BEGIN TRANSMISSION #IMAGININGPHX
— Kara Roschi, Founding Cultural Agent
Greetings, Dreamers and Doers, Citizen Artists, Deputy Agents, and other Magic Makers!
On Saturday, June 28th, 2014, at the behest of the United States Department of Arts & Culture, USDAC Cultural Agents in the Phoenix area hosted an IMAGINING as one of 17 locales across the country that invited citizens to envision their neighborhoods in 2034, a time when art's transformative power has been fully integrated into all aspects of public life. There have been IMAGININGS in both metro and rural communities from the California Bay Area to NYC. And there's more to come.
So, what happened at #IMAGININGPHX? The crowd in attendance, approximately 50 folks, made known their greatest hope for what the world around them looks like twenty years hence. It looked a little like this:
It sounded like Bryn Corbett's "#1: 'endless' "— a surround sound installation in the atrium of downtown's Grant Street Studios consisting of 16 independent audio loops interacting with each other in endless ways to collectively produce an evolving ecosystem of sound. It also sounded like the exquisite-corpse-style, improvised story that was drawn out of the group one sentence at a time by local performer Rico Pagliuca. It sounded like the spoken word poetry of Melissa Dunmore, Jared Duran, Jake Friedman, and Nicole Underwood. But most of all, it sounded like discussion—the exchange of perspectives, ideas, and local knowledge.
It tasted like local fare: regional plants—cactus, cilantro, and jackfruit simmered up into a barbacoa—for filling mini corn tortillas, all provided by Bragg's Factory Diner, a locally-owned, vegan eatery just down the way from Grant Street Studios.
But much of this initial brainstorming session became about what this shared space felt like. And while much of that feeling came from what was there and present: the sense of possible networks, connections, and collaborations; the desire for MORE opportunities to share ideas, to dig deeper, to take action; the heartening recognition of shared aspirations; much also came from what was not there. It felt a little stiff; where was the movement, the dance?! It felt a little homogenous—to quote attendee Linda Essig, "Is Everyone in the Room?" and if not, how do we craft our invites and promotions to better convey the necessity for disparate voices and perspectives? And it felt a little superficial—when and where will there be an opportunity to really delve into the issues raised at this general 'lay of the land' info session?
Well, we have some ideas, but we'll need a lot more help. As it stands, there are many acknowledgements and much gratitude that must be sung out from the virtual rooftops here to thank those who have begun to lay the local foundation for this movement by crafting this first IMAGINING event and already projecting future USDAC-PHX endeavors.