An Alphabet of Culture and Community

ABCAs part of the third biennial Pave symposium: Entrepreneurship, the Arts, and Creative Placemaking held April 12-13, the Phoenix chapter of Emerging Arts Leaders facilitated a workshop on connecting arts to communities in the Phoenix metro area (or “The Valley” as we sometimes call it).  For part of the workshop, the team distributed paper around the space, each with a single letter of the alphabet and asked people to write a single word on as many as possible that related to the theme of culture and community – either in support of strengthening communities through arts and culture or hindrances to doing so in the region.  This was the last session of the symposium, so attendance had dwindled to about 25 students, community artists, and other presenters and attendees.  I share with you here, without editing, the results of that exercise, an alphabet of culture and community:

A – altruism, acceptance, arguments, assumptions, ageism

B – Borderlands, beliefs, bustle, big business, bored, burdens (v. opportunity)

C – centralization, consciousness, church, city limits, catalyst, children, cooking, complications, Cannibalist Manifesto

D – deep listening, development, design, death, de-colonial aesthetics, dialect, dependence, distance

E – equity, enduring, engaging, educating, entitlement, expectation, emptiness

F – friend-building, fellowship, “fine” arts, food (2), fear (2), famish, family, fairness, freedom, filling empty seats

G – gender, growth, gardens, gentrification, God?, giving, graffiti, generosity

H – hunger, history, hope, housing, humanity, happiness, homophobia, heroes, heat (2), home, help, health

I – intergenerational ageism, international relations, independence, interdependence, impact, interaction, innovation, isolation(ism), immigration, I can’t hear well

J – justice, Judaism, joy, jam sessions, judgment [this last with a line through it]

K – knowledge, keep, kindle, kindness, kin

L – language, listening, love, love ≠violence, leaders, laughter, lifting, lifecycle events, learning, laughter

M – men, mobility, meaning, music (2), mastery, mystery, money, matching, magical, mindful

N – nice, nuance, neo-colonialism, no one comes, nodes, numb, numbers, narcissism

O – opportunity, organize, oppression, otherness, optimism, organizations, openness, open-minded.

P – perspective, people, pluralistic, pollution, population, privilege, places

Q – questions, quiet, quandary

R – reactive, religion, relationships, race, research, radio, respect, re-invent, reaction

S – space, skeptical, sustainability, storytime, sprawl, suburbia, spatial, separate, stigma, simplicity

T – transportation, time together, theory, trial, tangible, transition, traffic, turmoil, time

U – underrepresentation, underdeveloped, underserved, Umbanda, useful, union, unity, urban

V – vandalism, validation, venture

W – water – lots of it, work, wisdom (who has it?) women, willing, world-view, willingness

X – xenophobia

Y – yarn, yearn, youth

X – zoos

The group discussion that followed focused, in large part, on “sprawl,” how sprawl is a hindrance to “equity,” and how equity is a preequisite for healthy commmunities.  (For more from me on equity and the arts see “Diversity, Equality, Bus Lanes, and Arts.”)  There was also some discussion of food as both a carrier of culture across generations (intergenerationalism was a bit of a throughline as well) and a friendly, non-threatening way to introduce new cultures into communities.

In the next week or two, I’ll be publishing more outputs of the symposium.  You can watch video of the proceedings on the newplay channel.

About lindaessig

Linda Essig is Dean of the College of Arts & Letters at Cal State LA and principal/owner of Creative Infrastructure LLC. The opinions expressed on creativeinfrastructure are her own and not those of Cal State LA. You can follow her on twitter @LindaInPhoenix.
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1 Response to An Alphabet of Culture and Community

  1. Pingback: Sticky Madness | Creative Infrastructure

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