SYN-| European Creative Hubs Forum | Athens
DATES: 26-28 JANUARY
LOCATION: ROMANTSO, ATHENS
ORGANISER: BIOS ATHENS ON BEHALF OF THE EUROPEAN CREATIVE HUBS NETWORK
Bios invited me to keynote the SYN, the second European Creative Hubs Network Forum, held in Athens, Greece, this January. It is a gathering more than 100 creative hubs from all over Europe to explore the theme of growth in terms of:
Follow the journey around this incredible city: @popuphood instagram and twitter with #ECHNforumAthens #creativehubs #Syn #popuphood.
I will be visiting civic projects and additional co-working and creative hubs while I am there. Of course I will also visit the tourist sites, museums, and spend time with the many brilllinat folks that are visiting from all over Europe. Stay tuned for more posts recapping the forum.
Innovation and design.
Lost Arts Studio Visit:
I couldn't go to Chicago and NOT check out the new Lost Arts space. They were generous enough to take an hour to tour us around, share their vision, and talk to us about the ecosystem of Chicago innovation. I LOVE the space and their ethos of flex space for projects is what is most needed for prototyping the future of our cities. Only a few Universities have space and equipment like this, which makes a public membership space even more important. I also love that it started as a pop-up and grew into a larger second and more permanent space after a one month project.
In their own words: "Lost Arts is a blend of laboratory, workshop, atelier, incubator and playground rooted in a legacy of interdisciplinary spaces like the Bauhaus and Black Mountain College. Whether you need a desk to work at, a lightweight prototyping and production facility, art studio or event space we have you covered. At Lost Arts, ambitious creatives have the tools, resources, and kinship they need to bring new ideas to life. Focus on a personal project. Start a business. Discover a new discipline. Explore an idea, then build it." Special thank you to Dustin and to the founder Charles Alder! Read more here.
Chicago Design Museum:
This was another stop of ours, the Chicago Design Museum. Although in a mall, we were impressed with the installation, gift shop, and studio in the back all sharing a space that hosted various exhibitions and critical investigations of design within the city. The current exhibition was the "City of Ideas: Architects’ Voices and Visions" an "ongoing conceptual installation project, inaugurated at Sydney University’s Tin Sheds Gallery and traveling to ChiDM from October 2016 to February 2017. Its key objective is to present original voices and visions of leading international architects recorded and transcribed by curator Vladimir Belogolovsky." I think we will see more of this, utilizing empty mall spaces for civic minded and engaged concept spaces. To be honest I was more interested in the shop / office space in the back, and wanted to know a bit more about how the experiment was leading them. For an architectural and design space it had a VERY specific aesthetic that did not challenge the raw space with plywood and black paint look, yet I look forward to how they settle in to the space and push further into building it out to look more inviting and inclusive.
Cloud Gate was a landmark that we had to see. It struck me how long we linguered not only to interact with it but to talk to the other people there share our experiences around it. This is the power of art and specifically sculpture to bend our attention to place. In the wake of the current political climate following the election, I am moved by his response only weeks after I had a chance to see it for the first time, to paint it black. "Taking advantage of his exclusive rights to make artistic use of the high-tech, light-absorbing material Vantablack, the British artist Anish Kapoor has covered the entire surface of his Chicago public sculpture “Cloud Gate” (2006) with it. He comments: 'I think the Vantablack version is more about introspection, about becoming disoriented, lost, and enveloped in an overwhelming void of nothingness.'" - Hyperallergic
He says this about the role of sculpture in public space: "I think that there’s a lot that can be done in terms of engaging real public space. For the most part, all the symbolic values that we’ve given public squares, objects in public squares, etc. etc.—all those things are gone...One has to look somewhere else for those deeper communal values...Sculpture plays a whole role in the whole process of us saying, “What is our communal space?” Cities generally speaking are planned to death. They don’t allow room! They don’t allow even the smallest room for this kind of innovative, open-ended process that looks at, “What does it mean to properly participate? " - City Lab
After great recommendations here is where we ate in Chicago. The special occasion? You're Mom only celebrates her 70th Birthday once! Our first stop was El Che. Because meat, a wall of fire, and a pretty amazing bathroom. From the site: "El Che Bar exudes the contemporary rhythms of Buenos Aires through a local lens, evoking inviting vibes with sultry and subtle nods to South American culture. [...] The expansive hearth serves up classic wood-fired Al Asador. Locally sourced vegetables, grilled meats, and seafood are cooked on custom-built grills and chapas." We met the Chef John Manion, he was generous with champagne, a great bar recommendation, and a cute pic with Mom.
The Pelican was another favorite place! Because meat. Again.
I wanted to share a bit about our keynote presentation at The ULI Changing World Speaker Series: Shaping Cities and Communities for the ULI (Urban Land Institute) Fall Conference in Dallas, TX.
The panel focused on the themes of changing communities and pushing real estate from outside the industry. In many ways Popuphood does just that. From their website: "Cities and communities are shaped by the ideas and interactions of the people within them. Thought leaders will shine a spotlight on how creating community and accelerating innovation can revitalize and reconnect cities and neighborhoods." My fellow panelists included keynote speakers Jason Hall of Slow Roll, Detroit and Peter Kageyama of Alliance for Innovation.
It was a chance to share Popuphood's social mission and how we have evolved over the last 5 years as well as to hear from Peter about loving our cities, and Jason Halls' perspective on the role of cycling together as a strategy to bring community together through exploring and celebrating one's city.
We had a chance to explore Deep Ellum, a neighborhood that felt like a movie set with a edge. New bars and restaurants attracted to the human scale of the historical buildings and the established places that served up big plates with live music. Basically we loved it.
A bit about ULI, they Connect with the World of Real Estate. With more than 6,000 leaders from around the world and from every sector of real estate and land use the conference brings everyone together to share best practices and get the latest information on trends affecting the industry. Thank you to ULI for the honor of presenting and for all the good work ULI does in cities across the country!
Recent Press, ULI Magazine
ULI Fall Meeting, Changing the world speaker series.
This year, I have the privilege of co-facilitating MIT's Ulab MOOC with over 75,000 participants focused on the theme of the Future of Cities. In partnership with The Institute for the Future and the Global network of Impact Hub's we are exploring leading from the emerging future through an incredible framework to understand systems thinking and change: "Transforming Business, Society, and Self, a global movement to build a new economy by co-sensing and co-creating the emerging future.
Midway through the "U" I experienced a new awareness of the political and social systems defining our moment in history. I could feel these systems as closed systems, outdated, and and sensed that something new was required to connect and adabt the existing systems in order for them to operate together. I was searching for a Theory of Interoperability.
I walked into Gray Area Foundation for the Arts and saw it. A free and open source 3D printable Universal Construction Kit (http://fffff.at/free-universal-construction-kit/) which connects any type of building kit (e.g. legos) to any other type of building kit (e.g. Tinkertoys).
This was the new "universal language" hybrid model, a way to join one or more closed systems together to form a new outcome. This is a perfect metaphor and provides a new vocabulary for interoperability which also hints at how we might transform social systems that are functioning in isolation, and therefore not innovating. We talk about cross-sector collaboration, collective impact, and de-siloing our work in order to achieve better outcomes, but we still seem to be creating outcomes that no one wants. The ways in which we collaborate seem clunky, because they are. We have hacked our 20th century models into various prototypes because these systems are not designed to go together, just like trying to get a lego piece to fit with a tinker toy. The Universal language of connectivity provides a metaphor for connecting these closed systems to work together in the 21c and help us prototype new solutions.
I use this model of interoperability to prototype certain "Hard" solutions to connect, de- silo, and join together systems, ideas, business in new models of working together to create innovative solutions based on collaboration and co-operation. "Synching" organizations, departments, or even community assets within a planning context, can yield great results. This process works when a new "thing" has to be created in order to work better together. Sometimes it is policy, process, or it is shifting the place and its shape. Yet, in our work in communities sometimes the process of transformation, either personally or collectively feels much more terrifying, like a cliff with no bridge to the other side. What is required then?
Next I will talk about the "soft" solution that addresses what happens when we need to dissolve the systems all together. What is the metaphor for systems change, for disruption and dissolution? What is a metaphor that helps us let go in order for something new to emerge?