architecture · community · creativity

Public art makes people invested in the land: an OpenIDEO idea

OpenIDEO asked “How might we inspire and enable communities to take more initiative in making their local environments better?”

One of my responses:


Install public art to create community, sense of place

Install public murals and other public art to create a sense of place and add beauty to urban spaces, which leads to more interest in and conservation of the environment as a whole, including the natural environment.

Public art creates a sense of place and space, and makes people more aware of their environments, more invested in the space, and more interested in preserving other things in their environment.
From a Grist article: “dozens of painted plazas, dubbed Intersection Repairs, pepper the map not just of Portland but also of Los Angeles, New York, St. Paul, and Seattle.
“In Seattle, a City Repair chapter formed and facilitated several intersection painting projects, including a ladybug in the Wallingford neighborhood. Residents meet annually to repaint the mural and hold a block party. “Our goal is to cut down traffic and bring the community together and create a sense of neighborhood,” Eric Higbee, who led the ladybug painting, told the Seattle Times.
“It’s not about the paint,” says professor Jan Semenza, a professor of public health at Portland State University who lives near the Sunnyside Piazza and has researched intersection repairs. “It’s about neighbors creating something bigger than themselves.” As an everyday intersection becomes someplace special, residents begin to experience the value of community.”
There are other examples of public art and murals being installed that have created a renaissance in a neighborhood, from New York to Brazil.
Guerilla street art has also started to appear over the last couple of years, creating awareness and interest in preserving the community. In Seattle, when a woman knit a sweater for a tree, it created interest in the tree and a desire to preserve it. Even something as simple as “repairing” walls and buildings with colorful Legos, such as the work that Jan Vormann has been doing for the last couple of years, has made people more invested in repairing and preserving their community.
While it is not a direct impact on the natural environment, it is a positive impact on the built environment, and does create a sense of place and overall higher investment in the neighborhood and local environment.

Read about their next challenge too.