What makes INPLACE unique is that it began by asking the community of Youngstown: How can we use art to make our city better? Art, in this case, does not mean a purely aesthetic exercise. Here art is an inclusive exercise that looks for unseen opportunities in the urban spaces of Youngstown and in the everyday patterns of use of the city. Art as keen observation and reaction to make the city livelier, more useable and welcoming to all its inhabitants.
After the initial call the project received fifteen impressive responses with projects located all over Youngstown’s downtown and its surrounding neighborhoods. After a rigorous process five teams were selected. The five groups include projects that improve and highlight key infrastructure, add new street furniture and provide platforms for performances that tell the story of Youngstown’s past and speculate on its future.
The five projects are located in strategically significant places in the city. For example, the Wedge at Hazel Hill is a breezy spot that offers panoramic views of Downtown Youngstown, providing a crucial link between Youngstown State University and the heart of the city’s commercial district. Light the Community invites us to take a walk along Emily Street to discover a lighting installation under the Market Street Bridge, an important connection between the downtown district and emerging developments along the Mahoning River. Dramatic new lighting for the Mahoning Arch frames the entry point to the arts community and the natural assets of the Mahoning Commons. Each of these projects helps us to see familiar places in new ways and to imagine opportunities for the future.
This is, after all, the importance of INPLACE, it allows us to think about the future. In that, INPLACE joins a larger movement of projects all over the world in which artists lead the way to rethink urban spaces, uses and services.
Quilian Riano & Terry Schwarz
INPLACE Team Members
Principal and Founder
Architectural, Urban Design & Art Studio
Kent State University
Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative
As part of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation’s National Creative Placemaking team I have had the honor and privilege of visiting some of the most outstanding arts- and culture- infused community development projects across the country, including INPLACE in Youngstown Ohio. At LISC we define creative placemaking as the process of residents coming together to make social, physical and economic changes in their neighborhoods through the arts and culture, and if I have learned anything from my travels, it is that this form of resident-led community decision-making is a vital component of comprehensive neighborhood revitalization.
INPLACE is an excellent demonstration of a creative placemaking strategy that provides a platform on which residents of various ages and backgrounds are building on existing assets, valuing process as much as end product. The project has stitched together people and place in ways that have undoubtedly deepened community connections and created a shared vision for transformation.
The five INPLACE projects infuse the public realm with beauty, energy, and even playfulness, and I applaud the artist teams as well as their many remarkable cross sector partners and supporters for their dedication, resourcefulness, and the intrepid spirit it takes to launch a new project at this scale. What I especially enjoy about the projects, however, is their utility– each one addressing a specific challenge and reframing it as an opportunity.
As a stellar example of creative placemaking, the INPLACE teams were not asked to simply be creative; rather the teams were challenged to use a creative approach to solve a particular problem. My challenge to the artist teams, the people who view this exhibition, and those that experience the five projects in person is to think of INPLACE as one in a series of steps towards normalizing an approach that blends your community’s sense of beauty history and identity with entrepreneurship and innovation, ultimately making Youngstown a better place to live, work and play.
Local Initiatives Support Corporation, National Creative Placemaking