A Community Organizing Approach to Placemaking

By ,     Apr 21, 2013

When a multi-year infrastructure project threatened to disrupt businesses and cut off neighborhoods along a six-mile stretch of St. Paul and Minneapolis, Minnesota, the team at Springboard for the Arts saw a transformational opportunity. Their response was Irrigate, a creative placemaking initiative that mobilizes local artists to collaborate with businesses, organizations and community groups to “change the landscape of the corridor with color, art, surprise, creativity and fun.” The project’s goals are to help local artists to make positive physical, economic and social impact in the communities affected by the light rail construction. Irrigate also seeks to develop and invest in permanent local resources and infrastructure that will attract artists and give them a role and a long-term stake in those communities.

Laura Zabel, Executive Director, and her team found the partners and built this initiative relatively quickly. How? They are a small but passionate team, driven by seven key principles that define their internal culture and outline their strategy – focused on the artist (not their work), relationship-building, working collaboratively across boundaries and seeing possibilities everywhere. Armed with these principles, the board and staff have a clear sense of what is aligned and what is not. This clarity empowers everyone and enables the organization to quickly assess and act on potential partnerships and opportunities.

Learning objectives:

Demonstrate how instilling a set of core values in your board and staff can allow your organization to quickly analyze potential partnerships/opportunities and mobilize once a decision has been made.