Celebrating a Macon trail with art, campfires and storytelling

We had previously worked in Macon, with the "Lost Keys", "Macon Haikus" "Walk Your City" and other projects done by the Macon League Chapter.  We went back to Macon and met with local leaders and partners to identify an area in Macon that was in need of a creative intervention. We partnered with Bike Walk Macon, Newtown Macon, and the Knight Foundation. Together we decided on the Macon Ocmulgee Heritage Trail, as it touched numerous neighborhoods, was connected with downtown and a had an existing area for residents of all ages to enjoy that could be improved. 

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We started with a community clean up and vision walk to hear from residents and trail visitors how they feel about the trail, how often they visit the trail and what they want more of at the trail followed by an online community survey

From this, Trail Tales was designed as a family friendly event inviting residents of Macon to celebrate the beauty of the Ocmulgee Heritage Trail.

Local artists, musicians and neighbors joined the conversation about what they love about the trail and its future as it begins to see redevelopment in the surrounding areas.

The result was inspiring. Residents painted murals together, listened to live local musicians, played yard games, shared stories, colored the weeds, shared s'mores and gave insights as to what they wish to see on the trail in the future.

The temporary space activation kickstarted a dialogue that will continue for years to come, hopefully drawing inspiration from memories shared that night. Participants took home beautifully designed Ocmulgee Heritage Trail postcards.  Pick one up at NewTown Macon before they are gone.

We were happy to have the Bibb County Mentor’s Project and Mercer University’s Office of Community Engagement involved who provided over 10 volunteers to help with set-up and temporary artwork for the event.

Also, we were able to give 8 youth from the Mentor's Project a small honorarium to demonstrate the importance of being compensated for their art work and skills to help the event come to life. 

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Mentors and youth from the Mentor's Project
I’m thrilled so many neighbors came out and shared their thoughts about how the trail can thrive in the future. I hope the creative ideas documented during Trail Tales can inspire future meaningful improvements to our favorite trail!
— Rachel Hollar, Bike Walk Macon

 

WATCH THE EVENT VIDEO

It was inspiring to see people represented from over 9 zip codes in our city and even people who have never visited the trail at the event. It made me realize how many more people the trail could attract with the right programming and services.”
— David Moore, NewTown Macon

CHECK OUT THE EVENT PHOTOS 

Photos by Cameron Shaw

READ WHAT PEOPLE SAID

  • What emotions do you feel on the Ocmulgee Heritage Trail?

           Calm, Zen-ish, Quiet, Unity, Loud due to I-16 traffic, Spiritual, Peaceful, Happy,             Hopeful, Connected, Special 

  • What amenities would you like to see on the Ocmulgee Heritage Trail?

  1. Improved wayfinding signage
  2. Swinging benches
  3. Less noise (Noise barriers)
  4. More flowers and trees
  5. Improve landscaping efforts
  6. More public art
  7. Add picnic areas
  8. More benches
  9. More trashcans
  10. Improved lighting
  11. Better connections to downtown Macon and surrounding neighborhoods
  12. Programming (Music, events, etc.)
  13. Dirt path
  14. Story walk highlighting Native American history in Macon
  15. Cool and artistic litter prevention signage
  16. Bibb County Sheriff Bike Squad

    *The data collected from the event will be shared with the Trail Board and appropriate city officials.

Want to add your voice to the list?

 

To get involved in creative interventions in
Macon, contact hello@creativeinterventionists.com.

Local Stories and Food Celebrate a Community

200 Plates and Showcase at Summit Lake in Akron, Ohio

With 75 community leaders from around the country coming to Akron, Ohio for the Reimagining Civic Commons Studio to share knowledge and study Akron’s efforts, we knew they would be hungry.

We created a truly unique experience to host these community leaders: a 200-person community meal on a giant table with 125 neighborhood residents invited to join.

The result was an evening of celebrating the community and showing what is possible when residents and leaders come together to ask questions and question answers.

 

“The 200 Plates experience...was an exceptional event that touched everyone, both personally and professionally. Summit Lake is such a special place and community, you showed it off with such a thoughtful gathering that exemplified socioeconomic mixing in practice. It was awe inspiring.”    - Bridget A. Marquis, Reimagining The Civic Commons National Learning Network

 

“It didn’t feel like work, it felt more like a family reunion. It was a fun and delicious dinner!”    - Jay Travis, student photographer

 

Summit Lake has faced disinvestment and negative stereotypes for years, and we have been working with residents to create positive changes in their community from the inside and also displaying their stories to the outside. With the latter in mind, we partnered with local photographer Shane Wynn to capture powerful and playful portraits of neighborhood residents with quotes on why they love Summit Lake.

These images were installed in larger-than-life format along the Towpath Trail, which runs throughout all of Akron. Many folks use this trail to bike or run, but never engage with the neighborhood. These portraits now provide an insight into the humanity several feet from the trail, and create space for exploration and compassion.

 

We are continuously working to activate the vacant Pump House building. Most recently, we reinvigorated the exterior by partnering with the Leaven Lenses Project, a youth photography apprenticeship, to print banner sized images of the student photos and adhere them to the plywood covering the windows of the building. The City of Akron assisted in the project.

Students were thrilled to see their photos on the building and at such large scale. In addition, the photos were printed up in a book “Beauty In My Neighborhood” alongside the resident portraits taken by Shane Wynn. Faces swelled with pride as residents saw their faces in print. Younger kids started signing each other’s books like a yearbook, commemorating a special slice of neighborhood captured in book form.

 

 

“The book I received at the Pump House event is a wonderful expression of neighborhood pride and youthful enthusiasm.  I grew up in public housing and understand the shame that poverty can cause when coupled with an alcoholic parent.  These kids are expressing joy and optimism in their community that I only hoped to achieve by escaping.  Theirs is a healthier response.”   - Thomas R. Fuller, Executive Director, Alpha Phi Alpha Homes, Inc.

 

“The booklet is amazing!!  The photos on the Towpath Trail are phenomenal!!  The photos on the Pump House are incredible!!”  - Eric L. Nelson, Executive Director, Students With A Goal

 

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We continue to ask residents what they want to see in the Pump House. Voting boards were put up and our Summit Lake Build Corps youth facilitated the voting process, inviting people to share what they want to see in the building. We have heard from residents that they want a place for art, culture, and history in the community that gives Summit Lake a lasting vibrancy, employment opportunities, and intergenerational gatherings. An 8-year old adorably relayed that he wants to film scary movies in the building. A lifelong resident of the neighborhood said he wants to see a place for youth like he had as a young man; a place to hang out and stay out of trouble.   

 

“The turnout for these two events were filled with magnificent joy and excitement. I have immense gratitude for the residents of Summit Lake for allowing us to work with them to imagine, create, and dream.”   -Hunter Franks, Artistic Director, League of Creative Interventionists   

For more information about the Pump House Center for Art & Culture, please visit summitlakepumphouse.com.  For more information on the League of Creative Interventionists, please subscribe to our newsletter

A special thank you to:

Residents of Summit Lake

Stephanie "Leo" Leonardi, League of Creative Interventionists

Bridget Marquis, Reimagining Civic Commons

Dan Rice, Ohio & Erie Canalway Coalition

Kyle Kutuchief, Knight Foundation

Eric Nelson, Executive Director, Students With A Goal

Lisa Nunn, Let's Grow Akron

How to Start a Revolution

We started the conversation, now it's your turn.

Step by Step.  

Here at the League of Creative Interventionists, we refuse to accept the world as it is and are constantly investigating what could be.

We are also curious about what others see as new ways of being in our world.

The How to Start A Revolution installation was debuted at the Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival in San Francisco, California in August of 2017.

This interactive platform allows participants to share their ideas of what revolution looks and feels like. Made from a large wooden booth with a flashing LED sign atop it that prompts passersby to both seek and contribute answers. Shrouded in a layer of mystery and privacy, the entrance to the booth is covered by a curtain.

As more and more people answer the prompt the curtain is taken back and the installation becomes an oracle of ideas for ways to create meaningful change.

We installed the piece at Outside Lands because we wanted to provide a space for reflection and social change amidst the celebratory and alive spirit of the festival.

The revolution must certainly have joy present and placing this installation in a music festival provides a space to capture that joy and channel it into a larger shared inquiry. The ideas submitted reflected both the playful and painful, the easily attainable and the seemingly impossible, and the political and the personal.

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Materials: two sheets of plywood, 6 metal corner braces, 2x4 lumber, 1x2 lumber, LEDs, plexiglass, acrylic paint, paper, and pens. Build time: approx. 6 hours. 

Ready for the revolution? Join us in starting your own conversation about what we need more of in our communities. Click the button above or sign up for our newseltter below. 

16 Fellows from 4 Cities Convene in Akron

In the 1st weekend in June, we gathered with 16 members from 4 chapters of the League of Creative Interventionists (LCI) in Akron, Ohio with residents and youth from the community. The LCI creates unique public art installations that inspire communities to reimagine the social and physical landscapes of their cities. The brainstorm was focused on the neighborhood of Summit Lake, to activate underused spaces and transform them into platforms for connection and creativity.

Together, the LCI and members of the Knight Foundation, the Kresge Foundation, the Reimagining the Civic Commons, the Ohio & Erie Canalway Coalition, the Better Block Foundation, and the Downtown Akron Partnership strategized and built a community porch out of a vacant lot.

The 16 leaders of LCI learned about facilitating and listening to turn ideas into action. It started with brainstorming with the local community, then voting on the best course, and executing the next day. The community said, we don’t want something temporary in our neighborhood. What was built is solid and permanent, because this community is worth staying for and the growth will be long lasting.

Speakers include:

  • Courtney Bengston, Wichita Community Foundation
  • Better Block Foundation
  • Kate Catherall, CHORUS
  • Carol Coletta, Senior Fellow, Kresge Foundation
  • Kyle Kutuchief, Knight Foundation
  • Bridget Marquis, Reimagining the Civic Commons
  • Dan Rice, Ohio & Erie Canalway Coalition

“The energy and passion that these young creative leaders have displayed to bring meaningful change to their cities is inspiring and we can’t wait to see how their work evolves after the convening.”  said Hunter Franks, Founder of the League of Creative Interventionists.

Time was spent thinking strategically empowers long term change. Equally important is getting our hands a little dirty, covered with colorful paint. Deeper listening and conversations in the Akron and LCI community were activated during the convention.