Anpetu Was’te Cultural Arts MarketMinneapolis, MN
In January 2013 the Native American Community Development Institute (NACDI) attended the Creative Placemaking Summit in Miami, hosted by ArtPlace. NACDI co-facilitated a session with Deborah Cullinan from Intersection for the Arts in San Francisco, CA entitled “Thriving in Place: Identifying Opportunities for the Community.” ArtPlace spoke with Andy Hestness from NACDI about the topic.
ArtPlace: For those of us who weren’t able to attend your session at the Creative Placemaking Summit, what were some of the highlights from your presentation?
Hestness: Our session was about the opportunities for community engagement in the process of creative placemaking. At NACDI we feel that engagement is a key component to developing a successful project. By working directly with the community to define the project, you can create something that the community has a sense of ownership over, and fits within a local context. Our initiative, the Anpetu Was’te Cultural Arts Marketplace has been developed with the community over the course of many years. Through engagement, the local American Indian Community developed the concept of an American Indian Cultural Corridor. Further engagement identified a need for a catalytic gateway project to the corridor that connects to the regional Light Rail Transit system and the Franklin station on the Blue Line. Our project continues that spirit of engagement by having community design charettes with a broad cross-section of the location community to define the design and function of the marketplace.
ArtPlace: How do you connect to community members?
Hestness: We have embedded community organizing principles in all of our work. We have an organizer on staff that focuses on building connections in the community, but all of our staff actively participates in network-building. Even with the connections we have developed, there are still many people that are not as well connected to our networks. We have worked to build connections to other networks and organizations that are stakeholders in our projects and that have their own constituencies. Our core organizing work has been in in the urban American Indian community. This project has led us to build stronger connections with the nearby neighborhood associations and the nearby business associations. One unexpected group of allies has been the local bike-advocacy organization. They have a large network, and are very interested in how our streets function. They have been very enthusiastic and supportive of the project. We continue to find new partners and advocates for the project.
ArtPlace: What is the value of building connections in the work of your project?
Hestness: When we talk about placemaking we are actually not talking about the location as much as we are talking about the people. Anywhere is a location, but for it to become a place it needs the activity of people. As we build a marketplace in our community, we want to create a place where people will gather, sell and purchase art, and see performances. All of these activities are about the people. If we don’t design and implement the project with the people from our community, they won’t show up to the location that has been created. For our project to be successful every stage must be done hand-in-hand with local people.