Old Town AIRHomer, AK
News of Bunnell’s ArtPlace award for Old Town Artist in Residence Initiative is sweeping through the community. We are reinvigorated by this affirmation of our perseverance, this validation of our visions. Already, we are sparking the interest of others who want to be involved in positive change! Although “Creative Placemaking” is a new term here in Homer, its qualities are intrinsic to our identity. Homer is in fact a community comprised of, “Cosmic Agents,” creative, innovative pioneers! The news of ArtPlace support has turned our hopes and dreams into a plan / time line, which is the ultimate strategy!
We have just released our Old Town Artist in Residence Request for Proposal: “Old Town AIR seeks solutions to entrenched problems like speeding traffic and pedestrian accessibility with artist-led amenities, participatory events and installations in Old Town…” In conjunction with this artist RFP, we are also releasing our neighbor RFP, inviting Old Town property owners to envision creative placemaking on their land, through the work of artists and community participants! Connecting artists’ and neighbors’ investments within a bigger plan for Old Town’s vibrancy is an exciting process for us, aligning Bunnell’s long term mission of nurturing innovative contemporary art in all media for diverse audiences within a plan for neighborhood revitalization.
Old Town’s Work in Progress Exhibition-
For one week, Old Town transformed Bunnell Street Arts Center’s exhibition space with a display of maps, drawings and collaborative lists which illustrated growing pains and more importantly, healthy remedies for Old Town’s future. Old Town neighbors have been clear about their immediate focus: traffic calming and better walkability, with or without outside funding. The focus and commitment of the various stakeholders has been such an inspiration to work with! This informative show showcased our neighborhood’s collaborative skills, inviting viewers to absorb the possibilities, and better, participate in new conversations surrounding revitalization! This was a tremendously successful outreach approach. Much like art making, showing your work is just as important as the act in creating it.
Old Town’s City Council Presentation-
Using the recent news of our award, we were able to make an exciting presentation to Homer’s City Council this week. We illustrated “creative placemaking” to City dignitaries and how we want to see more of it in Old Town. We requested $75,300 of City funding to support our efforts, all in the allotted 10 minutes! Whew! We presented twelve specific, collaborative requests which all support necessary Old Town pedestrian infrastructure investment. By engaging in this commitment, the City will be partnering with us in sustainable changes envisioned for Old Town. Our presentation focused opportunities for the city to take part in this unstoppable project- I think we brightened their agenda quite a bit as a matter of fact! The presentation was extremely well received. Two council members signed on as sponsors immediately. All 12 requests of our requested will be introduced as an ordinance on June 24th. The second reading and first public reading of these ordinances will be on July 22nd. Three cheers for city partnerships inspired by creative placemaking!
100 Peonies and A New Bike Rack-
Local green thumb Rita Jo Schultz has generously donated 100 peony bushes to be planted along side Bunnell Street Arts Center! Homer gardeners are excited to explore a new market: peonies, which grow well in our cool summers. On a mission of peony proliferation, with her straw hat and shiny, floral danskos, Major General Rita Jo marched into Bunnell mapped out an irresistible beautification plan. Her “get to it” –ness is thrilling! We are as eager as she is to dig into the rich Alaskan soil! Also, the Homer Cycling Club has contacted me about donating at least one bike rack to Old Town! A flurry of inspiration is sweeping our streets like the brisk bay breezes. By advocating for neighborhood vibrancy through collaboration, we are inspiring cross-pollination here in our little Cosmic Hamlet by the Sea!
My mantra for Old Town is “Go to Good”. Every inch Old Town neighborhood has gained towards walkability and beautification, is a credit to our focus on solutions, not problems. We are engaging community members committing to positive forward action. We are unhindered by those who are naturally challenged by change. We are capitalizing on what we do have, and how best to nurture the best experience for all users of Old Town. We are celebrating those who engage in our vision. We are highlighting the mutual goals and values of all partners.