast on WNPR,  it's streaming online here.

We want to hear more from you: send us questions, stories, thoughts, concerns, etc., to, or leave a comment.

Also, please do tell us what you want to see next: what's important to you in Hartford? What conversations would you like to see us have for future events?

To get us started, here's Jude Russell's take on last night at  Scenic Root.


DM said...

Very simply in order to foster inclusion and the notion of generating street life or vibe, the City of Hartford should look into a relatively inexpensive program that would install a series of OUTDOOR community bulletin board kiosks that provide a forum for messages and point to the activity that is transpiring around town. Positioned on strategic street corners they would help begin transforming a compact desolate downtown into a something more akin to that of a cozier campus-like feel.

While the digital is becoming sacrosanct, these bulletin board kiosks would allow for a broad range of communication and ideas to be presented AT STREET LEVEL. The kiosks would be adorned by posters by professional organizations along with the small grassroots flyer from a local band or a yard sale - they would all would mix together - AND these structure/sculptures "stuculptures" would provide alternatives to illegal postings on telephone poles.

Even if every flyer is not always read, their mere presence will provide the notion of activity and a stronger sense of place in the overall scheme of the city.

Ideally they would be custom designed, perhaps commissioned by an artist to become a functional sculpture. I spoke with Stephanie Fortunato from Providence's Department of Art, Culture + Tourism after the show at RAW and indeed she indicated Providence was pursuing these exact measures.

A pic of a basic community board/kiosk:

A curious article published in the Yale Daily news earlier this year:


- C said...

Interesting takes on using community boards to bring a community closer DM. Certainly a staple of the Yale/NH/Trinity areas. Not sure if I would use the word "cozy" to describe them, but your point is made - give people an opportunity to spread the word about events in the local community, easily, openly

To extend this paradigm further, consider a similar "community board" externally-facing as well, tapping into the untapped bloodstream that flows directly through our state and capitol - the I-84/I-91 corridors. The fact that both of these highways flow directly through our capital is much lamented, but rarely "capitalized" on (no pun intended). Why are we not creating signage alongside these major interstates directing travelers INTO our city, instead of how to get OUT of / THROUGH it? How about commissioned local artwork on bridge overpasses and concrete pillars that speak to the diversity of our city's heritage, creativity, and signature events/history/residents? Why not a digital events board at each of the major on/off-ramps that could be easily fed from a directory of city events and tourism, instead of a massive sign off 84 telling telling folks to head to the casinos where the real entertainment is taking place? While we wait for these crumbling buildings to be razed or sold, can we not just cover them with a marketing sheet or rent a sign off them that serves a purpose other than speaking to urban decay and abandonment? I truly believe that Hartford needs a better way to get the "inside secret of Hartford" out into the public and tap this massive bloodstream of potential tourism that flows directly through our city. Rather than tear our highways down, how about really taking advantage of them while they are still here?

DM said...

Aye - perhaps the word "cozy" is a bit of a hyperbole when considering Downtown Hartford - other than Pratt Street and Bushnell Park, there are only limited streetscapes and landscapes that can provide that sort of vibe. A larger initiative will be to fill in the vast surface parking areas left behind from the late 80's mega tower demolition BUST - particularly on Allyn Street and Main Street. They need to be filled with human scale mixed use buildings a la Blue Back Square, and if apartments or condos are developed they need to encourage all incomes rather than just the upscale. We should be thankful that Common Ground will be providing some desperately needed affordable housing at the Hollander Foundation Center - 410 Asylum.

I like the idea of using the interstate infrastructure to promote city assets. What's the expense of creating digital boards that are dedicated to city affairs a la In a contract, perhaps it would behoove the city to require a percentage of the time slotted on existing digital billboards be dedicated to city messages and assets - and local non-profits could vie for it at a reduced rate - much like a PSA on radio.

Banners covering blighted buildings is terrific idea - perhaps one that could even be an extension of the "Awesomest Art Thing Ever" and involve local artists - YES! But even if it is a NYC billboard instead it's still better than viewing the crumbling facade of neglected buildings. Turn misfortune into opportunity. I love that concept.

At the end of highway ramps, and throughout the city, Hartford does have improved signage directing people to cultural assets and institutions with the green "Charter Oak" signs. I think they took the idea from New Haven with their green signs. I can't find a picture of one, but I will post.

I encourage the kiosk idea because it's relatively inexpensive and easy to implement as compared to the grandiose projects and proposals out there. Hartford's problem has been that the little things are often ignored in lieu of big bang type of projects that never fill in the gaps and make connections. The kiosks naturally invite people - the community - to inform the public of their events or share their ideas at street level - it's also part of a democratic process. It shows a level of openness and shows visitors to the convention center that yes, there is a plethora of activity here - and they can do it by walking the city - without the need to log on and perform a search. That type of street level interaction is missing with the exception of a few businesses allowing posters on their doors or windows, or rogue postings on telephone poles.

Post a Comment