The Public Art Salon: Bees!

Color the honey bee and support the bill!

Join us for The Public Art Salon on Thursday 27 and support Bee Positive Legislation! We’ll have postcards available to color, personalize, and mail in support of MA State bills that limit neonicotinoids!

We will be joined by Beverly Bees for a Hive Demonstration at (around) 4:30 to learn about bees, and bee-positive legislation and actions!

We will also be:

  • Building the Community Table
  • Making Mosaics
  • Painting
  • Face Art
  • Designing the Reading Nook
  • Making Friends!

Learn more about the effects of neonicotinoids and the proposed bills below:

If you can’t join us this Thursday – contact your rep to support House Bill H.2113 / Senate Bill SD.2236 and find out more: https://malegislature.gov/Bills/190/H2113

Eat&Imagine at 289 Derby!

all photos by Creative Salem

For our fourth Community Design Event, Eat & Imagine at 289 Derby, our goal was simple: involve everyone in choosing between two design schemes with Placemaking Placemats before enjoying some spontaneous eats on site.

Option A and Option B show these community driven designs by CBA Landscape Architects

The varied activities people have envisioned for the space, from native permaculture gardens to winter ice-skating, would be possible in either configuration designed by CBA Landscape Architects. The simple distinction between the two plans is that one scheme is straight, and the other curvy. We thought we’d have some debate and close calls about which way to go, so we created “Consensus” placemats at each table. They were unnecessary! At a ratio of 8 to 10, the “curvy” plan was the clear favorite!

Compilation of votes, notes, and locations from community input by SalemPublicSpaceProject

There were many reasons for this. The primary factor was that it would be a unique form in Salem and people were attracted to the soft edges. The undulating paved space shows two discrete areas for flexible activities – one in the center of the space surrounded by greenery, and the other closer to the water with amphitheater-like integrated seating and a stage area that can double as a labyrinth for walking meditation during the summer, and even and ice-skating rink in the winter.

The green space is similarly well suited to facilitate the multiple types of green space desired by participants: botanical gardens with plants for pollinators and native species in some areas, and lawn space with shade and seating in other zones.

Together, these discrete elements facilitate layered uses to incorporate a surprising amount of the community suggestions we’ve gathered over the past five weeks of engagement.

A big thank you to Bambolina for the delicious menu!

Through the “Placemaking Placemats” we all participated in a design charrette. We collected 88 in total! Check out some of the votes on favorite Amenities and Activities – as well corresponding locations!

A big thank you to Salem GreenSpace and the YMCA for talking urban agriculture, permaculture, and community – and giving out tomato seedlings!!

Design Trivia! The name for a gathering of people under pressure to design together, usually in an academic setting, is called a “Design Charette.” Charette is the French word for cart. Traditionally, fervent design students were said to still be finishing their drawings on the cart (charrette) as it was rolled down the hall to be reviewed.

Now that we have a direction for both form and program, we still have a lot of work to do! Who will be those critical community partners to steward this space in a way that keeps it safe, clean, and inclusive to all?

Creative Salem has compiled a wonderful narrative of the past 4 weeks – take a look and come see the schematic design unveiling with us June 21 at 6pm!

Imagine 289 Derby from Creative Salem on Vimeo.

Meet&Share at 289 Derby

all photos by John Andrews, Creative Salem

This is part 2 of 5 posts documenting the Community Engagement Process for a new public space at 289 Derby. The City of Salem, Salem Public Space Project and Creative Salem welcome the community to participate in an exciting and innovative approach to placemaking. After a public process, CBA Landscape Architects of Cambridge became the primary designers with Salem Public Space Project and Creative Salem working as local leaders tasked with managing the community engagement / schematic design for the parcel.

On May 31, dozens of people representing 22 local organizations gathered at 289 Derby for a deeper discussion for what this new waterfront public space should be. We sat and stood around a very large table and discussed the priorities of each person through the lens of their organization, or group they felt they represented, such as neighborhood associations, young families, or the nearby Derby Lofts.

This was our second Community Design Meeting, and like with the first, we mainly listened. A lot was said! The collective priorities and values were pretty clear, and align well with what we heard in week 1:

  1. Accessible to all people, abilities, ages, ethnicities
  2. Multi-use / multi-programming / community gathering for all seasons
  3. Green Space
  4. Connections to water and Peabody St Park / The Point
  5. Safe
  6. Maintainable

After Dance&Design at 289 Derby, the favorite idea was a “botanical garden with open space for education, music, and dance.” Ultimately, this statement, which received a majority votes in our Week 1 online and on-site surveys, speaks primarily to the desire for an engaging green space integrated with space for programmed, communal gathering.

The need for this 1 acre spot of land to serve many needs, and still function as a beautiful space with a clear identity continued during our second Community Design Event: Meet&Share.

A lot of the comments and desires were ultimately for spaces and elements that have multiple uses and appeal to multiple people of all ages, ethnicities, and abilities.

For instance, some participants did not want another playground. However, many supported integrating an engaging sculpture that could be climbed by kids as well as start conversations with adults as a desirable design solution to multiple competing interests.

Point Neighborhood Association: a place for community meetings and bridging across the water!

Connect

Many expressed desires to connect – by continuing the Harborwalk around the South River, by connecting across the river to Peabody Street Park, and The Point neighborhood, by opening up access to the water, and by designing elements to facilitate social interactions.

Salem Historical Society: make it beautiful with a covered eating area and a micro – forest!

Derby Lofts: Green Space + Bridge over the Water

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gather in the Green

We became more specific about what sort of green space and what types of gatherings could happen at 289 Derby.

Participants expressed a desire for resilient and sustainable vegetation that could even involve permaculture including passive food producing plants. We discussed maintenance and somehow getting local support to steward the space. Perhaps this could double with a vertical garden for pollinators, or a green buffer to mitigate the gasoline smell on the west side of the lot, or to buffer against the noise from Derby Street on the north. In fact, the green buffer could perhaps help dampen the noise on site too since people want a space for quiet contemplation.

Many were drawn to the image of a labyrinth that integrates paving with greenery. In fact, this image represents the desire of many to integrate nature with community gathering: “Plants mixed in with sculptural elements” and “Greenspace interspersed with gathering space.” The circular flat space of a labyrinth could help facilitate different activities: a place for quiet walking meditation, a focal point for an amphitheater for theatre or music, a space to lead a yoga class, and a small ice-skating rink in the winter.

Gathering in a beautiful space with green on one side and the water on the other is how many participants want to exercise, especially important for people of all ages.

Derby Lofts: Make it Green! Well lit, safe and pretty and quiet! – an Urbane Oasis!

Young families: gather + eat, gather +watch, perform or teach, traverse!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gather on the Blue

Most participants expressed a desire to connect to the water, through an actual kayak and paddleboard launch, or by having a beautiful fence from which to lean and peer out.

 

SAFE (salem alliance for the environment): green space, botanical garden, access to water, performance space

Bow Seat Ocean Awareness Programs: eco-friendly, low-impact on environment – vertical gardens! mural on National Grid building!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Place for Games, Performance, and Learning

Most participants also want a space for backyard type games, outdoor spaces for learning and gathering, and performances that aren’t too loud. The noise factor was one area of disagreement. Many expressed a desire for seeing music and performances with the water as backdrop, while others are concerned with the noise.

 

Integrate nature with seating, art, and events for all!

A Place for Contemplation, Art, and Conversation

Many participants expressed a desire for an urban oasis of green where they can rejuvenate since Derby Street lacks green up to the Maritime Center. People would like to contemplate nature, perhaps understand native plants or how a rain garden works. Many suggested using art as a way to start conversations. One participant thought having permanent questions could stimulate discussions – indeed the simple chalkboard wall on site has done just that for a couple weeks!

Some participants reached across the river and suggested that art can improve the look of the National Grid station by weaving through the fence, or painting a mural, or using artful light.

 

Salem Main Streets: spaces that endure through the seasons

Amenities

Thoughtful and creative lighting was a big item! As was having a water-bottle filling station and other amenities such as an on-site calendar of events and a solar-powered phone charging station.

Overall, the desire for some kind of green integrated with many types of gathering spaces and activities predominates.

For our 3rd event – Play&Plan we will show three design options derived from what has been learned so far from our first two meetings, our chalkboard wall, and online surveys – Join us at 289 Derby from 5-8pm on June 7 for Yoga, play with B&S Fitness and Project Adventure, music play with Barbara Maitland! All are welcome!

 

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!!

 

HulaArt at the Salem Arts Festival

 

HulaArt Install FB imageHulaArt is a collection of individual, unique art expressions aggregated together to create a unified installation greater than the sum of its parts, yet simultaneously modified by those discrete contributions. This collaborative art installation helped to increase the participation in art making at this year’s Salem Arts Festival (SAF). During the last four months, over 120 students, artists, and locals created unique art pieces that have been integrated into the HulaArt Canopy for this weekend’s festivities.

HulaArt plan three parts multicolorThe project design began in earnest in January after the SAF committee approved a rendering of what a hula hoop canopy over Artists’ Row might look like. The design needed to evolve at two different scales: at the macro level, over four hundred hula hoops had to span the irregular buildings of Artist Row.

HulaArt How To

At the micro level, we worked to promote the re-use of recycled materials to create diverse art expressions. Through early March workshops at the Phoenix School, kids freely interpreted and greatly improved the possibilities for how HulaArt could work. together we evolved two distinct approaches: “Objects on a String” and “Fabric Stretch.”

Workshop Photos

The public launch of the project at the Peabody Essex Museum’s Artopia night began a series of HulaArt workshops throughout Salem during the spring, in addition to groups and individuals that took on HulaArt unaided.

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HULA ART public art installation for Salem Arts Festival on Artists Row – Salem MA from Social Palates on Vimeo.

After a sunny, ten hour installation, over four hundred hula hoops, a fifth of which were transformed into HulaArt, form a colorful canopy above Salem’s Artist Row. The installation was performance art when we watched people negotiate the pedestrian street paved with the hoops, acrobatic circus when two cherry pickers, several ladders, and people on the ground too lifted each of the five sections of the canopy into place, and a chance to speak to numerous people about what it was: public art, collaboration, and the upcoming Salem Arts Festival this weekend.HulaArt LOGO