ULI Atlanta Blog

Community building through art

by Sarah Butler

It’s well known that Georgia ranks low on education, so it probably shouldn’t have been a surprise to hear that Georgia is also at the bottom for arts funding.  Living on the southeast side of town, and working downtown, I took it for granted that “Art” is a part of the everyday environment, because it’s visually evident.

Yet, I do remember moving to Atlanta twelve years ago, and wondering how to find the art scene.

It is here.  It isn’t limited to static art museums or traditional musical performances. It’s our living walls, streets, people, and neighborhoods.

My classmates and I asked: how do we find it? how do we direct it? how do we build with art in mind, when so frequently the bottom line is economic?

IMG_6612Listening to Neda Abghari, Alex Acosta, Nancy Harris, and Chris Appleton talk about the positive results (the visual, social, and measureable, sustainable economic results) their organizations are achieving, as well as Joe Bankoff’s hypothesis that Midtown’s growth hinged on the creation of the Woodruff Arts Center in the 60s, it provides an answer to the question of the economic viability of art as integral to a project’s vision.

I responded to the idea of community as it was presented:  not in terms of place-making, but place-keeping. Not in terms of community building, but revitalization.  Development tends to be driven by economy, and it is rare in these times to have the luxury of a virgin site without some community already there. Chris Appleton’s call for responsible building captures these ideas of utilizing talent, creativity, and investment that already exists in our neighborhoods.  As both Camille Love and Neda noted, when the existing neighbors are involved in the creative efforts, those efforts are protected by their pride.  As in the case of Duluth, the City and its residents identified the qualities they already felt in the community, and are using those to capitalize on public expressions of art.

Our class saw the passion and happiness from those calling for the urgent need for arts awareness. We practiced pitching our ideas for arts-centered development plans to a tough mock community council board, to see what we would be up against when we take this message to the real estate community.

The second aspect of Day 4’s program was Martin Freedland’s presentation on the style and qualities of a great leader.  In addition to being inspirational, making others feel important, having clear objectives and goals (to name a few), a great leader has to have buy-in from the one thing all great leaders have in common: the followers.  Martin’s recommendation is to use, develop, and exploit your own personal traits to effectively lead your team. You don’t need to fake it, because as he demonstrated with the four types of leadership styles, there is a place for all types of leaders.

Thank you to our Day Chairs, Odetta MacLeish-White, Program Director at Enterprise Community Partners, and Beth Malone, Executive Director of Dashboard, for bringing together a day of positive and creative energy.

Sarah Butler works at Praxis3 Architects and is a member of the Center for Leadership Class of 2016.
This entry was posted in Center For Leadership. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *