Arts and Culture

Arts and culture have always been part of successful community work, fostering social cohesion, engagement, and dialogue, but there’s a lot to learn about the many ways they can be employed and partnerships that are out there to be formed.

A building in East Oakland with colorful murals painted on the wall. A graffitied fence is to the right of the building.

Urban Art or Graffiti Vandalism?

Review of Stations of the Elevated, by Manfred Kirchheimer, 1981.

Gentrification Was the Killer in Oakland Fire

It’s usually hard to distinguish a victim of gentrification. Many people have a story of getting priced out of their neighborhoods, of being looked...

Using Theater to Envision Racial Equity Solutions

Techniques from the arts world can help us envision and re-envision relationships and systems to spot stress points and opportunities within communities.
mural artist

Arts Build Community

CDCs now recognize that art and cultural activities can be useful tools toward building a community's identity, meaning, and spirit. But bank regulators have not yet reached a sufficient level of comfort with this new strategy.
A sprawling white “hipster” is memorialized against a backdrop of romanticized visions of blight in a mural that dominates an intersection in the historically Black 7th Ward in New Orleans.

The Cultural Ramifications of Gentrification in New Orleans

Gentrification is not just physical displacement; it’s cultural appropriation across entire neighborhoods. Artists have an obligation not to participate.
Artists_COVID sign

A Letter from A Starving Artist

To my fellow artists? Just please, PLEASE, stick around on the planet. I know. It’s getting tougher. For me too. You’re not alone.

Affordable Housing and . . . a Museum in Harlem

For over 30 years, Broadway Housing Communities has developed its own formula for meeting the housing needs of West Harlem's lowest-income residents. One of its unorthodox ingredients has been art galleries, and now, there's a children's museum in its newest building.
tents and tarps on a lot

Shelter Shorts—The Week in Community Development, April 6

Gentrification Is Bad For One's Health | Housing Teachers-At School | Protecting Space for Local Business | TOD Doesn't Have to Displace | Community Artists Win in Court | More . . .
A smiling African-American man in a baseball cap sits at a table in a social lounge type room with other people in the background.

Keeping Seniors Healthy by Fostering Connections and Community

For high needs seniors with chronic illnesses, health is not merely—or even mostly—a matter for medical professionals.

Not All Artists Are Young. Or Childless.

On Dec. 3, the Ghost Ship fire in Oakland became the deadliest in the city’s history, claiming the lives of 36 individuals. The warehouse...
Kids stand in front of a mural in Thomas, West Virginia.

An Antidote to the Negativity Surrounding Rural America

With all the news of downward trends in rural America, this rural sociologist says he finally has something to smile about.
Kresge president Rip Rapson

Interview with Rip Rapson, president and CEO of the Kresge Foundation

If you look at what Rip Rapson has accomplished and the insight he brings to his current work, you'll get a much better picture of who he is and the challenging work he spearheads at the Kresge Foundation.
Patrons looking at gallery wall.

If We Want the Arts in Baltimore, We Need Its Artists

Artists have left their mark on Station North and paved the way for an arts district, but the organically-developed communal live/work spaces that play such a vital role in helping make Baltimore an arts mecca are an endangered species.
A woman wearing a white shirt and pants smiles outside as she listens to music from her headphones.

New Visions of Justice Through the Camera Lens

An experimental learning opportunity allows formerly incarcerated individuals to use photography to explore ideas of freedom, complex relationships, and their personal experience with the criminal justice system.

Poem: “Tires Stacked in the Hallways of Civilization”

Yes, Your Honor, there are rodents, said the landlord to the judge, but I let the tenant have a cat. Besides, he stacks his tires in the hallway.
burlap with screenprinted words

The $9 Jar of Artisanal Pickles: Equity and Local Food

Sustainability is about thriving, not just surviving. We will not thrive if we are poorly paid martyrs to a good cause, and thus, in a healthy, diverse and vital food system, some of our efforts might need to be directed to those who can pay nine dollars for a jar of pickles.

Interview with Richard Baron, CEO of McCormack Baron Salazar

It still surprises many people that Richard Baron, the CEO of one of the largest for-profit affordable housing developers, got his start in the field supporting public housing tenants in a rent strike.

A Community Planning Process–Even A Good One–Is Not Enough

Just the inherent language of community “transformation” signals that what has come before is not worth holding on to, and renders the history of these public housing sites insignificant.
Native women tan hide outside as part of a program called Indigenous Visionaries

The Next Generation of Indigenous Knowledge Keepers

A tribal college program works to preserve crucial Native American cultural elements while training indigenous women to step into leadership roles in their communities.

The Catalyzing Power of Art

Art can be an economic engine for neighborhoods, but sometimes locally-based artists need some support to kick their businesses into gear, and community-based organizations are stepping up.