"Artist uses creativity to build community connections" by Hunter Franks on Knight Blog
MIAMI—(Feb. 25, 2014)— A new creative placemaking project will promote playful, spontaneous interactions among people in four cities, to break down barriers and strengthen a sense of community. The Creative Interventions Tour is led by artist Hunter Franks and supported by more than $55,000 from Knight Foundation.
Starting in Macon, Ga., Franks will undertake three-week trips to four communities where Knight invests including: Akron, Ohio; Detroit; Macon; and Philadelphia. Franks will lead workshops that bring people from diverse social and economic backgrounds together. He will craft the interactive activities with input from local organizations, taking into account specific community needs. Franks will document his experiences in each of the cities to share lessons and assess how small-scale, temporary interventions can create wide community impact.
For example, one activity, Vacant Love, will mobilize people to write love letters to their neighborhood; the letters will then be posted on a vacant building and a fundraising event will be held to help restore the building. Another activity, the Free Portrait Project, will provide locals with a personal Polaroid portrait in exchange for a story about their first love. A copy of their portrait will then be displayed in a public space along with the story for passersby to peruse, ultimately creating connections between neighbors.
“People increasingly find themselves isolated, having contact only with people who share their political views, their economic status and their intense interests. This limits the potential for all of us to learn from each other and create communities that embrace progress together,” said Carol Coletta, Knight Foundation vice president of community and national initiatives. “This project is a fast, fun way to start building community without waiting for longer-term initiatives to take shape.”
“I am extremely excited to work with residents of these four unique communities to inspire and enable spontaneous interactions that will lead to more robust and sustained engagement,” said Franks. “People really do want to connect; sometimes they just don't know how. The Creative Interventions Tour will not only help people talk to each other, but also help them build meaningful and lasting relationships with each other and their community. The project will utilize lightweight urban interventions as a powerful introduction to helping people envision and create the city that they want to live in.”
Working with community organizations and residents, Franks will also create a League of Creative Interventionists chapter in each city to help sustain the project. Founded by Franks, the League of Creative Interventionists is a worldwide network of people who work to build community through creativity. Franks will engage leaders and other residents to join the chapter and stage ongoing participatory interventions into the future.
Additionally, Franks will expand his SF Postcard Project to communities across the country. Initially launched in San Francisco, the project collects personal stories from people living in marginalized neighborhoods and sends them out to random local residents to foster community connections. With Knight support Franks will develop a Neighborhood Postcard Project to make the Web platform usable in any community.
About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. www.knightfoundation.org
About Hunter Franks
Hunter is a San Francisco based artist who uses creativity to build community. His unique participatory projects create shared spaces and experiences that break down social barriers and catalyze connections between people and communities. www.hunterfranks.com
Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit www.knightfoundation.org.