2018 CNU Place Summit Cincinnati Debrief

Over the first weekend of November, two of our staff members Adam Rakestraw (researcher and placemaker) and Elizabeth Nash (community outreach and development) had the pleasure of attending the 2018 Congress for New Urbanism Midwests (CNU) Place Summit. This is a recap of their presentation, reflections, and key take-aways from the conference.

About the midwest CNU chapter and their goals:

CNU Midwest is the regional chapter of the Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) serving the states and cities that border the Ohio River and beyond—the nation’s first corridor of westward expansion. Once the home of the industrial revolution, Midwestern towns and cities are well positioned to grow in our current urban renaissance. As a leading voice in this renaissance, CNU Midwest is a diverse group of professionals dedicated to promoting the value that results from great placemaking through traditional and new approaches to:

  1. Reclaiming public space for people,
  2. Reactivating and reconnecting neighborhoods as the vibrant building block of towns and cities, and
  3. Championing urban development that is enduring, adaptable, and human scaled.

The event invited regional urbanist thinkers, designers, planners, and placemakers to discuss topics facing the midwest. Each speaker was given 7-10 minutes to discuss new urbanist trends, ideas, and inspirations on how to address the current issues. After sequence of three presentations, breakout sessions were held in which small groups formed to further discuss topics and investigate points of intersection between the present ideas and new ones. Some of the small breakout group topics include: City Soundscapes, Legacy Cities, engaging with Climate Change deniers, CNU networking, trees as infrastructure, addressing homelessness, and designing for art, placemaking. The small group discussions presented a format that was more intimate and tired to push ideas into the realm of exploration, and for us, inspiration.

Adam and Elizabeth co-produced and presented on Repairing Social Infrastructure: Programming and Research. The presentation  unpacked Big Car’s organization, projects, programming, and research to make a case for placemaking initiatives in our region.

Their thesis is that the decline in social infrastructure (sociability) leads to feelings of loneliness, isolation, and should be treated as a public health concern. Their lecture augured placemaking and the Arts can act as a catalyst to spark conversation around the decline of social bonds and social infrastructure. Which is placed under the urban redevelopment debate; What if All Community Development Started with Local Arts and Culture?. Broadly speaking, their presentation was to open discussions around the intersection of urbanism, the Arts and placemaking, and social issues. As well as, to bring an outside Arts-focused perspective in framing issues within urbanism and problem-solving.

Fundamentally, they and Big Car argue if we what stronger communities; there needs to be a bridge to the Arts.

Some key take-aways from the discussions;

  • Key Indianapolis issues are massive job and population loss, service job growth in suburbs and downtown but significant decline in most neighborhoods, need for more public transportation, and automobile-dominated transportation system
  • The lexicon in New Urbanism needs a be reaching a boarder, simpler rhetoric in the public and local sphere.
  • Key topic to address for New Urbanism is how to address the decline of manufacturing to 21st-century production in emerging economies in automation, the service economy, and the gig economy.
  • Climate change will bring about mass migration, especially from the south to safe haven cities in the Midwest within the next 100 years.
  • The Midwest has the physical Infrastructures to support larger communities. Mostly in the form of abandon and vacant post-industrial building from the start white flight (1960’s) to the decline in manufacturing (1980s – 2000s), and the recent economic recession (2008).
  • Legacy Cities Initiative is a central focal point in spurring equitable revitalization in former industrial cities
  • Can CNU strengthen its existing networks by not reinventing organizations across the midwest, but rather operate under already existing organizations that are indirectly involved in New Urbanism.
  • Arts, design, and New Urbanism go hand-in-hand with the arts and culture focused on the social space of communities networks and bonds; and design focused on the physical space — hard infrastructure, amenities, planning. More metropolitan departments and urban planners should be hiring socially-engaged artist and placemakers into their practice.   

Adam and Elizabeth were very pleased to present on Big Car’s work. In their own words, “[we] thoroughly enjoyed the weekend and the company with CNU.  More so, we very much enjoyed the conversations and the depth of them, as those dialogues Big Car always wanted to participate in and recognizes the importance of such”. Big Car Collaborative is very humble to have been invited to CNU Midwest 2018 Place Summit. We look forward to future involvements with CNU Midwest and keeping to New Urbanist ideas!

If you would like to know more about CNU:

Midwest Chapter: www.cnumidwest.org

Facebook: www.facebook.com/cnumidwest/

National Organization: https://www.cnu.org

Would you like Big Car to visit and share with your organization?

Contact us here: email hidden; JavaScript is required

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Live in the Garfield Park Neighborhood?

Live in the Garfield Park Neighborhood?

Hello Neighbor! Are you a current resident of the Garfield Park neighborhood?
If so would you mind participating in a short, 10 minute survey?
Big Car Collaborative is currently collecting data over the experiences of residents in the Garfield Park Neighborhood. The more residents we have participate, the better!
We are collecting this information to have an understanding on how neighborhood social bonds are formed, how well the neighborhood is connected to each other, to public amenities, green spaces, and to the Arts.
All responses will be kept anonymous. All data collection will take place in the months of October – December. With results made public sometime in early spring. If you have any questions email Big Car at email hidden; JavaScript is required, our researcher Adam at email hidden; JavaScript is required, or stop by the Tube Factory headquarters at 1125 Cruft Street.
Thank you for your participation!
Survey Link:
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Share A Story or Share Your Story-new community projects with Adam Rakestraw

Share A Story or Share Your Story-new community projects with Adam Rakestraw

Hello Community! 

Big Car Collaborative’s resident researcher and placemaker, Adam Rakestraw, is working on two community projects that needs your attention and support! 

The first arts project, The Lockerbie Story Project, is a continuous fictional story made from the imagination of individuals and a typewriter in public space. The project seeks to reanimate the art of storytelling by asking participants to imagine, world-build, and write! The project is an intimate way to reconnect to the long tradition of storytelling and myth by writing on a Royal Epoch typewriter in the middle of Lockerbie Square in Indianapolis, Indiana. Rather it is only a line or a paragraph, each participant sets the next scenario, describes the situations, or just rambles on by reading the previous lines of a total stranger. Yet the fundamental of storytelling are ever present. It’s a form of social engagement and interaction typically with no conclusion, as it’s the journey that matters. 

The Lockerbie Story project takes place every Thursday 11-1:00pm in Lockerbie Square next to Needlers Fresh Market,320 N New Jersey St. It runs from late August to November. You can also take part at Tube Factory artspace on Mondays. Once the story reaches an end-point, it will be translated to become a graphic zine emailed to all participants. Come be apart of the project! 

The second community project is the Garfield Park Porch Project,  which highlights stories and memories about neighborhood change from the perspective of Garfield Park residents, -especially long term residents. And all from the comfort of their front porch!

To continue on the dialogue emerging from the film, The Florida Project, the porch project attempts to play on various underlying themes present from the film, -disenfranchisement, wonder, utopianism, joy, underrepresentation, marginalization, and facade. Like in The Florida Project, The Porch Project ultimately seeks to be a continuous challenge to the modern, “American Dream” national narrative present in the U.S. As The Porch Project is set to capture an ethos of the neighborhood from the perspective of residents currently facing a demographic shift in the area.

The Porch Project discussions will run from August until November, with a exhibition date for February. Any willing resident of the Garfield Park neighborhood is encouraged to reach out!  

If you’d like to be apart of either project, you can contact Adam at email hidden; JavaScript is required.


Adam obtained his Master of Arts degree in the Netherlands from Universiteit Utrecht in Art and Society. He is also holds Bachelor of Science degrees in Fine Art, Anthropology, and Art History from University of Southern Indiana. Located in his hometown, Evansville, Indiana. 

The research topics Adam focuses on include creative cities, creative economies, and arts activism. Six years experience as a creative producer and researcher in the Arts & Culture and Urban Development sectors. He researches on European Arts policies with think-tank EUrArt, alongside being an artist, writer, academic, and creative cities developer. As of Spring 2018 he was accepted into Winchester School of Art, U.K. for his Ph.D research into creative city development and will join the school in Fall 2019. 

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Sunny Side Up: Building Community Through Food and Friendly Fowls

Sunny Side Up: Building Community Through Food and Friendly Fowls

Here at Big Car Collaborative we’re preparing to expand our Garfield Park base of operations with a new crowdfunding campaign. Sunny Side Up: Building Community Through Food and Friendly Fowls is our second undertaking with with Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority’s CreatINg Places program (IHCDA). And we need your help!

“We know that one of the best ways to bring people together is with food,” says Big Car CEO and Lead Artist Jim Walker. “Our Garfield Park neighborhood currently offers little in the way of spaces with food and drink where people of all ages can gather. Still, our neighbors – including several of our staff artists – strongly support the weekly farmer’s market, and food trucks and art vendors at our monthly First Friday night market. So we’re very excited to expand the idea of an arts-based cafe culture that brings more people together informally.”

Our vision includes an artist-built “Chicken Chapel of Love” that will serve as a wedding and meditation space, and as a hangout for our growing flock of chickens. Inside the Tube, we’re making plans for a social kitchen and a serving space. Sunny Side Up will further enhance our calendar with free programs about food, nutrition, and urban agriculture.

“We’ll work with artists who working with food as part of their social practice, visiting chefs and other restaurant partners to prepare community meals together,” says Walker. “Plus we’ll build an iconic home for our chickens that doubles as a one-of-a-kind piece of functional public art.”

Our goal is to raise $50,000 via the crowdfunding platform Patronicity by October 19, 2018. Once we reach our goal, IHCDA will provide a matching grant bringing the total amount of funding for Sunny Side Up to $100,000. “This means that, if you donate $100, we receive $200,” says Walker. “And, in the end, we’ll have collected a transformational $100,000 to further build community through food and drink.”

Rewards – including original chicken art from Big Car staff artists, and invitations to special events and happenings – are available at every level of support. But if we don’t collect $50,000 by October 19, then we receive nothing. “With everyone’s help,” says Walker, “we know we can do this!”

To learn more and become a supporter of Sunny Side Up, visit patronicity.com/sunnysideup. We’re also accepting cash donations at Tube Factory or Listen Hear.  To make donations by check, make payable to Big Car Collaborative, include “Sunny Side Up Campaign” in the memo line, and mail to:

Tube Factory artspace
1125 Cruft St.
Indianapolis, IN 46203

For more information, contact email hidden; JavaScript is required or stop by the Tube Factory.

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Calls for Artists!!

Calls for Artists!!

Call for Artist-in-Residence and Artist-led projects at Indianapolis City Market


Spark City Market, a partnership between Indianapolis City Market and Big Car Collaborative’s Spark Placemaking program — with funding from a Southwest Airlines Heart of the Community grant — seeks an artist-in-residence to develop, facilitate, and engage in place-based programming. This will happen over five months in the remainder of 2018 at City Market with a start in August. The artist in-residence will work to bring engaging, interactive art experiences to people at this public place and further the partnership’s focus on social cohesion and community resiliency. Some of this work will happen in connection with social services partners such as Horizon House, the Coalition for Homelessness Intervention and Prevention (CHIP), and the YMCA at City Market.

Project Description
Spark City Market – Heart of the Community is a placemaking effort for public spaces in downtown Indianapolis, supported by Southwest Airlines and Project for Public Spaces in partnership with Indianapolis City Market. In 2016, Spark Placemaking partnered with City Market to plan and test ways to revitalize the market’s East Plaza into active public space. In 2017, they began implementing a plan that includes free games, various community and artist-led art activities, and multiple successful public events. This year, Big Car and City Market are continuing efforts to make Indianapolis City Market an even more active and inclusive space. The artist-in-residence will join in making this happen.

Project Goals & Criteria
The City Market Artist-in-residence will be expected to spend 10-15 hours per week (mostly on-site) for 20 weeks developing and facilitating ongoing programs or one-time events related to Indianapolis City Market. This work may focus on things like food, international cultural experiences, and community meals that bring diverse people together. Successful projects and programs should achieve some (if not all) of the following:

  • Connect people of all backgrounds and involve them in art and creativity
  • Add aspects of art and culture to existing events such as the weekly Farmer’s Market
  • Establish deeper social connections with and between the wide variety of citizens who
    utilize City Market and form its community
  • Strengthen relationships/develop programming with immigrants and refugees,
    underserved low-income residents, and the homeless population
  • Build and foster relationships with Downtown neighbors in the area

Indianapolis City Market (222 E Market St) interior and exterior spaces.

  • Artist Eligibility
  • An Indianapolis-based artist is preferred, but it is not required.
  • Open to artists of all mediums and practices.
  • Open to artist teams and solo artists.
  • Open to professional artists and students.
  • Artists who have experience interacting with diverse communities are encouraged to apply.
  • Artists with an interest in socially engaged approaches and social practice art are encouraged to apply.

$5,000 + materials/supplies budget and staff assistance/support

Proposal Requirements
Please submit (1) a statement of interest, (2) resume or short biography, (3) any audio or visual representations of your art practice, and (4) a description of a proposed project/activity to Elizabeth Nash at email hidden; JavaScript is required ​by 5 pm on Friday, Aug. 3​.

Project Timeline
Application Deadline: August 3 at 5 pm
Artist Selection/Notification: August 10, 2018
Project Start Date: August 2018
Project End Date: January 2018
Hours per Week: 10-15

Spark Placemaking 2018 Call for Artists


COMPENSATION:  $100-$200 for a 1-2 hour engagement.  Materials and supplies plus staff support are also provided.

DEADLINE:  Applications will be taken on a rolling basis from July through November 2018 with engagements scheduled for a date shortly after application.

Project Description
The Spark team collaborates with communities who invite Spark in to work with them to test and implement approaches for people-focused public places and streets. Led by artists, planners, and active citizens, Spark works to foster connectivity, community, culture, and creativity through engagement-based arts activities. This year, Spark continues its efforts to make Indianapolis public places more active and inclusive.

Activity Goals & Criteria
A successful arts-based activity/performance — which can be one-time or a series — does not need to include all of these goals, but should include some.

  • Connect people of all backgrounds and involve them in art and creativity
  • Add aspects of art and culture to existing events
  • Involve learning and story/knowledge sharing and gathering
  • Be family friendly/all ages, but not watered down or for kids only
  • Establish deeper social connections with and between the wide variety of citizens who utilize these public spaces
  • Strengthen relationships/develop programming with immigrants and refugees, underserved orlow-income residents, and the homeless population
  • Build and foster relationships with Downtown neighbors in the area
  • Be inexpensive to produce

These artist-led activities are focused on, but not limited to, Indianapolis City Market (222 E Market St), Garfield Park (2432 Conservatory Dr), and/or Lockerbie Marketplace (333 N Alabama St).

Artist Eligibility

  • Artists can be from all genres including performance, craft, etc.
  • Indianapolis-based artists are preferred, but it is not required.
  • Open to professional artists and students.
  • Open to artist teams, bands, solo performers, and solo artists. (teams will be paid at the higher rate for the team)
  • Artists who have experience interacting with community are encouraged to apply.
  • Open to all art mediums and practices.
  • 18 years or older, or with permission of a parent or guardian.

Proposal Requirements
Please submit (1) a statement of interest, (2) resume or short biography, (3) any audio or visual representations of your art practice, (4) a description of your proposed project/activity, and (5) a simple project budget to Elizabeth Nash at email hidden; JavaScript is required.

Proposals will be considered on a rolling basis (July through November of 2018). Spark staff will work with you to identify a specific time and space for your project, if accepted. Expect to receive a reply from Spark staff within five days. Communication will be via email.

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How To Get To Us During Construction

How To Get To Us During Construction

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Let’s celebrate transit

Let’s celebrate transit

IndyGo’s Red Line will run from UIndy north through downtown to Broad Ripple, connecting several neighborhoods, major employers and cultural institutions with frequent, comfortable rapid transit service. Throughout most of the day, buses will arrive every 10 minutes, and the Red Line will operate for 20 hours each day, seven days a week. Construction of stations and other improvements to streets, crosswalks, and sidewalks near the stations begins this summer. Check out the plans here.

As artists working with Transit Drives Indy and the Arts Council of Indianapolis — recipients of a Cultural Corridor Consortium grant through Transportation for America — our goals are to gather input, share information, test creative ideas, and bring people together at future Red Line stops in our southside neighborhoods.

We’re also hosting pop-up events at stops in our South Indianapolis neighborhoods. One happened on First Friday on May 4 at Southern and Shelby in partnership with the University of Indianapolis Social Practice Art graduate program. Details here. The second is an outdoor movie screening in partnership with Public House Cinema at Safeway at the Raymond stop area. We’ll be showing the transit-related animation “My Neighbor Totoro” after a short film of Evel Knievel jumping buses on his motorcycle. Two more pop-up events will follow at La Luz Del Mundo at Carson and Shelby just north of Troy on May 19 from 12-2 p.m. and June 23 at the University of Indianapolis near the Hanna stop.

Would you like to help us gather input? Please email email hidden; JavaScript is required your answers to these three questions below.

1. What do you know or believe about The Red Line?

2. What do you want to know, or what information should be shared more with people (maybe out in a public place) about The Red Line project — maybe even during construction?

3. What places should be highlighted within walking distance of station locations for neighbors and visitors? (In South Indianapolis, stations will be located along Shelby Street at Pleasant Run, Raymond, Southern, Troy and Hanna.

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From the Middle West to the Middle East

From the Middle West to the Middle East

It’s 11 p.m. and I’m walking on a palm-tree lined, landscaped path along the water. The air smells of jasmine and the ocean, one sometimes overpowering the other. Numerous boats made of wood and lined with lights, each one different playing club music, over ten skyscrapers lit with various colors, brighten and dim, seemingly moving with the music and waves of the sea.

People are picnicking and exercising. Children are playing at state of the art playground, bushes are pruned into green castle like shapes throughout the park. Workers are setting up temporary structures for an upcoming food festival. Couples, friends, families sit at cafes. And I overhear laughter, conversations full of words I don’t understand. I hold up my iPhone and snap a selfie, not sure if it should focus on the beauty of the city or the sea. And I am also struck by the fact that I’m standing by myself, a woman, alone in Doha, Qatar on the Persian Gulf walking the 4.29 mile long Corniche.

I was in 7th grade when the Persian Gulf War started. I didn’t understand it. I had two uncles going to serve. When they came back, they met my questions with silence and a long stare making it clear, there are some things you don’t ask or speak about.

And being a woman, watching and reading all the various news sources over the years, I was sure I’d be uncomfortable and feel judged by the public being a western woman. I thought of the entire region as a dangerous. I came to Doha with certain ideas, certain expectations. None were true. Except for the one that led me to go in the first place. This is, that despite our differences, people are — overall — innately good and we all want the same things.

Over the next several days I worked with Isabelle St. Louis and her team on the Mari Evans: Carl Pope exhibition. I met and talked with Virginia Commonwealth University Qatar students, alumni, faculty, artists, expats, my driver who took me every morning from the hotel to the university, and an Egyptian vendor at the Souq Waqif.

I didn’t do much sightseeing in other places because I wanted to know the city as much as I could. There are over 2.69 million versions of Doha, all known by the people living there. Over the next few days, I’ll write bits about the people I met.

Shauta Marsh

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Tube exports exhibit to Qatar

Tube exports exhibit to Qatar

Big Car-commissioned collaboration Carl Pope: Mari Evans opens this week in Qatar

Indianapolis — Big Car Collaborative is sharing the work of Indianapolis artists on the world stage as an exhibit commissioned and co-curated by the nonprofit arts organization travels to Qatar this week. The exhibit — inspired by and co-created with Indianapolis poet Mari Evans — will be on display at the Virginia Commonwealth University campus in Doha starting March 16.

Carl Pope: Mari Evans, which opened at Tube Factory artspace in 2016, honors the life and legacy of Evans — an Indianapolis-based poet, writer, and artist. She died just over a year ago at age 97. Shauta Marsh, director of programs and exhibitions at Tube Factory, worked with Indianapolis-based artist Carl Pope and Evans herself to curate the multifaceted exhibit.

Virginia Commonwealth University brought Marsh to Qatar to attend the opening, share with students and others about the work and tour Doha, a city known for its focus on art. “I’m excited that Mari’s legacy continues,” says Tube Factory artspace Director of Programming and exhibitons. “I am especially thankful to Carl Pope whose work and application of Mari’s ideas in his work, and that of Carl’s twin sister, Karen Pope‘s writing, translates so well to an international audience. Few artists can do that.”

Big Car Collaborative designer Andy Fry collaborated with Pope on the wall-sized text pieces related to Evans’s book of essays, Clarity as Concept: A Poet’s Perspective. The exhibit also features photographs highlighting the history of black culture in Indianapolis, portraits of Evans, and video from The Black Experience television program produced by Evans in the 1970s. 

Evans, one of the founders of the Black Arts Movement and longtime Indianapolis resident, published her first work “Where Is All the Music” in 1968 followed by “I Am a Black Woman” in 1970. During this time, Evans also worked as a producer, writer, and director of “The Black Experience” (1968-1973) — a history documentary that aired on prime time in Indianapolis.
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Thanks for helping us meet our CreatINg Places match!

Thanks for helping us meet our CreatINg Places match!

We want to thank our individual donors who helped us with a successful campaign this fall to raise funds matched by the IHCDA CreatINg Places program with the State of Indiana. This campaign — which brought in $50,000 from donors matched by $50,000 from IHCDA — is supporting improvements underway to Tube, Listen Hear, and our artist residency house and grounds. Many donated anonymously and we aren’t listing their names.

The Netherliegh Fund, Diana Mutz and Howard Schrott, Impact 100 Justin Stuehrenberg, Emily Scott, Dan Elliott and Stef Krevda, Jacquelyn Nolen, Thomas Battista, Sheri Hacker, Kipp Normand, Edmund Mahern, Robin Hedge, Mary Sauer, Alex Toumey, Jeb Banner, Emily Watson, Lynn Hammond, Andrew Quinn, Jole Kelley, Amber Ross, Ann W. King, Taylor Martin, Brenda Barker, Connie Christofanelli, Joel Hammond, Jill Willey, Becky and Ken Honeywell, Mark Nagle, Gloria Mallah, Stephen Williams, Laura Dahlem, Andrea Liebross, Ashley Brooks, Lynné Colbert, Gina Rakers, Lauren Ditchley, Frank Sauer, Julia Whitehead, Russell Clemens, Susan Haber, Sarah Powers, Neil Ahrendt, Perry and Michelle Griffith, Andrew Howard, Marilyn Gatin, Geoffrey Lapin, Holly and Matt Sommers, Stanley Kiwor, David Yosha, JD Schuyler, Murphy Mahaffey, Tracy Wolfe, Anne Laker, Eric and Katie Williams, Ben and Connie Berg, Kelly Brown, Matt Krack, Katie Carlson, Ursula David, Aryn & Nick Schounce/Zuckerman, Mary Jane Mahern, The RoundUps, Megan Briscoe Fernandez, Jane Alexander, neighbors and friends from our fundraiser (85 patrons), Anthony Mahern, Rok Cerne, Robert Peoni, Amy Peddycord, Sun King, Katie Robinson, Sharon Adams, Donna Jacobsen, Jon Rangel, Marc Allan, Rose Shingledecker, Peggy Herrod, Scott Hall, Abraham Martinez, Jen Peden, Chad Duran, Jim & Linda Simmons, Jordan Updike, Jeremy Shubrook, Shauta Marsh and Jim Walker.

Learn more about this ongoing work here:

Garfield Park Creative Community — an overview 2017 from Big Car Collaborative on Vimeo.