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Place Lab digest • Issue #6 • Friday, August 19, 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

HOME GROWN MEALS 3 // Cookout + Cinema

ArtHouse: A Social Kitchen is a partnership project that Place Lab is working on in Gary, IN. Home Grown Meals is an ArtHouse event series that gathers Gary residents and other invited guests to share a meal and explore issues of civic import to place, community, and home. Next Friday, August 26, from 6:30–8:30pm, ArtHouse will host Home Grown Meals 3: Cookout + Cinema. The ArtHouse parking lot will be transformed for a classic backyard cookout. Kickback with neighbors, meet new faces, and welcome the artists creating ArtHouse’s public art installations. Starting at sunset, film footage will be projected onto the exterior of this soon-to-be reimagined building.

RSVP for this event here.


Arts + Public Life, which established Place Lab in 2014, is leading an ambitious redevelopment project on Chicago’s South Side. Spearheaded by the vision of internationally renowned artist and urban planner, Theaster Gates, the Arts Block is a planned cultural corridor on Garfield Boulevard in Washington Park. We invite you to join us from 1–3pm on the last Friday of every month for guided tours of the Arts Block.

In addition to a guided tour of the Arts Block, tour groups will have the opportunity to meet with a member of the Place Lab team to learn about Gates's various projects, and discuss the work being undertaken all across Chicago's South Side

Learn more and sign-up for our September tour here.

What Place Lab is digesting

Miss last Friday's edition of the digest? Read it in the archives here.
The Evolution of Chicago’s Modern Architecture
Build With Strength

Build with Strength, a coalition of the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association (NRMCA), created a video looking back at Chicago's construction development in the aftermath of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 and the use of non-combustible materials in the city ever since.
Watch video
Place-making sounds woolly – but it’s the key to fixing a divided Britain
Michael Harris, City Metric (Britain)

In some developments – Norwich, Birmingham and Northampton – local planners are performing a leading and strategic role in making places work, striking creative partnerships with developers, designers and architects.
Read more
From our bookshelf:

City Squares: Eighteen Writers on the Spirit and Significance of Squares Around the World 
by Catie Marron

Find it here
Sale of Federal Mortgages to Investors Puts Greater Burden on Blacks, Suit Says
Jessica Silver-Greenberg and Michael Corkery, The New York Times

"Nothing irritates me more than hearing that black people don’t care about their neighborhoods or so-called 'black-on-black crime.' I see black folk all the time working to improve their communities in Chicago. Whether block clubs, volunteer organizations or community groups, efficacy runs deep even if one doesn’t see it."
Read more
Building permanent paths out of poverty
Interview with David Lambert, Doggerel

David Lambert, a structural engineer in Arup’s Los Angeles office, has spent several years volunteering with the Mbesese Initiative for Sustainable Development (MISD), a nonprofit focused on reducing poverty in rural East Africa. He recently returned from Tanzania after securing the national government’s approval to build a new vocational school outside the town of Same.
Read more
No One Lived in SoHo. Then the Artists Moved in.
Interview with Aaron Shkuda, HNN

The first SoHo developed organically and cost government very little. As you write, government inaction mattered more. Policymakers only acted to legalize loft housing for artists because advocacy groups pushed them into action. Other times, city leaders seemed content to let loft tenants live illegally...To this day, many loft residents are technically living illegally. It remains a requirement that at least one resident still must be an artist certified by the Department of Cultural Affairs to live in SoHo and there are numerous residents with no connection to the arts.
Read more
Sale of Federal Mortgages to Investors Puts Greater Burden on Blacks, Suit Says
Op-ed, Chicago Sun-Times

"Nothing irritates me more than hearing that black people don’t care about their neighborhoods or so-called 'black-on-black crime.' I see black folk all the time working to improve their communities in Chicago. Whether block clubs, volunteer organizations or community groups, efficacy runs deep even if one doesn’t see it."
Read more
Atlanta’s Westside Picks Its Own Social Entrepreneurs
Oscar Perry Abello, Next City

As one of the newly announced Westside Innovation Fellows at the Center for Civic Innovation, Pyles will get support for the life-shaping aspect of being a barber. The six-month fellowship provides business training, partnerships, mentorship and early stage capital for eight social entrepreneurs on Atlanta’s Westside. Over 120 community members applied, and in May, 44 finalists got to pitch their ideas to community members, who then voted. Four of the fellows are women-led businesses, nearly all aim to create new jobs in the neighborhood, and 75 percent of the fellows live in the neighborhood they are directly serving.
Read more
How 'Maintainers,' Not 'Innovators,' Make the World Turn
Laura Bliss, CityLab

Both he and Russell also note that they have nothing against “innovators” such as Jobs and his ilk—it’s just that “maintainers” are doing so much more. “The vast majority of technologies that surround us and underpin our lives are not innovations,” Vinsel says. “And the vast majority of labor in our culture is not focused on introducing or adopting new things, but on keeping things going.”
Read more
Roseland Rehab: Teens Learn New Skills Fixing Up Abandoned Homes
Andrea V. Watson, DNA Info Chicago

A program that enlists teens to help fix up abandoned homes in Roseland has not only helped improve the neighborhood but it has inspired students to learn new skills and stay off the streets.
Read more
In Philadelphia, teaching entrepreneurship through hip-hop
Peter Applebome, The New York Times

Ethical Redevelopment Salon member Tayyib Smith is the founder of the creative agency Little Giant Creative. His program, the Institute of Hip-Hop Entrepreneurship, won over $300k in the 2016 Knight Cities Challenge. With this program, Smith, a serial entrepreneur, hopes to help people gain fiscal literacy, which might lead them to financial independence. This short article gives a little more detail about the program's concept, which is the teaching of business tools through a familiar industry.
Read more
In Detroit’s 2-Speed Recovery, Downtown Roars and Neighborhoods Sputter
Peter Applebome, The New York Times

“To say you love 5% of Detroit is like ordering a hamburger, eating the sesame seeds on the bun, and claiming you love hamburgers,” he wrote. “No sir, you like sesame seeds. You love the Tigers. You love 4 miles of Woodward. But Detroit is not what you love.”
Read more
Stay up-to-date on Place Lab projects, events, news, and happenings with our dedicated blog, SITE.
Open thread: What should Chicago do with its vacant corporate campuses?
Jay Koziarz, Curbed Chicago

As corporate cultures and demographics shift and more people want to work, live, and even raise families in the city, some have predicted that such campuses will go the way of the dodo bird. Though Motorola Mobility’s former Libertyville campus found new life as a biomedical research facility after the firm moved to the Merchandise Mart, others suburban facilities have been far less fortunate. Allstate demolished its South Barrington campus in 2012 after failing to find a buyer for its 64 acres and 516,000 square feet of office space.
Read more
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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