2016 Highlights – Crossing the Street Creative Placemaking Initiative

A few years ago, with a $3.5 million grant from the Kresge Foundation, LISC launched its National Creative Placemaking Program. Creative placemaking is the intentional support of arts and culture-related organizations and activities that bring residents together to make social, physical, and economic changes in their neighborhoods. If done correctly, creative placemaking has the potential to not only infuse money into a community, but also to fuse together relationships, build communities, spark a renewed interest in the arts, and most importantly – elevate voices typically excluded from planning and development conversations.

Creative placemaking has the power to boost the health of neighborhoods by investing in the physical and social assets of a community. These investments are particularly important for communities with a history of neglect, blight, disinvestment, and disengagement. This is true for our most recent creative placemaking initiative, which took place in the Ivy City neighborhood.

“Ivy City Is…” was a collaborative, resident, and artist-led creative placemaking project that culminated in the creation of a three-dimensional, 5 foot by 20 foot screen printed plywood installation, spelling out “IVY CITY.” This project celebrated the neighborhood’s rich heritage and fostered a dialogue about Ivy City’s identity as it undergoes rapid changes, including a renewed interest in development. Each letter in the “IVY CITY” installation was crafted using a collage of historic photos, maps, and portraits of residents who customized individual yard signs declaring what Ivy City means to them. Check out this short video about the project here.

The Sanctuaries, a diverse community of local artists, collaborated with area youth from Empower DC to host a series of free screen printing workshops at Open Studio DC, a neighborhood screen printing studio and arts incubator.  Residents learned how to screen print and helped to create the seven large letters that spelled out “IVY CITY.” These individual letters were on display in key locations throughout the neighborhood, including Bethesda Baptist Church, Louis’ Restaurant, the Hecht Warehouse, and Trinity Baptist Church.

Over 200 Ivy City residents, creatives, and community stakeholders celebrated this project’s completion at an event with an on-site screen printer, free t-shirts, food and performances by local artists at Lewis W. Crowe Park. This “place-keeping” installation serves as a landmark for the historic neighborhood and invites residents of all backgrounds to celebrate Ivy City and collectively envision its future. Read more about The Real Ivy City here.