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Place Lab digest • Issue #11 • Friday, September 23, 2016
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The Place Lab digest is a weekly round-up of pertinent news, opinion, investigations, and explorations of the arts, architecture, and city-building in Chicago and beyond.

This week @ Place Lab

Artist Theaster Gates surprises Akron Roundtable with a ‘different’ speech

The Beacon Journal's Jim Mackinnon reflects on the roundtable as performance art

On Thursday, September 15, Theaster Gates and members of Place Lab attended a roundtable in Akron, OH, one of Place Lab's demonstration cities. Theaster was the roundtable's guest speaker, and his personal style made as much of an impression as the content of the speech itself. As Mackinnon writes:

"The roundtable audience came prepared to listen to a talk dryly billed as, 'Importance of an Artist as an Entrepreneur.'


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Investing in People + Place: Reflections on the Akron Roundtable

From September 14–15, Theaster Gates and Place Lab team members Lori Berko and Carson Poole participated in a series of events in Akron, Ohio, as part of the Akron Roundtable. Now celebrating its 40th year, the mission of the Akron Roundtable is to bring speakers to the city who inform, educate, and stimulate listeners on topics of importance to the region, the country, and the world. In this entry, Place Lab’s project specialist Carson Poole reflects on the conversations had at the September 14th discussion sessions.

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What Place Lab is digesting

The Grand Exchange: Understanding the Black and White
A conversation from July 2016

Approximately 150 people came together to have a conversation about race at The Grand Exchange in Akron, Ohio. The conversation was organized by Wesley Ian, a local beekeeper and soul singer and Jeremy Lile, who leads the Grand Exchange. The film shows what transpired that evening.
Watch video
Johnston Marklee Named Artistic Directors of the 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial
ArchDaily Editorial Team

For the 2017 Biennial, the duo have selected the theme of “Make New History,” which will explore two central ideas: “the axis between history and modernity and the axis between architecture and art.” The theme looks to examine the relationship between history and contemporary architecture, as well as the connection between architecture and art. Precedents will be analyzed at different scales and through the lens of Chicago's own rich architectural history.
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Stay up-to-date on Place Lab projects, events, news, and happenings with our dedicated blog, SITE.
"When we are trying to come up with new health laws, you bring doctors, you bring experts in medicine. In urban planning, you bring the best architects. How it is possible that when we are talking about the way we are going to feed America, no chef shows up in the room?"
—José Andrés
Blueprints for renewal: Professor of urban design and public policy Brent Ryan believes good architecture can help revive cities
Peter Dizikes, MIT News Office 

Near the city of New Haven, Ryan recalls, he encountered a series of 19th-century row houses, marred by an eyesore of a 1980s house that had been tacked on to the end...That one experience didn’t send Ryan headlong into a design career — he was a biology major at Yale University who later recommitted to design — but it did reinforce a very specific idea that has animated his work: In cities, particularly those struggling with postindustrial renewal, design matters greatly.
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Chicago’s plan to eliminate traffic deaths stirs concerns of profiling and overpolicing 
John Greenfield, Chicago Reader

The Vision Zero initiative brings the possibility of more encounters between police and people using the streets...concentrated in the communities that are disproportionately impacted by severe crashes, largely low- to moderate-income neighborhoods on the south and west sides.
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EXPLORE: Participatory City

Over 12 months, a team built a new participatory system in West Norwood, London - the first of its kind. With residents, the team designed and tested 20 new practical projects. Explore the Participatory City website to learn what happened.
Read the research report that documents the evidence base for the Participatory City project.
Miss last Friday's edition of the digest? Read it in the archives here.
Jane Jacob's Street Smarts: What the urbanist and writer got so right about cities—and what she got wrong. 
Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker

That’s where planning matters and politics counts. Jacobs seldom gives a good account of the place of politics in city-making. Politics for her is Robert Moses telling moms where the expressway should run. Politics is the planners, and exists as an afterthought to the natural order of cities. And it’s true: politics isn’t a self-organizing system. It’s not a ballet. It’s a battle. But it remains essential to reconcile goods, like free streets and fair housing, that will never reconcile themselves.
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National Public Housing Museum officially has its home
Steve Johnson, Chicago Tribune

The National Public Housing Museum now officially has its home, after a Chicago Housing Authority board approved a long-term, $1-per-year lease agreement for the non-profit in the CHA property it has been working out of on Taylor Street...
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VIDEO: The NPHM Tells Its Story

The National Public Housing Museum is a place of stories that mine the vastly complex history of public and publicly subsidized housing in America. 
Watch video
Why is it so hard for Toronto to think big?
Edward Keenan, 
Toronto Star

I want to fall in love with this thing because I imagine in my mind’s eye what it could be, in a dead zone of the city right now, in the heart of a growing central area, and think: “What a kick-ass awesome thing that would be to have in the city."...That is, I want to live in a city that thinks enough of itself to build the big magnificent park, but I know I live in a city where often those in charge think we don’t even deserve a nice place to pee.
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The rise and fall of community policing in Chicago 
Nissa Rhee, Manny Ramos, and Andrea Salcedo, Chicago Reader

Chicago used to be at the vanguard of community policing. But more than two decades after the strategy was launched, CAPS is a shadow of its former self.
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Helping Wall Street Come Closer to Main Street
Oscar Perry Abello, Next City

There’s always a need for more sources of capital to create housing, jobs and services for underinvested neighborhoods. Aeris wants to help CDFIs attract capital from people who manage those other buckets of money.
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Claudia Rankine: Society Is ‘in a State of Emergency’
Sarah Begley, Time Magazine

The poet and newly minted MacArthur genius has plans for a "Racial Imaginary Institute"...Claudia Rankine has been named to the 2016 class of MacArthur fellows—or as they’re commonly known, geniuses. It’s an award that comes with great respect and a big payout—$625,000 paid over five years. But for the author of Citizen: An American Lyric, the honor feels like it’s as much for herself as it is for her subject: race relations in America.
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A Diversified Economy Cushions Columbus, Ohio, From Downturns
Sonari Glinton and NPR's All Things Considered

Much of the anger and anxiety in the 2016 election are fueled by the sense that economic opportunity is slipping away for many Americans. This week, as part of NPR's collaborative project with member stations, A Nation Engaged, we're asking the question: What can be done to create economic opportunity for more Americans?
Listen + Read
From our bookshelf:

Wabi Sabi: The Japanese Art of Impermanence
by Andrew Juniper

Purchase it here
What's new about the New Urban Agenda?
Naki B. Mendoza , Devex Impact 

A final draft of the New Urban Agenda has now been agreed upon and made public. But is it a detailed enough blueprint to achieve some of the key urbanization targets that world leaders endorsed in the Sustainable Development Goals this time last year...The New Urban Agenda aims to be the international community’s foremost guide for sustainable urban development over the next 20 years. By agreeing to a final draft version, United Nations delegates cleared a major hurdle ahead of next month’s Habitat III summit.
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Read draft agenda
Performance Art At The Hirshhorn: Theaster Gates & The Black Monks of Mississippi
The Kojo Nnamdi Show

Artist and social change advocate Theaster Gates leads the Black Monks of Mississippi and three athletes from Howard University in a performance organized by the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden to coincide with the opening of its newest neighbor on the Mall, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. We speak with Theaster Gates as well as the head track coach at Howard University about the performance, “Processions.”
Listen now
In danger: Incentives that help save blighted neighborhoods
Mark Angelini, Crain's Chicago Business

Transformations like this depend on three primary tax incentives (two federal and one state), two of which are now under threat in Washington, D.C., and Springfield. As president of Mercy Housing Lakefront, a nonprofit committed to building healthy neighborhoods through affordable and supportive housing, I see each day how important these tax credits are to building healthy neighborhoods; I also see how clearly they return value to taxpayers.
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New Report Examines Values and Needs of Artists
National Endowment for the Arts

Creativity Connects: Trends and Conditions Affecting U.S. Artists...examines issues familiar to the arts world such as funding and training, but also widens the lens to look at the effect of other forces shaping the work environment for artists including technology, the gig economy, student debt, and the growth of cross-disciplinary work.
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Place Lab is a team of professionals from the diverse fields of law, urban planning, architecture, design, social work, arts administration, and gender and cultural studies.  A partnership between Arts + Public Life, an initiative of UChicago Arts, and the Harris School of Public Policy, Place Lab is a catalyst for mindful urban transformation and creative redevelopment. Led by renowned artist and University of Chicago faculty member Theaster Gates, this joint enterprise merges Chicago Harris’ Cultural Policy Center’s commitment to cultural policy and evidence-based analysis with Place Lab’s work at Arts + Public Life on arts- and culture-led neighborhood transformation.
Copyright © 2016 Place Lab, All rights reserved.

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