The Creatives in Community (CIC) program was developed as a way to not just generate community projects, but equip our neighbors to design and implement those projects themselves. Creatives in Community is a neighborhood focused placemaking education and residency program focused on asset based community development that centers sustainable resident led change.
In 2018, the South of Downtown Community Development Organization (SDCDO) opened the South of Downtown Art Hub and began to explore the intersection between art and community development. Since the beginning of SDCDO’s arts and placemaking programming, we have prioritized working with neighborhood creatives to instruct and inform our workshops. Working directly with artists who lived in the neighborhood for not just one workshop but for a series of workshops and projects over the course of the year generated more meaningful relationships, successful programs, and better attendance and impacts than what we were seeing in one-off experiences.
Investing in instructors who reflect the neighborhood meant we could offer bilingual, virtual, intergenerational, and culturally specific programs that inherently reached the audiences that would be served by them, because they were being instructed by those same individuals. Speaking as a neighbor myself, it is clear to me, that we free us: it is SDCDO’s commitment to this ideal that makes all our work not only possible but vital.
Using Collective Impact Lincoln’s Community Builder Workshop structure, Asset Based Community Development values and the content of the Spring Board for the Arts Irrigate Curriculum, we decided to stop investing in our good ideas and start investing in our neighbors', leading to the Creatives in Community Program co-hosted by LUX Center for the Arts and funded by the Lincoln Arts Council and Southeast Community College.
In our first CIC placemaking workshop we had more than 20 Lincoln neighbors come to the LUX for a day-long workshop unpacking what creative placemaking is, how it can serve the community, who organizes it and how they could collaborate on their own projects. From our 2021 CIC workshop cohort, there were around a dozen neighbors who applied for the LUX and SDCDO’s residency program, which pays neighbors a monthly stipend to organize projects and an hourly rate to run workshops of their own design.
Through this process, the SDCDO Creative Programs Committee, a group of artists, teachers and neighbors selected the 2021 CIC residents and projects. We are so excited to announce our first resident Creative, Karla Hernandez Torrijos. The Bike Party LNK was also selected for project funds for the 2021 - 2022 project year, and the LUX Center for the Arts has taken on Artie Mack as their University Place Creative.
Karla Hernandez Torrijos (she/her), 2021 - 2022 Creative in Community resident
Karla (she/her) is a poet and workshop facilitator. A two-time alum of The Heart of It Writing Retreat and a finalist for Pink Door, her work interrogates our understanding of home, displacement, and the liminal space in-between. Karla has been invited to read in venues across Nebraska, including The Bay, El Museo Latino, and The UNL Wick Alumni Center. Her work can be found in Preposition: An Undercurrent Anthology.
Drawing inspiration from the poetry paths of New York to the O’ Miami Poetry Festival, Karla created this proposal with one question in mind: Who is allowed to tell the stories that shape our reality? As the daughter of immigrants, she understands firsthand the power of language and of rhetoric. Her proposal reimagines the poetry reading as a shared space, the writing workshop as a safe harbor from a world that would rather wield weapons than words.
It is a rejection of the false premise that only some people are artists, poets. By confronting the reality of access and gatekeeping head-on, she will hold “pop-up poetics”, spontaneous readings and performances, in the spaces the community needs most: food distribution centers, mental health clinics, and legal assistance offices.
In this moment of collective grief and hardship, the project aims to reintroduce beauty and community to places people may be experiencing shame. It is the rewriting of stereotypes into stories, this time told for us and by us.
Bike Party LNK, 2021- 2022 Creative in Community project
Bike Party LNK is the brainchild of our neighbors and bike enthusiasts Adria Chilcote and Anna Graff who started Bike Party LNK as a way to create community around biking in a fun way with music, snack stops, a predetermined route and maybe a hot safety tip here or there. This is a great way to get active, meet some folks and learn some of the awesome trails we have in Lincoln. The Bike Party is every 4th Friday of the month starting at a new location. Learn more at bikepartylnk.org. This program was developed with support of the Creatives in Community Placemaking workhops that happened this summer.