UphamsCornerIdeasFairmount - February

The Boston Foundation, Greater Boston’s community foundation, has been working with a cross-sectoral group of nonprofit organizations and government agencies to drive the work of the Fairmount Cultural Corridor Pilot in the Upham’s Corner neighborhood of Boston. F. Javier Torres, Senior Program Officer, manages the Foundation’s arts and culture investments and heads the group, which is building a sustainable “cultural economy” for the neighborhood, which sits along the 9-mile Fairmount/Indigo Line, a long-neglected rail line that passes through some of Boston’s most economically-challenged neighborhoods.

Recently, Javier traveled to Miami to take part in the Creative Placemaking Summit. He shares some of his reflections here.

Where does this movement go next? 

The Summit in Miami made it clear to me that we are all part of a movement. While individually we didn’t start it, and many of us won’t be around to see its full fruits in the decades to come, the power and strength behind our collective efforts across the country is palpable. The movement is propelled by tireless efforts to change both internal and external narratives about the places we care about, and that define us. All too often, our public narratives have been developed by individuals and not by communities. ArtPlace America has created a forum for community, in partnership with cultural practitioners, creative entrepreneurs and arts enthusiasts, to develop and broadcast their personal narratives, which together allow us to see our cities and towns, neighborhoods, and cultural assets in new and more powerful ways. This collaborative spirit is at the core of our work and continues to move us forward.

What new opportunities for your initiative did you identify from conversations with other creative placemakers?

“Fake it until you make it,” seemed to be a dominant narrative at the Summit. What was abundantly clear is that while many of us feel like we are faking it at this point in our processes, instinctually we know our practices and processes do and will continue to increase vibrancy. But just delivering the sense that something has changed isn’t enough in the long run. In their report Real Results, the National Center for Responsive Philanthropy recently reminded us that, as a movement, we need to continue to struggle to find the balance between national indicators that are meant to justify our work and the need to “…invest in various forms of advocacy, organizing and civic engagement to effect change.”  These investments will help us line up the quantitative with the qualitative and create further cohesion in our communities. If we don’t successfully do so, “…we are unlikely to achieve our goals, regardless of mission or program focus.”

 

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