CASE STUDY 5
Open Signal, formerly Portland Community Media, is located in Portland, Oregon. As Open Signal dreamed of transforming its facility to serve the community in more meaningful ways, Teresa created a plan to address the organization’s pressing questions. This capstone served as part of the requirement for the Certificate in Creative Placemaking from the New England College Institute of Art and Design and the National Consortium for Creative Placemaking.
CHALLENGE Due to Portland’s history of systemic racist practices that severely eroded infrastructure and opportunity in traditionally African American neighborhoods, such as Eliot, the residents from this neighborhood have not typically been the beneficiary of cultural assets. This capstone aims to address this inequity and offer a creative placemaking plan for Open Signal that will better serve the neighborhood. This project offers a pathway to give back to Eliot residents and to add improved cultural assets, artistic opportunities, and housing to the diminishing inventory in Portland.
RECOMMENDATIONS The study began by examining baseline data that sets the stage for the project, including an overview of Portland’s history and culture, shifting demographics and economics from the past ten years, an inventory of cultural spaces, the political environment that poses opportunities for development, and key fulcrum issues regarding the effects of gentrification that have impacted the Eliot neighborhood. Key recommendations included developing a new 300 seat venue, arts incubation programming, and affordable housing for artists as ways to meet these pressing issues for the Eliot community. Set forth in this plan is a path for realizing these goals through the stewardship of a working group of community members, and a process to engage the community to learn more about their needs and to test assumptions. It offered new programs to activate the campus while utilizing arts programs and festivals toward transformational community healing, complete with an evaluation plan to measure the extent to which these programs at Open Signal meet the needs of the community in the many years to come.