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A smART [sustainability + madison + art] Debrief

Posted: 2:56PM August 12th, 2014 | Comments

Submitted By: Hailey Morey

Tuesday July 29th launched the unveiling of smART [sustainability + madison +art], a program engaging residents of Madison neighborhoods to come together as a collective group in order to paint a vision of a sustainable and healthy future for their community. smART allows neighborhoods the space to discuss their needs and assets to better provide for the current residents without compromising the needs of future generations.

The pilot event took place in the Darbo-Worthington neighborhood right outside the Salvation Army next to Worthington Park. Interested by the bright tables and the smell of the grill, residents made their way over to the neighborhood discussion. Here, the community reviewed neighborhood concerns and collaborated on how to improve the area. Tasked with a mission to answer three specific questions:
          What is your vision of the neighborhood in 2070?
          What about your neighborhood is working?
          What do kids want to see?

Darbo-Worthington neighbors spent the evening sharing ideas with one another to intertwine them into one cohesive vision. This vision will be displayed as a mural in their neighborhood for remembrance and to allow for lifelong inspiration. Art can be used as a powerful tool that creates safe and engaging projects allowing residents to come together as one to express a shared perspective on the views of their future community. Community reflection allows neighborhoods to verbally celebrate their culture and preserve their proud sense of place for years to come. Art can be used as a tool to express visions and ideals while allowing for social change.

At the conversation, I was at the kid’s table where I had a front row seat of the imagination of a child’s ideal neighborhood but could still observe what adults wanted to see as well. Most kids agreed that trees, flowers, biking, and green spaces were an essential part of a neighborhood, while others had more adventurous ideas that included building a go cart track, a roller coaster, and raising unicorns in their backyards. Darbo-Worthington youth portrayed that they would like to have clean fishing spots, more community cook-outs, block parties, bike paths, and bike rodeos all in trash free environments. During the event, neighbors pointed out favorite assets like the basketball court, Worthington Park, and Women of Worthington while affordable housing, safe streets, and growing community gardens are all improvements wanted in the neighborhood by 2070 with - of course - laughter and happiness. I saw many families enjoying the festivities, despite the pouring rain, the conversations continued indoors. 

Having a group of people share ideas and find a collective vision helps bring a community closer together. Through continued engagement and evaluation, Sustain Dane hopes to see these results in the Darbo-Worthington community. Nonetheless, neighbors proved that they are already excited for positive change. In the Fall, the neighborhood will proudly reveal the final mural which will act as a reminder for the sustainable and healthier vision that this community shares. We imagine that smART can continue to advance the views of Madison communities to provide residents a solid foundation for generations to come. smART will continue to inspire one neighborhood at a time – I hope you continue to follow the progress of this project.

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