Creating Place: Context, Connection, Equity

By: Nicole Gurgel-Seefeldt | April 25, 2018

What you have before you is a multimedia collection of explorations, reflections, challenges, and offerings to the national dialogue around creative placemaking, created by ROOTS members – multidisciplinary artists and cultural organizers who live across (and some, beyond) the US South. In it you’ll get a taste of the articles, podcasts, and films, and find links to where they live in their fullness over on the ROOTS website.

Throughout the 18 months of developing this project, we’ve been guided by three touchstones: context, connection, and equity. At ROOTS it’s important that we acknowledge our lineages, those who blazed the trail that we now further. Creative placemaking is a ten year old term that has transformed our field, but the practices it encompasses are ancient. What we now call the arts have always been at the center of community life, interwoven with all the practices developed to meet the physical, social, spiritual needs of a people. We as ROOTS have been at this for 42 years – we’re proud of our history and also recognize our place in a long line of cultural workers seeking to make a better world with their communities.

Within the national dialogue on creative placemaking, we are dedicated to uplifting the more ineffable aspects of this work – human to human connection, the alchemical sense of shared humanity that art can inspire in us, and that inspires our artmaking. Within the creative placemaking framework, there can be a tendency to privilege economics and infrastructures over community connection; neither need be in conflict – they are best when working together.

Community power, unimagined possibilities, and collective brilliance arise when we honor and make space for everyone’s full selves to arrive, to be seen and valued.

Finally, but always foremost, is equity. Alternate ROOTS’ mission calls for social and economic justice and the dismantling of all forms of oppression, everywhere. It’s a bold vision, and throughout this collection you’ll see our members living it out, on the ground, in their home communities, in creative and committed ways. Please know, and take hope in knowing: this collection represents only a small fraction of ROOTS members. For every artist, project, organization featured here, there are scores more ROOTers hard at work in their communities, cultivating the power of the arts to create social change.

We offer much gratitude to all the contributors, the content development team, ROOTS staff, and the NEA Our Town program who’ve all played an essential part in bringing Creating Place out into the world. We lovingly acknowledge everyone who’s been a part of ROOTS’ 42 years, who has helped to weave a community of creativity and accountability, of generosity and challenge, where work like this can flourish. And we look towards the better world we are working to create, together.

Nicole Gurgel-Seefeldt
Creating Place Curator & Project Manager
Manager of Communications Strategy, Alternate ROOTS

Alternate ROOTS supports the creation and presentation of original art that is rooted in communities of place, tradition or spirit. We are a group of artists and cultural organizers based in the South creating a better world together. As Alternate ROOTS, we call for social and economic justice and are working to dismantle all forms of oppression—everywhere.