Our Certificate Holders in Action
Follow the success of our NJIT Certificate in Creative Placemaking graduates!
We are happy to share the latest updates regarding their exciting new roles and related groundbreaking work!
Registration for the Spring, 2024 is currently open. For more information, click here!
“The Meanwhile Block” Trademarked
From Colorado Springs, CPC Graduate Lauren Ripko (Spring 2022) writes: I wanted to send an update on my class “practicum” that has taught me more than I ever thought possible.
This summer I've learned about pavement grades and lighting lumens, utilities and bollards, LED streetlights vs market lights, storm water....the list is long as I became a General Contractor by proxy for the Meanwhile Block. The project required months of infrastructure updates to bring it to a place that is safe and welcoming before beginning to infuse the space with vibrant art and installations. Fences came down, parking lots were cleared, lights have been installed. I've also created a brand, a website, and instagram account and have 13 events on the Block in October. It's really real, more than a year later.
After quite a few conversations with the CEO, the Meanwhile Block concept and brand will become a tool for the company to use in pre-development to bring culture to a vacant space to create commerce to follow. My hope is for it to someday launch outside of Colorado and for it to be a concept that I'm able to travel and implement in other markets.
A large stage is on the way for concerts next summer, infrastructure is being designed for a food truck lot that will host local trucks to build their businesses and following and a farmers market has been using the space weekly since June for downtown residents. We expanded the market to allow for SNAP and WIC purchases with grants and that has been incredibly fulfilling. Our local utilities company donated 10 telephone poles that will be installed to hang market lights and shade clothes from for future events and the City repaved the alley and installed bollards to create a completely pedestrian safe block. We hosted the first ever Colorado Springs Fashion Week in one of the vacant buildings which was an adventure with the City Planning and Fire Departments. Next January one of the large buildings will be host to a homeless support event with gloves and blankets, the traveling TIDE laundry truck, In & Out Burger Food Truck and several organizations from the area promoting and providing wrap around services to the houseless population that is so concentrated around this location.
Lots more to come, but I wanted to send a BIG thank you. Who knew a covid pivot in my career would be so incredibly fulfilling and would stretch my abilities in the best of ways!
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Last month, our NJIT Certificate in Creative Placemaking graduate, Natalie Zaman assumed the position of Executive Director of the Hunterdon County Cultural Heritage Commission. Hunterdon County cultural resources have been expanding steadily over the past decade in this beautiful rural NJ county which is steeped in fascinating history. Natalie, who most recently served the Somerset County Arts and Cultural Heritage Commission, initially as Local History Program Grant Coordinator and for the past four years as Program Director, brings her immense creative skills in arts and storytelling to Hunterdon County. She is well-poised to lead arts, culture and design integration into the community and economic well-being growth in the fertile soil of Hunterdon County.
New Pilot Program Funding for Newark and Atlantic City
The NJEDA has announced a groundbreaking pilot program for Newark and Atlantic City. Developed by NJEDA Chief of Community Development, Tai Cooper, the program entitled: A.R.T. was conceptualized as Tai’s community-engaged practicum piece of the NJIT Certificate in Creative Placemaking. A.R.T. (Activation, Revitalization, Transformation) provides supportive funding to “drive meaningful community engagement by convening local (real estate) developers and artists with the business community” to activate and transform public spaces. Find pilot program details here. See the announcement from NJ Spotlight News.
Applying her art to Creative Placekeeping
Two pieces of Adebunmi Gbadebo’s sculpture is featured in a current exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The exhibit entitled: “Hear Me Now”, The Black Potters of Old Edgefield, South Carolina is receiving widespread attention and runs at the museum until Feb., 2023. After that time, it will be part of a traveling exhibit to major museums across the US. During Adbunmi’s participation in NJIT’s Certificate in Creative Placemaking course, students were introduced to the concepts of “Creative Placekeeping.” This practice is based on honoring and building upon the cultural history of a community. “Adebunmi’s” work is crafted from black hair and clay from the True Blue Plantation cemetery where her slave ancestors’ remains are buried. Hear Adebunmi’s description of her works here.
Our Certificate Holders Lead successful efforts in grant funding!
During the summer, after having received congressional approval and awarding of ARPA funds, the National Endowment for the Arts sent out a far-reaching RFP (request for proposal) to arts agencies across the 50 states, in the District of Columbia and U.S. territories. The $20 million pool of funds were available for several uses including for sub-granting directly for arts organizations. This was an unusual step as normally, the NEA funds state agencies for sub-granting to local arts agencies. However, for this funding, local agencies could apply directly for regranting to their constituent arts organizations.
This open funding had "no match" requirement (often a major deterrent for local agencies) and as a result, was massively over-subscribed. There were literally thousands of proposals! Only 66 local agencies were awarded funding. Agencies led by NJIT Certificate in Creative Placemaking graduates were among those 66! Michelle Isabelle-Stark is the director of Arlington (VA) Cultural Affairs, and Kaitlin Bundy (Manager), and Natalie Zaman (Program Coordinator) lead the Somerset County (NJ) Cultural and Heritage Commission. Each agency received $150,000 for sub-granting to their area arts and cultural organizations! With great pride, we applaud the exceptional and successful leadership efforts of our students as they continue to bolster their constituent arts organizations through the pandemic!
For information on previous and upcoming NEA grants, click here
On Labor Day weekend, 2021, NJIT Certificate in Creative Placemaking graduate, Meghan O’Toole, realized the community-engaged field practicum that she had begun to develop during our course. Originally, she had intended to create a small demonstration project, but through her inspired efforts and leadership, she developed a 4-day demonstration arts festival. The purpose of her Imagine! Festival was to demonstrate how an underutilized civic plaza skatepark could become an Arts Park. This video highlights just a few of the myriad artistic expressions shared over the four days.
See the press announcement of the event: https://rb.gy/dt8qcs http://https://rb.gy/dt8qcs See the full event schedule: https://rb.gy/rizaxe See more about "The Civic Social" dance development-Mark Schmidt and Remi Harris: https://www.remitharris.com/
Creativity in Rural Community - Forward Franklin
NJIT Certificate in Creative Placemaking graduate, Tamara Contreras shares updates on the field practicum she began as part of the course. Tamara created this video detailing her field practicum planning and efforts conducted during and following NJIT's Certificate in Creative Placemaking course of study. Enjoy learning about "Forward Franklin";
Today, Tamara continues her work as community organizer for “Forward Franklin” where her team is planning a creative placemaking initiative for the Franklin Pond. Shortly after graduation, a new position was created for her as ‘Community Health Worker’ at the Newton Hospital for the Atlantic Health Systems. In Dec. 21, Tamara was recruited by the Center for Prevention and Counseling to become their Wallkill Valley Coalition Coordinator. This new position gives Tamara the opportunity to create programs and provide training for 6-12 graders in 5 regional school systems as well as collaborate across numerous sectors to create and implement solutions addressing substance abuse.
Recent CPC graduate, Kate O'Malley, has been named Interim CEO of the Atlantic City Arts Foundation. ACAF serves the artists, the arts and the community in Atlantic City primarily through public artworks and community-engaged arts. 3 primary programs of ACAF are 48 Blocks/AC, Arteriors, and Chalk About. In addition, ACAF hosts community forums and engages with local galleries. Kate is a young, dynamic and committed arts leader who is sure to effectuate enormous strides in making Atlantic City a place of community pride and civic self-esteem through activations in public art. Read more about Kate and this fine organization here.
From our Spring, 2022 cohort of graduates, Talia L. Young is appointed Interim CEO of Newark's historic Symphony Hall. This cultural icon in the heart of NJ's largest city has been enjoying a revival and restoration as a civic cultural gem. Talia assumes this role at a critical time when the groundwork has been laid by the outgoing CEO, Taneshia Nash Laird. Talia's significant experience in government and public relations, economic equity building and project and policy management puts her on solid footing to lead ongoing expansion and development of Newark Symphony Hall as a central place for economic vitality and community pride. Read the full announcement from ROI-NJ.
Kelsey Jackson wins AIA-New York Common Bond Scholarship
Kelsey Jackson, Spring 2021 course graduate wins AIA-New York Common Bond Scholarship to support her graduate studies at Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. Read the details about this incredible honor.
Unimagined Leadership in Sustainability and Journalism
Shaniqua Garrett’s life has taken a new and exciting turn. During our course, Shaniqua focused on crime in her neighborhood and housing complex in Elizabeth, NJ. She was able to meet with the mayor and the chief of police during her practicum preparation period. Through her creative exercises, she developed a program for youth to explore the negative effects of crime on their health and safety through “spoken word.”
Recently, Shaniqua discovered the mental health and sustainability benefits of “micro forests.” (See her being interviewed by NJ Spotlight News on the subject). The positive environmental impacts of micro-forests are being well-touted in the state and elsewhere as shared in this video. Unbeknownst to Shaniqua and coincidentally, her coursemate, Winsome Wynter, has also been leading efforts for micro-forest development in Orange, NJ!
At the same time as her activity in championing this sustainability practice, Shaniqua has now been given opportunities as a local journalist. Writing for both Stateside Affairs, a government affairs and public relations consultancy, she has also become co-writer for TapInto-Elizabeth!
Kellie Swiger has taken the reins and is providing tremendous, creative leadership developing innovative programming and engagement opportunities for the LAFCU (Lansing (MI) Area Federal Credit Union).
Recently, the organization launched its "Lansing Thrive Space" for activating a cultural, sustainable, creative, inclusive, educational, equitable, and interactive space that is shared by the Lansing community so they can thrive through their health & financial wellness journey. With goals of animating through the arts, financial wellness education, healthy living education, cultural celebration and community voice empowerment, this program is providing direct engagement and opportunities which lead toward creating overall well-being for the residents and business owners of this traditionally underserved neighborhood.
Take a short video tour of the gallery space.