Using Art And Design To Shift How We Perceive Our Neighborhoods

10.07.16 3 weeks ago

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Last month we shared the story of of Pow! Wow! — Long Beach, Calif.’s street art festival. We’ve also highlighted the work of traveling art collective Boa Mistura and other engaged artists hoping to enhance the vibrance of long-neglected neighborhoods. The point is plain: we believe in the transformative power of art.

Today, Uproxx Reports dives deep into the work of LA Más — a non-profit urban design collective hoping to make rundown neighborhoods more beautiful, without gentrifying them.

“We really believe in minimizing displacement,” says Helen Leung, co-director of LA Más. “We want the people who have lived in these neighborhoods for a long time to be able to benefit from these changes.”

The team at LA Más adds design elements to city streets in order to make them feel more dynamic. The results are clear, when people get excited about how their neighborhoods look, they invest themselves more fully. Shop owners, pedestrians, and city officials all feel more engaged, and the neighborhoods get more attention. But are these changes sustainable?

“We’ve found that it ends up being resilient over time,” Leung says, “because a lot of community members love what we’ve done and they maintain it much longer than we would have anticipated.”

Community leader Don Larson sums it up quite simply, “The effect on the community has been a complete 180.” As we’ve said before, the power of art should never be doubted.

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