Call for Salem Poets and Writers!

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Over a dozen local photographers have chosen and photographed a public space meaningful to them. What will their image inspire you to write about a place that you know or discover in your own way?

Cards will feature a public space photo and a poem/ written reflection inspired by the photo on the other. To be launched and for sale at the Salem Arts Festival, 2017. The Public Space Cards will be packaged with a map of all locations. All proceeds will go towards recovering production cost and then divided equally among participants. (Cost TBD)

Poetry/prose submission Deadline: March 11, 2017

MAX LENGTH: 100 words / 12 lines

TO PARTICIPATE: Send a writing sample to salempublicspaceproject[at]gmail.com and we’ll get you started! 

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!

Mary Jane Lee Park Clean Up Day

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Informal conversations and a lot of clean up at the park

Saturday, August 30th, from nine to noon the community joined Friends of Mary Jane Lee Park and cleaned up the park! We sifted sand, removed graffiti, pulled weeds, raked grass, and of course, picked up trash. In addition to residents, we were joined by Councilpersons William Legault, at large, and Heather Famico, Ward 2.

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Some of the women of Friends of Mary Jane Lee Park, who organized the clean-up.

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After the clean-up, participants line up for pizza, juice, and cookies.

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Heather Famico, Ward 2 Councilwoman, was impressed with the cleaning efforts of her two young helpers!

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Sand sifting: sounds easier than it is!

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Nature needed a little trim too.

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Doreen Thomas, president of Friends of Mary Jane Lee Park, sure knows how to orchestrate!

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Linda Locke, Friends of Mary Jane Lee Park, welcomes Councilman Bill Legault to the effort.

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Helpers, and posters, brooms galore.

There was plenty of conversation too about the future of the park, especially since the City of Salem recently obtained a grant for a new splash-pad – a water based sculpture where children (and adults) will be able to play. You may have seen the Ring Fountain on the Boston Greenway that draws crowds on summer days. Residents have ideas about the shape and location of the welcome addition.

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Participants look at splash pad examples.

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Zena, Friends of Mary Jane Lee Park, points out her favorite spalsh pad in Albion Park, Somerville.

Have you been to any of these splash-pads around Boston?

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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

Reality and Imagination at Palmer Street Lot

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A great deal of imagination is still needed for the Palmer Street lot as it remains in a legal tangle. Last fall, we gathered over 90 suggestions of what residents hope the Palmer Lot will become in the future. It is still uncertain since its owner is still nowhere to be found, but retains the right to his property since it is current on all taxes, thanks to the mortgage company. Now, it stands, still colorful, with “community” as its tagline, but a bit of a relic before its time. As noted above: imagination is sorely needed! (and perhaps some legal knowledge wouldn’t hurt!)