Creational Trails

The Greater Milwaukee Committee

Funding Received: 2013
Milwaukee, WI
Funding Period: 1 year and 5 months
October 24, 2013

West Wisconsin Avenue
In the past month, we have been working extensively on building a vision for placemaking in Milwaukee, as well as coordinating with more than 25 organizations involved in the first steps of our project. The public call for two to four ideas to activate the space along Wisconsin Avenue through placemaking has launched; this process is called Tournavation.

Tournavation is a crowdsourced pitch platform to garner community buy in, spark creative ideas and host a culminating community event with ten finalists. Two to four ideas will be selected in a “shark tank” social event to encourage dialogue, debate and a collusion of people that want to better the city of Milwaukee through art placemaking.

Recent Wins
1)     The successful building and launch of the Creational Trails website

2)     The buy-in from a major university and civic task force for the West Wisconsin Avenue Tents project that involves pioneering public space and allocating a possible white-box grant for a startup DIY Bike Café.

3)     The selection and confirmation of five distinguished jurors for the Tournavation process.

How do we define "social?"
The notion of “social” is often overlooked in conversations about urban planning, development, and art. With the rise of social media connecting people online, most millennials are actually using it to organize offline. By focusing on the social component of placemaking events and programming, it opens the door for more collisions and opportunity to build deeper collaboration.

The focus on social: furniture, events, opportunities, transit and art is a large focus for the Wisconsin Avenue Creational Trails initiative. By creating an art program that is highly social, it leads to more conversations about the marketing of art, funding of art and a deeper drive for self-art education. It also takes the pretentiousness out of art and allows a pathway to deeper understanding of its value to the community and to the public.

How can temporary activities have a permanent effect on place?
Temporary activities lead to ownership of an area of town and can create tradition. Once you are able to create an experience, it creates a memory. Once you create a memory, you create a story. In the hands of a social organizer and/or a storyteller, you create a word of mouth message that triggers organic movements and growth.

Activation of space through the arts is an important investment and value of a space. When creating a space fueled by the arts, buy-in happens. A key learning is not to rely on just one medium of art. By recognizing all arts as important to the growth of a space, you can spur performances, culinary food carts, live music and film, which put a stamp on a space as a place that values community. If the community values a space, development follows. Where development goes often, larger development happens. The key is to foster multiple uses of the space, having a flexible vision that nurtures the arts and in turn, develops the community.