The Imaginings Continue; Dispatches From the Field

Over the past two weeks, we've been Imagining.

Out west in Tucson, Arizona, one was led by Cultural Agent Michael Schwartz.

“We are moving into the ‘we’ paradigm,” he said of undertakings like USDAC. “People are learning to share and it’s changing the economy” [via Arizona Daily Star].

Much like Lynden Harris and her Imagining in Carrboro, his journey is focused on drawing together his constituents based on this principle of 'we.' What ideas we can fashion, what plans we can draw up, and most importantly, how we—artists, businessmen, students, all creative citizens—can do it together.

Schwartz said his Imagining is a chance to “creatively engage our neighbors, fellow artists and community leaders” to come up with ideas to address everything from the lack of arts education in public schools to jobs and the economy [via Arizona Daily Star].

In Phoenix, Cultural Agent Kara Roschi infused her Imagining with the same spirit.

"This is not your typical performance, art opening, music recital or town meeting," said Roschi in a press release issued on June 8. "We're looking forward to a lively, creative gathering of community members envisioning the year 2034, when art's power to engage, connect, uplift and transform has been woven into all aspects of our hometown" [via Phoenix NewTimes].

And her hometown, Phoenix, a burgeoning site of art, fashion, and culture, is the perfect locus to try her hypothesis out.

But how are the Imaginings planning on moving beyond the gathering of ideas?

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Kansas-based artist and Cultural Agent Dave Lowenstein, who went to Waco, Texas last year to help create the East Waco mural on Elm Street, says the mural he created with the help of scores of local volunteers hints at how effective this enterprise [the enterprise of coming together and completing a unified vision] can be, but at this stage it remains an all too “rare example" of this kind of community-driven creative work [via Waco Tribunal]. 

But, still, an example of how an idea flourished into a tangible project.

His Imagining, based in his hometown of Lawrence, Kansas, centered on building similar kinds of ideas that had tangible corollaries. At one corner table, Kate Dinneen helped her eight-member team summarize their findings. A strengthened urban core, environmentally friendly transportation and a "more holistic" approach to education were among the concepts envisioned during their hour-long brainstorming session [via LJWorld].

South in San Antonio at the Southwest Workers Union, Cultural Agent, dancer, educator, artist, and activist Fabiola Torralba hosted her Imagining. Drawing upon her rich and dense network of local artists, her session was hosted in conjunction with Mujeres Mercado: La Cultura Cura, which celebrates the work of female artisans and traditional healers [via Facebook].

What remains to be seen is how the Cultural Agents will use the rich conversation bourne of these pilot Imaginings to further action in their communities.

In Kansas, Dave Lowenstein captured the spirit of the endeavor: “We’re hoping to create new relationships and new networks within our own community but also nationwide...What comes of it is up to us" [via LJWorld].