Saturday, February 27, 2010

Reuse of Urban Spaces

If only Baltimore had better hills during that massive snowstorm. Check this out in Pittsburgh (I know I probably discuss Pittsburgh a bit obsessively), but all of what these guys are doing is in the city. I did see some cross country skiers roughing the baltimore sidewalks though.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Excerpts from:

Some comics from Will Eisner's book New York The Big City. Eisner's work mostly focuses on urban environments, both the positive and negative features, and how people interact with each other. He lived in New York most of his life.

Drift Photos

Here are some polaroid photos from the driving drift Rachael and I conducted a couple of weeks ago. We started and ended in the Central Baltimore District, but otherwise left the drive open, and had the one main factor being snow.

Loft Living in a New LIght

     I think Gary Kachadourian was the most refreshing guest speaker we've had in the class so far.  He wasn't representing any business or organization, and it was apparent that he was very honest without any outside agendas.  I was shocked by how impartially he was able to talk about loft living spaces.  Despite the fact that he is an artist himself, he spoke very matter-of-factly about the instabilities of artist loft housing.  Rather than cursing speculation for creating cycles of housing instability for artists, he just accepted the fact that property owners would eventually want to kick people out and do something more profitable with the property, and accepted that all you can do is be thankful that speculation created the conditions for this temporary housing in the first place.  
     Kachadourian gave a list of reasons that property owners saw artist housing as an option for holding their property until they found a better deal.  He mentioned that although owners make no significant profit, the artists treat the property well, complain very little, build and leave things better than they found it, and can fix problems themselves in addition to the fact that they bring new culture to the area that makes the property more valuable.  Although it appears that creative people are basically exploited because of these positive traits, It's amazing to see that they are recognized by these traits in the first place.  Despite the implications it has on housing cycles, it still gives me a little hope to know that artists are recognized for the good they can offer other than money, and to know that something other than money can factor into an owner's decisions.  I doubt that many other social groups can boast that.
     Before listening to Kachdourian speak, I would have agreed that it was unjust to raise rents or kick artists out when a good business proposition comes along.  I still think it's very unfortunate, but now I at least can see both sides of the story. 

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Problem of Specultors

One common thread through many of the people who have come in to talk to us is that they have all talked about speculators. Also, pretty much all of them spoke negatively about them. It seems that the idea of real estate speculation become an especially hot issue in neighborhoods that are begining to re-develop like Station North. I've thought a lot about the idea of speculation over the past week and I've mostly come up with questions. Here are a few.

Why do people do this? Other than the obvious reason of sitting on the property with hopes of eventually making money. Are there more complex reasons that we are missing?

What is already being done to stop speculators, We've heard about code enforcement and the city taking over properties, but what else is there and are these the most effective things that can be done?

What should be done. How can the people in a neighborhood stop this from happening? How can the city stop it short of taking people's property away (because no one likes eminent domain)

What conditions lead to an area becoming ripe for speculators? How can these things be combated?

These are not questions I have any sort of answer to, I'd love to hear what everyone thinks about this.

So many relationships in cities seem to be symbiotic, but the relationship of the speculator to the city seems to be inherently parasitic. They contribute nothing to the city (except property taxes) and get rich when property values do go up. I'm totally over simplifying the whole situation, but since it is something that so many people have mentioned, perhaps we should look into it as a class?

Secret Baltimore?

Recently, as I've been exploring arts districts and community-arts relations within different cities, I have discovered that its difficult to just look up a city and find out what is actually going on there. Through my research, I have found that the situation in many cities resemble Baltimore and the SNAD plan. To someone who isn't a resident within the area, rejuvenation plans drafted by bureaucrats may seem to be a massive improvement, but those of us who live inside and around the community see things differently. We see the spaces that may be destroyed and we understand the necessity to preserve the "SNAD" that we are familiar with and know today.

I just found several interesting groups on Facebook that discuss and share secrets of Baltimore and other cities. They are called "secret city" groups that discuss the happenings within places like New York and San Francisco to name a few. Since we as a class are beginning to understand the value of the intricacies and secrets of cities, maybe we should use this group as a forum for discussion. When looking at the "Secret Baltimore" page, it was apparent that each person posting had a different idea of what "secrets" were worth sharing. I realized that the MICA community has its own unique vault of "secrets" that are worth exploring. There are many places featured in these "secret city" groups, and all are interesting to look at and think about. Check it out!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

I can make money too

After studying the research of Markusen, I found it to have a refreshingly new take on the artist’s contribution to their local economy. The distinction lies within the breakdown of the “Artistic Dividend” into two categories. The first is referred to as “returns to the region”. It begins with local investments in the creative sector, or a community of artists. A rich cultural center is created through these investments, drawing more artists and firms to the area. This concept has repeatedly appeared in our assigned readings: higher-quality human capital is drawn to the alternative urban lifestyle created by residential artists. However, second factor of the “Artistic Dividend” is unique to the research of Markusen. It is referred to as “current income streams”, or the process by which creative goods and services are exported out the region. Thousands are employed through this process, receiving varied amounts of income. These incomes are then spent on local businesses and the importation of other goods and services, bringing even more capital into the region. By highlighting the impact of “current income streams”, Markusen establishes the role of artists as not only culture-creators, but also contributors to immediate economic turnover.
Though Markusen’s “Artistic Dividend” is distinguished from our previous readings, it holds several important similarities. Currid, in the text “How Art and Culture Happen”, emphasizes the low involvement of the city in cultivating of a cultural district. Local government must adopt a “benign acceptance” of creative development, as any efforts on their part will be only disrupt local artists. Markusen agrees, stating that the artistic dividend is “a product of long term commitments by philanthropists, patrons, and the public sector”. Another similarity found between Currid and Markusen is the concept of opportunity tied up in social networking. Currid places a strong emphasis on the role of “cultural producers, cultural gatekeepers, and owners and managers of entertainment venues” in contributing to the success of a creative sector. Artists are drawn to dense concentrations of these parties, not because they seek the alternative lifestyle therein (which may indeed be true), but because the social connections formed are the key to a successful career. Markusen observes the same, stating that the networking of fellow creative contributors offers “opportunity to improve both their [artist’s] craft and methods for enhancing their exposure and incomes." The agreement of these two reputable social scientists offers a firm support for the role of informal networking and low government involvement in the formation of the creative sector.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Repost From Audacious Ideas.

I found this post at the OSI Baltimore blog by Irene Hoffman (the director of the contemporary museum) about how a vibrant contemporary arts scene will create a vibrant city.

Here's the link, it's worth a read!

Driving Drifting

(a map of the drive drift without and with the map of Baltimore)

Last weekend, Rachael and I went on a driving drift. We both started and ended in the Central Baltimore district, however, we drove aimlessly around otherwise. There were various elements that decided our path, ranging from blocked off streets due to snow and unplowed conditions, bathroom breaks, and points of interest that we found along the way. My car got stuck once, on an unplowed street in upper west Baltimore, and we exited the car in Highlandtown. It will be interesting to compare in the future our path of a driving drift versus a walking or biking drift, due to the tendency to stay on main arteries within the city while driving. We mapped using a phone GPS system that tracked our path, but we did not have to focus on, so we did not have to constantly write down our positions and turns along the way.

It was interesting to compare where the both of us had been before, considering Rachael is from Baltimore, and I am not. We had decided to park and walk around Highlandtown since we had both driven through, but had never gotten out and walked around.

A larger resolution map will be posted on the wiki, along with photos and points of interest.
More drifts will be added in the future. If you have gone on any drifts, you are more than welcome to add to the map, (once posted to the wiki), and repost it!

Quick Question

After reading some of the other responses posted, I have realized I may have come about this all wrong. My posts mainly consist of synopsis' of the reading, instead of my personal reflection on the piece. Is this necessarily "wrong'?

Supply and a Pioneering Demand

The phenomenon of “Loft Living” is a perfect example of potential revealed by necessity. It is quite apparent that an upper-class urban dweller would have never dreamed of inhabiting a loft before 1970. In order to become inhabitable, the average loft required an average of $7000 and 2-6 months for remodeling. Most lofts were located in manufacturing districts devoid of local amenities, such as grocery stores. The beginning stages of loft living contested local zoning restrictions and building codes, making residences “illegal” though of little concern to the state. Despite these inconveniences, lofts held incredible potential within their expansive space, classical architecture, and valuable oak flooring. Artists, who saw lofts as an ideal live-in studio space, first recognized these assets. Such converted residents began to increase in popularity, achieving legal status and involvement of developers. By the early 1980s, artists were driven out by the rising rent prices, subsequently replaced by middle and upper class residents. The affluent had returned to the urban center.
The transition of lofts into their current state can be explained by a hierarchal process – beginning with small industrial manufacturers, then artists, followed by middle-class tenants, real estate developers, and finally the bourgeois upper-class. As deindustrialization made manufacturing firms increasingly obsolete, the buildings that housed them transitioned into cheap residential space for artists. Once the pioneer residents laid the groundwork, lofts became an acceptable form of alternative living for the middle class. Recognizing a profitable demand, developers institutionalized loft living, creating a market for the upper class. This process is far from a natural phenomenon. The popularity of loft living did not arise without the involvement of the state, this ranging from benign acceptance to real estate subsidies. Lending institutions had their hand in the process as well, loaning developers the cost of acquisition and construction costs. As Sharon Zukin states, “To praise the spread of loft living as a result of spontaneous market forces is to accept the real estate developers’ view of the world and to ignore the state’s and banks’ complicity in the construction of this world” (pg.3). Despite this institutional involvement, loft living lends its existence to pioneering artists. Artists who, in need of space, recognized the potential of obsolete manufacturing structures as a solution.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Neo Bohemia: How fetishization of the working class manifests itself in where bohemians choose to live

One aspect of the Llloyd's Neo-Bohemia that particularly interested me was the bohemian festishization of the working class coupled with the fact that they had very little understanding of it.

Lloyd Writes:

" These people were not slummers and they were certainly not philanthropists; they came to revel and discover, not aid and uplift... [they prided] themselves on a hedonistic familiarity with the city and its gaudy and besmudged riches. Compared to these diversions , the everyday struggles of the shop floors were altogether too tedious and, with few exceptions, were ignored." (56)

While Lloyd is writing about the bohemians living in the village in the 20's, this appropriation of all of the glamorous elements of the city's underbelly with ignorance of its struggles is something that is alive and well in bohemian culture today. One example is hip hop, hip hop is often talked about by bohemians with a certain reverence because it is a discussion of all of the over the top, glamorous aspects of poverty. While hip hop sometime gives a nod to struggle and the real aspects of poverty, it by and large ignores it, and even when it does, it is often described with a certain grace and an element of cool. This is the music listened to by many bohemians at their parties and while they may be able to appreciate the production values and seedy lyrics, they generally have little understanding of what it means to sell drugs, lose a friend or get shot at (it's up for debate how many of the artists producing the music itself even have an understanding of those things, but thats another converation entirely)

Another manifestation of this is the idea of living in a loft. Bohemians occupy spaces that were once used as space of production, and they fetishize this as well. One example of this post industrial decor is Urbus Orbis Cafe which Lloyd writes about in his book as well. He descibes the former sweatshot as having tables built out of the exposed brick walls with machine parts like gears and cogs embeded into them. Bohemians have not only taken over the physical spaces of industrialization, they have also co-opted the aesthetics of it. Perhaps this could be tied to trying to hold onto a degree of authenticity or to pay homage to the working men and women before them, but either way, thier fetishization of the working class manifests itself in the environment that they build for themselves. I may not have the strongest case to make for "Industrial Chic" being tied to the way that bohemians admire the working class, but I do think that there is a link to be made.

Wicker Park Brings Out Your Flaws

Like many social ideologies, Bohemia is not without flaw. It holds a number of self-contradictions and paradoxes. In his book “Neo-Bohemia”, Richard Lloyd points out one of these flaws, through the context of Chicago’s Wicker Park. Less than twenty years ago, this area was relatively unremarkable. It was the unfortunate victim of deindustrialization, deterioration, and population decline, unfit for competition with the booming commercial apex that was the “Loop”. However, within the wasteland, a new subculture was beginning to stir, a glimpse of what we now know as “Bohemia”. College-age men and women began taking advantage of the area’s low rents and like-minded community. They sought an alternative lifestyle, deviant from the soulless “corporation” and the bureaucracy it entailed.
Though this philosophy is naturally antithetical to American capitalism, in the long run it actually paved the way for economic consumption. Here lies the first paradox observed by Lloyd: as the Bohemian movement was recognized by the mainstream, the area of Wicker Park became more commercially viable. Such media outlets as MTV, Billboard, and Fortune magazines boasted the “new economy” of the area. Corporate culture saw the opportunity to attach itself to a hip and edgy neighborhood and, under the guise of “indie”, succeeded in doing so. This contradictory turn of events is illustrated on a more personal level through Lloyd’s field notes. In 2003 he found himself attending a party for the local web design firm Buzzbait. Though only a year old, the business had experienced rapid expansion. In fact, it was rumored that Buzzbait had recently received a $5 million offer of purchase. Suddenly these Bohemian entrepreneurs were finding themselves rewarded by the very corporation they opposed. During their celebration, Lloyd found himself talking to a young musician about the theory of gentrification. Her disdain for the subject was obvious. Meanwhile she, a perfect exemplar of bohemia, was fueling the very trend she despised. The paradox is clear. Once the lifestyle deviant becomes commercially viable, its politics sadly contradict. Bohemia, when exposed to it’s enemy, becomes flawed.

Skeptical Plan for Station North

     During the presentation on the Station North plan last class, Ben Stone from the Baltimore development corporation mentioned that it was important to develop the Station North district because it is the first part of the city that visitors see when they get off the train.  Considering, it seems like developers would want to focus on things that make Baltimore unique.  Instead, the plans seemed heavily based on following models in other cities.  He specifically referenced the fact that Union Station in D.C. was developed to be like a mall as much as a train station and talked about Chinatown in New York and Philly.   In response to those references, there were plans for building a large glass structure on the corner of Charles St. and North Ave., and creating an "Asia Town" market area.  Personally, I think these plans would turn Station North into a giant mall just like the Inner Harbor, and serve as an example of the negative side of gentrification.  Building big, shiny structures would only serve to make Baltimore look more like a cold, modern city which seems like the wrong direction to go when trying to represent a place known as "Charm City."  I think it goes without mentioning that "Asia Town" is very politically incorrect in both name and concept.  If the concept for "Asia Town were realized, it would be exploiting the Korean population and nearly denying their presence at the same time.  
     It's frustrating to me that the Station North plan was presented as a way to show of Baltimore's culture to people from other cities, when it seems to focus mainly on making the quickest, easiest money by appealing to the most mainstream tastes.

Response to Loft Living

Lofts were always something I assumed was organic: artists simply filling the space that manufacturing used to occupy when cities deindustrialized. In reality, this view of the whole process is too perfect. Zukin's argument was interesting because she exposed the roles of the city, landlords and banks that led to the development of lofts for residential use. Parts of her argument came off as a little paranoid, but overall it was really strong.

This inspired me to do a little bit of research on the history of a loft in Central Baltimore: The Copycat Building. The building followed Zukin's explanation almost exactly. The building was built in the late 19th Century as a cork factory (the bottle cap was invented there) it functioned for years until it was closed in the late 1970's. It was then bought by Charlie Lankford (it's current owner) in 1983 and used as light manufacturing space, soon after, Lankford decided to rent one floor of the building as artist studios. People began to live in their studios, so Lankford (realizing that residential rents can be much higher than rents for manufacturing space) responded by converting the space to residential. He has run into problems with the city, which is where this case differs from Zukin's argument, but not that much. While the Copycat Building is technically not legal to live in, the city continually seems to look the other way. ( )

Something struck me when Garland Thomas came to talk to our class. I asked him what the CBP thinks of the building and he responded by saying that they like it, if they didn't they would tell the city about all of the code violations it has as they do with other buildings in the neighborhood. This permissive attitude by the city and residents of the neighborhood is interesting because it raises so many questions Why are the city and people ignoring all of the laws being broken? Will it continue to exist as the neighborhood changes? How long can it last?

It also raises the same ethical question that Zukin raises: Is it fair to push light manufacturing out of neighborhoods and cities only to replace them with residences? I think the case of the Copycat Building is a bit more complicated than the ones that Zukin presents. First, the neighborhood in which the Copycat is located is primarily residential, and with the transformation of the building, Lankford brought more residents into the area. In a neighborhood that is so vacant, aren't more residents a good thing? Yes, this decision did displace manufacturing firms is this fair?

Zukin's article made a lot of sense and explained a lot, but it also asked a lot of questions that I'm not sure I can answer. I'm very interested to hear what you all think about the article as a whole or the Copycat case specifically.
I've been thinking about what people have been writing about in these blogs and I think everyone makes good points about the pros and cons of an arts district. I agree that an artist community or "district" should be created in a more grassroots way and that major development is not always the best thing for a neighborhood. But, I also think that development is inevitable and will happen sooner or later. What's interesting to me about the three plans for Station North is that there's a little bit of everything working together to bring the area back. You have CBP and BDC proposing long term plans for the more commercial side of the project and the Greenmount West organizations working on more of a local level with members of the community focusing on building a stronger neighborhood. And, of course, you have artists contributing their talent and ideas. The question is how long before gentrification kicks in and another generation or two are forced to move from the community that was once meant for them.
This also brings up what concerns me most which is what about the people who have lived in this area their whole lives and witnessed the rise and the fall of the neighborhood. While I appreciate that the city wants to build an arts and entertainment district for me and my fellow artists and give me tax incentives and stuff like that, I can't help but ask why can't they put that kind of money into building up better neighborhoods and schools and businesses for people who have needed it for so long. Not to say that the people living in Greenmount West and Barclay don't need this too because they are struggling too. Again, are they going to be able to afford to live in their neighborhood once these plans kick into gear? The Old Town Mall in East Baltimore was once the heart of Baltimore and a thriving market that served its community. It's also a failed urban renewal project that has been suffering since the late 80s. That place and its residents and business owners have been promised funding and redevelopment for years and are still waiting for something/anything to happen down there. It doesn't get nearly as much attention has Station North. The same thing goes for sections of the west side of downtown. I guess it's pretty complicated and also hard for a broke city like Baltimore to tackle these problems all at once and we should be happy that something positive is happening somewhere and maybe that will be a start to something bigger and better for Baltimore. It will be interesting to see where the city is in 10-15 years down the road.
Just some thoughts......

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

I’m glad to introduce Mullae-dong, “art district” in South Korea. It was originally a huge industrial district has many factories-especially making steel, ironware. In middle of 1990s, many factories moved or closed(due to depression) and there started to be built many apartments. Artists have moved Mullae-dong since 2000, because of rent fee is much lower than any other place in Seoul. Korea is very small, Seoul, the capital of Korea is especially has high land prices. This likes Japan, Tokyo. And in many cases show(for example, Tate modern gallery district in UK), the industrial districts with old factories very match modern-contemporary emotion so many artists (including architects), like create their studio in a factory.

So, the studios increase from 15~30 (in 2003~2006) to 50 after 2 years, there are not only fine arts, includes all kind of visual art likes illustration or design, performing art, fusion Korean classical music etc. With increasing art studios, Mullae-dong is naturally known of an “art district” to many people, finally there were held Mullae International Arts Festival(MIAF) in 2009.

In 2010, “Mullae Art Factory”(transits directly; in English they named Seoul art space_Mullae) opened on Jan 28. It means that Mullae-dong art ditrict, so called “Mullae Arts Creating Village”, is acknowledged by people and government clearly. It does not complete, however, it is ongoing now. The government planed that make it being a famous art district so let many people move to there and develop regional economy.

P.S. Unfortunately, there are few information in English.

District information in Wiki

Seoul art space_Mullae

The closest gathering place for artists near my hometown is the Yellow Barn Studio and Gallery in Glen Echo Park (Bethesda MD). Glen Echo Park began as a Chautaugua retreat which acted as a sort of of arts center. It then became an amusement park until 1968 when it closed down. The park became super run down and was barely used for a number of years. The only active parts of the park were the Puppet Theatre and the Carousel. As different organizations and donations helped to rebuild the park, it became more active. In 1994, the Yellow Barn was founded in cooporation with the National Park Service and the Glen Echo Partnership for Arts and Culture. The Yellow Barn became a place for artists of all levels to take classes and participate in workshops.
Throughout middle and high school I worked in the studio in order to get into classes for free with other young people. This totally made it possible for young people who couldn't afford or have their parents afford classes to take classes and get instruction.
But this area is far to suburban to be considered an arts district and I wondered what places close by were/are considered arts districts. After searching I found one in Hyattsville, Maryland. It's pretty unnatural and kind of odd. It boasts that it is near the metro and Washington D.C.. It also claims that its homes include environmentally friendly and energy efficient amenities as well as a gallery/art space. But would an artist actually live here? Or be attracted to living here?

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Competing Arts Districts

When a city has a naturally developed arts district, the local government usually acts upon it to help build it up and make it thrive. However, what happens when a city has more than one arts district that has naturally occurred? Will the city acknowledge all the arts districts and try to build up various areas, or decide on one? Will the city even acknowledge these various other districts that they are not actively promoting, or will they completely deny the existence of them within the city?

This phenomenon has actually occurred within the city of Pittsburgh. There is the main Cultural District that is located downtown that the city actively promotes through the events of the monthly Pittsburgh Arts Crawl, Festival of the Arts, and numerous theater and gallery events that occur all throughout the year. However, this is not the only arts district. Another self-made thriving area is the Penn Avenue arts district, located approximately 5 miles up the street from the main Cultural District.

The Penn Avenue arts district is run by a non-profit organization called the Penn Avenue Arts Initiative. They promote the opening of new DIY galleries, concert spaces, eating establishments, theater productions, among other events and venues. There is also first Fridays, Unblurred, which is heavily attended regardless of weather conditions. This entails free shows, gallery openings, street theater, etc. However, there is no promotion of this area by the city, and therefore, the attendance by the city is much lower than what it could be, because it is virtually unknown. Many of the buildings have had issues getting funding, and are run down. However, there is cheap living available.

Along with the Penn Avenue arts district, there is another arts initiative happening just outside the city of Pittsburgh, (less than 5 minutes drive). The Braddock Arts Initiative started with the election of a new mayor to the area. He is promoting subsidized living for working artists in many of the abandoned warehouses within the formal steel mill town. There is a large artists population that has worked on house rehabs, urban farming, and public arts projects. The most well known public arts project is the Points of Interest project, which is located all over Braddock. The main problem Braddock faces is the Mon-Fayette expressway that has been proposed numerous times, which would run a highway directly through the town of Braddock to connect Pittsburgh, Pa to Charlestown, WV.

Pittsburgh Cultural District

Penn Avenue Arts Initiative

Braddock Points of Interest Photostream

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


Baltimore is notorious for its "checkerboard"-like layout, in that one block might be banging with revitalized homes in historic areas, while the next is faced with flashing blue lights. With last week's guest speakers, I wondered how this checkerboard-ness was going to be dealt with. The Station North area would essentially create a strong border, specifically on the corner of North and Greenmount.

There already seems to be, in my opinion, a tension on North Avenue. On the south sides exists Charles street where young college kids gather for movies and drinks.. etc, while the north side is almost desolate, even with the installation of The Wind Up space and a few other attractions on the north side of the street. Perhaps tackling neighborhoods is the easiest way to go about revitalizing Baltimore City, but with the continued efforts in bringing up single areas also increases the checkerboard throughout this city.

It's not to say that I am not a believer in the Station North plan, I just worry about the continued tension that will naturally exist between its surrounding communities.

Devils Advocate

I want to preface this post by saying that I'm writing this not necessarily because I feel this way, but because many of these sentiments have been expressed to me by people living in Greenmount West:

Is development in the Station North area really a good idea? This is a question that has been posed to me by a lot of people I live and work with. The guiding idea the people have when they ask this question is "I like my neighborhood the way it is". There is already a vibrant, functioning art community there, the rent is affordable and and the quality of life is by many of these people's standards decent. There seems to me to be a rift between the criteria different populations use to evaluate the quality of a neighborhood.

Take vacant space as an example. There is a house on 23rd and Barclay that regularly hosts concerts in the basement. Not only is it a place for the arts and music communities to gather, but it provides a space for touring bands to stop, play, sleep and make some money. But why can this house in the middle of residential neighborhood host these loud shows that often go until late at night and attract minimal noise complaints? Because the houses on either side of it are vacant. If this was not the case, then this important gathering place could not exist. The space is a an open space that allows for interesting and experimental things to happen without the pressure of making money (to dispel a common misconception, the vast majority of people that host house shows do not use door money to pay their rent).

Yes, it's possible that in the process of development, a multi-use performance space could be created to house these kinds of events, but this brings up the old adage "if it aint broke, don't fix it". There is something to be said for self organization, and this seems to be frequently overlooked by people seeking to develop an area (sometimes even if those people are living in the neighborhood.)

This system may seem parasitic and unproducative, but it would be meiopic to ignore the cultural production and the potential for future capital that can be generated by the experimentation going on within this decidedly anti-capitalist space. Furthermore, Elizabeth Currid, made it clear in her article that these spaces of open socialization are important to an arts economy. Would the institutionalization of these DIY spaces change this? I'm not sure, but I do know that these spaces as they currently exist are an asset to the arts community and should be preserved in the process of development.

Fractured Atlas, Brooklyn groups working on artists/development issues

Fractured Atlas is a Brooklyn based group supporting artists while attempting to recreate their relationship with their gentrifyees (made up word...). They have some posts on their blog and links there as well to other related groups working on artists role in development and their subsequent role/identity in their residential communities.

Here are some of those posts!

Their general website where they run programs to help support artists through health insurance plans, networking and advocacy:

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The City of Paris Renovating Squats and Turning Them Into Residency Programs


A friend sent me this New York Times article about the city of Paris buying the buildings housing artist squats, renovating them and turning them into residency programs. It sounds like a really interesting way of dealing with things. Has anyone heard of any sort of precedent for this?

Heres the link:

"Who's Your City": Summary and Response

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In his chapter “Who Is Your City?,” Richard Florida states that the world is both “flat and spiky”. In a global economy where technological advances have made communication virtually limitless, location seems to lose its significance. However Florida contests that, though financial dealings are without borders, financial centers form in specific geographical locations. Where connectivity is made easy, it is limited to a handful of global “peaks”. These peaks are distinguished by their population density, economic activity, and innovation. As a centrifuge of innovation, peaks attract and nurture the creative class. Where creative innovators, implementers, and financial backers are all located in a concentrated area, constant contact is afforded. This connectivity allows for an efficient flow and execution of ideas not otherwise possible through digital exchange.

The innovative force of a global peak is something I have witnessed firsthand. While attending school in Illinois I lived both in the city of Chicago and it’s surrounding suburbs. Though in the suburbs I received an arts education, I found that creative assets were much more accessible within the urban center. Wicker Park, an arts district located on the West Side of Chicago, was my invaluable resource. While working there I was in constant contact with fellow members of the creative class. Artists, gallery owners, magazine editors and program directors surrounded me in and outside of work. These creative people were integral to the inspiration, critique, and implementation of my ideas. Though technology connects me to the rest of the globe, my exposure to innovative people and resources was alarmingly location-specific. Richard Florida was correct in stating that the world is not as flat as it appears.