Community Progress Blog

Problem to Purpose: Three Oakland Projects Fight Community Challenges through Art

Written by on January 15, 2020

Pop-up Library, Traffic-Injury Prevention, and Problem Properties Conversion with Creative Placemaking

There’s an old adage, “money’s the answer, now what’s the question.” Sixty-five percent of neighborhood changemakers not only agree, but say funding is the largest hurdle to leveraging Creative Placemaking to fight vacancy and community challenges in their neighborhood.

Three artist-resident collaborations from Design Dash initiative of Oakland, California showed that while funding is a hurdle, with just $1,000 residents, local governments, and artists can make a serious change.

Check out these three examples, and the changemakers behind them, who helped fight community challenges by leveraging creative placemaking:

1. Hoover Foster Resident Action Committee’s Pop-up Libraries

Local organizers including Alternier Baker Cook and architect June Frank of Blink Lab collaborate to bring to life a great example of how “Creative placemaking, at its heart, is about transforming those what-ifs into reality.”

Through a series of pop-up libraries, art installations, and donation events, the Friends of Hoover Durant Public Library used creative placemaking to champion literacy and meet a community’s need to replace a library that was demolished for highway construction in 1971.

2. Growing Safety in San Pablo with Community-Constructed Crosswalks

The entrance to an Oakland historic music venue turned public housing, the California Hotel, was a common site of pedestrian injuries and even casualties. Residents and leaders from East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation (EBALDC) and San Pablo Area Revitalization Collaborative (SPARC) have collaborated on the Yield 4 Life safety campaign to create crosswalks, sidewalk improvements, and additional safety improvements along San Pablo Avenue, which is home to the California Hotel.

3. Kiss My Black Arts Collective’s Community Food Justice Mural

Volunteer Lina Ghanem worked with local farms, stores, and property owners to connect Oakland residents with local options for fresh food. Through mural painting events that included donating fresh produce and seedlings, the Kiss My Black Arts Collective’s Community Food Justice Mural helped promote healthy options in a neighborhood flagged as a food desert in 2015.

These are three creative placemaking projects are part of Design Dash, an annual creative placemaking program produced by the San Pablo Area Revitalization Collaborative (SPARC) with support from the East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation (EBALDC).

Need Ideas for a Community Creative Placemaking Project?

Download the “Trends in Creative Placemaking on Problem Properties: 2019 National Survey Findings” for data and real case studies of communities, like Oakland, where residents are solving community challenges while fighting vacancy.

For more inspiration and innovation’s in creative placemaking, follow Community Progress on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

For more photos and information on more Design Dash community progress in Oakland, check out this recap from the Open Architecture Collaborative.

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