The ArtPlace Annual Summit was held in Jackson, Mississippi in April and Glass House Collective co-founder and executive director, Teal Thibaud, was a part of the community of professional creative placemakers from around the United States participating this year.

ArtPlace America believes that traditional community planning and development has not always led to communities being equitable, healthy and sustainable as they should be.

The work we do at Glass House aligns with ArtPlace’s belief that the arts and culture sector has the necessary tools, knowledge and skills that can be deployed in partnership with the traditional community planning and development efforts to improve communities. That is the heart of creative placemaking. And that is why in 2012 ArtPlace America chose Glass House Collective as a recipient of one of their major placemaking grants that allowed us to begin our work in East Chattanooga.

As our work here continues to evolve with the community, it is also important to step back and touch base with our peers at the Summit. The annual gathering brings peers together for several days of learning and connecting on some of the most pressing issues facing communities today. The format of seminars, workshops, peer exchanges and plenaries has become a valuable laboratory and classroom for new idea and inspiration.

This year was no different.

Teal said she especially appreciated and was inspired by the sessions on Arts and Anti-Displacement, Artists and Equitable Evaluation, and Creative Placemaking from the Ground Up.

“It is so beautiful and important to be able to take time to dream and stop for a moment to imagine what’s possible,” she said.

So much good work is being done by organizations like Glass House Collective in communities across the country and Teal knows the value of stepping away from the intensity of the work and re-connecting with colleagues to take a bigger picture.

“I saw and heard about so many good ideas and examples from other communities. The Summit was incredibly inspiring!”

Topics that matter to Glass Farm were discussed at many of the sessions offered this year along with tools and techniques to bring home to tackle the issues. Community leaders from diverse backgrounds shared strategies and techniques for reducing gentrification and displacement using artists and organizations in community planning and design processes. Hearing how equity is becoming a priority for creative placemaking practitioners resonated with the work GHC is focused on in East Chattanooga. But also listening to other professionals unpack best practices on evaluating equity work was extremely helpful and thought provoking when thinking of our own processes and outcomes here at home.

Ensuring that the community we serve is always at the heart of our strategies is our priority. It was inspiring and invaluable to hear other community leaders discuss and share ways to ensure projects are chosen and shaped by the people most affected by the outcomes.

ArtPlace America is a ten-year collaboration among a number of foundations, federal agencies and financial institutions. The work began in 2011 and will be wrapping up next year in 2020. Their mission is to position arts and culture as a core sector of community planning and development.

photo credit:  Lydia Brewer , ArtPlace America

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