289 Derby St: Let’s Invest in a Lot

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From Carnival to Parking Lot to….? What would YOU do with 289 Derby Street?

Well, the Carnival has been over for weeks, and 289 Derby Street is once more a parking lot. But, it could be a lot more. Should it be private development or public space? Public Space, of course!

The following is from my letter to Salem Councilors in support of the Carnival Lot for public use:

I am writing again in support of acquiring the 289 Derby Street lot for public use. When I first moved to Salem, I conducted informal surveys at the 2011 Farmers Market asking why people moved to Salem, since I seemed to be meeting many newcomers like me. Almost all said they love the walkability of Salem. Although anecdotes are plentiful, hard data is harder to come by to show the great economic benefit over time of good, useful, public spaces. Downtown Salem’s footprint is slowly enlarging with new development towards the Point and 1A; 289 Derby Street lot would be one of the largest such public spaces and serve as a great public amenity in what is quickly becoming the expanded center of our city.

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As new places open to the South River, Carnival Street Lot would be a great amenity, and a welcome relief for future density.

The acquisition of the lot for public use would be a wise long-term investment for Salem; the ultimate cost is worth it for our investment in our public realm that could be a wonderful, democratic gathering space for all people, in view of the Point on one side, and the bustling downtown on the other, next to a currently neglected but changing waterfront. As a local architect and community artist, I am committed to an expanded and inclusive public realm that is useful, innovative, and beautiful – a worthy and worthwhile amenity to our city.

In our seemingly divided and siloed nation, public spaces offering access to public amenities, beauty, festivals, performances, art, community, and a place for conversation are increasingly important. We need more spaces where we can come together with those of different ideologies but an essential shared humanity.

Will you support the acquisition of 289 Derby Street for public use? Write your Councilors!

Read Mayor Driscoll’s OpEd here

Read from some of the Council concerns on the acquisition here

A Rare Public Space Opportunity in Salem

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The Carnival Lot from across the South River – taken October 24, 2016 – in hyperactivity two weeks each year.

The Salem City Council has some important Public Space business on the Agenda for tonight’s meeting (10/25 @ 7pm): 289 Derby Street (aka The Carnival Lot) could become one of the newest and most exciting Public Spaces in town.

The Carnival Lot is named for the two weeks in October that it is used as a carnival – like right now! The otherwise empty parcel  is the most significant Public Space Opportunity for the City of Salem in years. The $1.4 million acquisition of the lot appears affordable as a bond order and an annual payment through the Community Preservation Act (CPA) funding, roughly at 12.5% of the total CPA yearly capacity.

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View from Congress Street bridge shows the possibility to activate both the Harbor Walk and the South River.

As a city, we have the opportunity to create a vital public space in the center of town that connects to so many community desires that I could write a list longer than you’d care to read. Here are 7 main points:

  • The Carnival Lot is a unique space in the city that can be a gathering space at the intersection of downtown, a thriving commercial corridor, the Point neighborhood, part of the Harbor Walk, and waterside access, all within a dense urban context.
  • Unlike any other public space in Salem, the proportion of the space creates an ideal outdoor room. Up the road, Derby Square functions as our historic “living room.” The Carnival Lot is also defined by masonry buildings on two sides, but has the bustling activity of Derby Street at one pedestrian entrance, and the South River on the other to create the feel of a true urban “front porch” with unique uses, such as “Seaside Cinema” perhaps?
  • The Carnival Lot is a crucial anchor space to facilitate the realization of the South River Harbor Walk as a complete loop that connects across neighborhoods and offers a unique connection to a waterway in the middle of our city. Without this space, the walkway will lack a space for gathering that will create a place, rather than only a walk.
  • The lot offers a unique connection to the South River that symbolically (and perhaps literally!) can bridge across to one of our most dynamic and undervalued neighborhood, The Point.
  • The lot as a public space can connect for water activities on the currently underused South River.
  • The lot itself provides unique opportunities for pedestrian connections, much like the most endearing public spaces in the city from the Essex Street mall and the myriad alleys to the Ropes Mansion Garden to new trails (from rails), a unique pedestrian system of getting through the city enables the robust foot traffic that makes for active, safe, and useful spaces.
  • We have the opportunity to truly “Still Make History” by creating one of the most beautiful, exciting, and dynamic river walks in the state.

One of the most exciting aspects of acquiring The Carnival Lot is the potential for a genuine on-site, public process of what to do with it! Salem Public Space Project imagines great public gatherings exploring possibilities, experiments in the space with temporary notions, conversations about everyone’s ideas from stewardship and ecology to food-trucks and theater…. yes, we imagine and advocate an all-inclusive, all out, participatory process! That is our dream and hope for The Carnival Lot: both its process of becoming and the gathering space we create together will constitute a beautiful and forward thinking legacy of urban design and public space in Salem.

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Off Derby Street, the public space can be a “front porch” for the city connecting downtown to the South River.

From Flatbread to Notch, to new businesses across the street and river, the adjacent activity makes The Carnival Lot’s emptiness even more conspicuous. The alternative of an eventual built development (like condos, let’s say) would detract from the value of the location to the surrounding businesses, as well as the public. A novel, vital public space complements and adds real value to the existing and growing density.

Write your Councilor if you support the Public Space Opportunity and / or attend the meeting at City Hall, tomorrow October 25 at 7pm.

Get moving!!

Get moving!!

 

Call for Participants: Salem Photographers

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project description:

Salem Public Space Cards are a project to cast an artful gaze onto our shared public spaces.

The cards will feature a photo of a public space on one side taken from the unique perspective of a local photographer, and a poem inspired by the photo on the other, and packaged with a map of all locations.

They will be launched and for sale at the Salem Arts Festival 2017.

Deadline for photo submission: Nov 6, 2016

To participate, contact us!

Move With Me, a pinwheel installation

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(all photos by John Andrews unless otherwise noted) 

MoveWithMe is a community art installation of multiple sailcloth pinwheels that embodies the connection of cultures across waters and land from the past to now, moving in confluence when the wind is just right.

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Front Street

The project transforms Front Street with 369 pinwheels, many of which are hand colored with personal interpretations of cultural patterns from places along Salem’s famous maritime trade.

When still, the pinwheels look like magnolias. They begin to spin sporadically, sometimes just one on a line, at other times multiple pinwheels spin in unison. They surprise. Only intended as a three day installation, the project will stay up through October. The sun has begun to bleach the hand colored patterns, as the sun bleaches the sails of long journeys across the waters.

04_jaMoveWithMe re-uses sailcloth donated by Doyle Sailmakers. The minimal design of knotting rope, to keep each pinwheel in place as it spins on its grommet, reduced hardware. Material budget: under $300. The small budget inspires us to be resourceful and mindful in our design: do we need to buy up bulk stock from Home Depot when we can re-use waste products from a local business and also build a relationship? Do we need to buy new materials when using waste product makes much more sense for a temporary project?

Design in Conversation: transition from tension cables to ropes with slack

Design in Conversation: transition from tension cables to ropes with slack

 

As an artist and architect, how can I adapt my vision to changing circumstances? Initially, I envisioned perfectly straight lines of pinwheels in geometric contrast with the flutter of the tree canopies; this would have required strong and costly cables. The use of the rope allowed for flexibility, and creates a different relationship with the context: the pinwheels are no longer in contrast, but rather in dialogue with the organic nature of trees.

Process is Product

Process is Product: without the participation and the relationships created, there could be no community project

The pinwheels were collaboratively created at multiple workshops at PEM/PM’s Artopia, The Phoenix School, Salem Academy, Old Town Hall, and weekly workshops held 10 Derby Square.

#MoveWithMe was installed for the 2016 Salem Arts Festival, and led by Claudia Paraschiv, local architect and community artist.

The community art project transforms a familiar space in Salem through an environmentally and financially sustainable project that is in dialogue with the city’s culture and involves as many people as possible. Participate in next year’s project (TBD) starting February 2017! Sign up on our email list to get early info on participating! 

Make YOUR Pinwheel!

Pinwheel Making Workshops every Tuesday in April 6-8pm at 10 Derby Square! Join us! (space is limited)mwm_invitation to participate_Page_1

You are Invited to Participate!
We’re excited to introduce Move With Me, this year’s participatory community art installation for the Salem Arts Festival.

We invite participants to connect to Salem’s continued legacy of sailing by creating pinwheels from sailcloth donated by Doyle Sailmakers, a local institution since 1982! We use the wasted bits and left over pieces to create pinwheels playfully reminiscent of power-generating turbines.

Participants connect to distant cultures by taking time to draw out cultural patterns from across the world, directly onto the sailcloth with permanent markers to withstand the rain.

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Choose a country you’d like to represent, dig up a cultural pattern, textile or motif and draw it on a sailcloth square! (Contact us for pinwheel kits.) The pinwheels lightly touch Front Street and are made of mostly recycled materials.

The multiple pinwheels above Front Street, like a movable quilt of cultural patterns, will embody the communal movement and connection of cultures across waters and land from the past to now, moving in confluence when the wind is just right.

In the months leading to the festival on June 3-5, Claudia and others will lead workshops to color and make these pinwheels. Join her at 10 Derby Square every Tuesday in April from 6-8pm!

Deadline to receive your sailcloth square(s): April 30th
Deadline to contribute your colored square(s): May 31st

CONTACT US!

Move With Me is led by Claudia Paraschiv, local architect, public artist, and founder of Salem Public Space Project. In 2014 she led the participatory project HulaArt over Artists Row. Last year, local fiber artist Kate Babcock led Front Yard Street Art. Leslie Lavesque and the Phoenix School students have been instrumental in the development of these community art projects. A big thank you to Kylie Sullivan of Main Streets for enabling it all and John Andrews of Creative Salem for documenting it all!

Move With Me

Front St View yellow

Through Salem Public Space Project, I led the first community art project at the Salem Arts Festival in 2014, Hula Art, a canopy of hula-hoops over Artists’ Row. The project was a collection of individual art expressions, aggregated together to create a unified installation greater than the sum of its parts. This value of the personal gathered to create a communal work was continued last year with Front Yard Street Art, led by Kate Babcock – fiber artist, and also this year with Move With Me, a pinwheel installation.

We soaked up our locale to guide this year’s project.

courtesy of google images

courtesy of google images

From 1776 to 1812, residents of Salem traded with numerous countries around the world so that they “were also among the handful of people at the time who had direct personal knowledge of the world’s incredibly diverse peoples, art and cultures.” (Dan Monroe, PEM, quoted in the Smithsonian) Wind powered those 18th century sails that connected Salem to the world. That same wind moves through Salem today, 240 years later, in a world more connected than ever.

Currently, a turbine proposal on Winter Island demonstrates how we continue to harness the power of wind to power our way of life. Thinking back on our rich maritime history, and mindful of our shared world as a dialogue between cultures and natural forces, we developed Move With Me.

Doyle Factory

Doyle Sails Factory and Sailcloth to be recycled…. as Pinwheels!

Move With Me invites participants to connect to our continued legacy of sailing by creating pinwheels from sailcloth donated by Doyle Sailmakers, a local institution since 1982! We use the wasted bits and left over pieces to create pinwheels playfully reminiscent of power-generating turbines. Participants connect to distant cultures by taking time to draw out cultural patterns from across the world, directly onto the sailcloth.

The multiple pinwheels above Front Street, like a movable quilt of cultural patterns, will embody the communal movement and connection of cultures across waters and land from the past to now, moving in confluence when the wind is just right.

George, who works at Doyle, even came by my studio later that day to help troubleshoot and figure out the ideal size of the pinwheels!

George Dietz, who works at Doyle, even came by my studio later that day to help troubleshoot and figure out the ideal size of the pinwheels!

I began the process with an encouraging trip to Doyle Sailmakers. Janet Doyle connected with our concept and graciously accepted to be part of our project. We only wanted unusable sailcloth since temporary art can otherwise be so wasteful of our resources.

Move With Me Public Art project photos by Creative Salem_0154

Leslie and Claudia discuss using a template to cut a square from the sailcloth. (photo Creative Salem)

ccp at phoenix

photos Creative Salem

We then began this process in earnerst, as in other years, with the creative students at the Phonenix School! (Thank you, Leslie Lavesque!) Together we worked out pattern sizes and visibility if pinwheels are installed 15 feet above street level, which way to fold the pinwheel arms, and whether to hang them like “propellers” or “ceiling fans” – all this is certainly still in the works!

Move With Me Public Art project photos by Creative Salem_0189

Photo Creative Salem

PHOENIX PATTERNS

We scaled up our efforts when the entire 9th grade class of Salem Academy Charter School joined the effort at Old Town Hall! We discussed how we connect to other cultures by beginning with the familiar maritime trade.

Students choose country and cultural pattern

Students choose country and cultural pattern

In the East India Marine Hall at the Peabody Essex Museum, over 25 countries are represented in the two cabinets of “curiosities” collected over two centuries ago. We used these nations as a jumping off point of choosing different cultures to represent. Interestingly, many of the places represented, due to travel by sail, are island nations, which happen to be the most vulnerable in our changing climate.

PEM East India Marine Hall Cabinets

PEM East India Marine Hall Cabinets with objects from maritime trade places

Salem Maritime Trade Places represented in the PEM Cabinets, and as cultural patterns for Move With Me

Salem Maritime Trade Places represented in the PEM Cabinets, and as cultural patterns for Move With Me

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Art and conversation at the workshop and an example of the Phoenix School pinwheels strung up in Old Town Hall. (photos Creative Salem)

Next time we meet, students will bring patterns from countries that hold personal meaning to them. I am excited to represent the whimsical patterns of Romania, my country of birth.

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Alexandra Peterson (of Konceptual) and Claudia Paraschiv (Salem Public Space Project and Studioful) aid in the cultural-pattern drawing (photos Creative Salem)

 

It was wonderful to speak with students about their choices of cultural patterns, the various types of sailcloth, the need for the pinwheels to withstand potential bad weather, and the joy of making art!

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Two vastly different interpretations of a traditional Chinese flower pattern

You too can join! contact us: salempublicspaceproject{at}gmail.com or come participate in the workshop at Artopia PEM/PM, Thursday March 17! 

A how-to manual and more news on our progress coming soon!

A big thank you to John Andrews for the great photos for Creative Salem!

Snow Boundries

Snow Ways

Snow Ways

How does the snow change what you see? What is visible, now? What is invisible now? How do you decide where to stop shoveling? How do you know who can shovel? What does a shoveling style show?