Engage: Creative Disruption

The Community Arts Special Topics Seminar addresses issues of immediate concern in a specific community in the greater Bay area. Students gain intimate knowledge of various strategies for working with a specific organization and the ability to navigate through the problems and dilemmas that those organizations face.

When people think of innovative urban projects happening in the Bay Area, their minds often gravitate first to San Francisco. From parklets to proxy, there is a creative resurgence happening there. Far less known, but equally powerful, are a collection community driven projects happening throughout Oakland. From Old Oakland to Uptown to West Oakland, community residents, artists and businessmen are coming together to re-imagine and articulate a more vibrant, diverse, and creative reality than the one people traditionally associate with the city. One of the leading projects in this effort is popuphood. Started in 2011, by creative entrepreneurs Sarah Filley and Alfonso Dominguez, popuphood is a small business incubator revitalizing neighborhoods block by block. In Old Oakland, it curates independent retailers and other small business in previously vacant storefronts. It has been highly successful as a pilot, publicized widely, spoken about at international conferences, and most recently, featured in the US pavilion at the Venice Biennale. Now popuphood is ready to elevate its efforts to the next level with a 15 block district along Telegraph Avenue. Through field and secondary research as well as tactical projects, this class will work together with popuphood to understand, conceptualize, and articulate: 1)How might we define the identity of a diverse and evolving community? 2)How might we make that identity visible within and outside of the community? 3)How might we use that visibility as a platform for community cohesion and growth? 4)How might we create stronger links between various creative community-based efforts? 5)How might we turn acts of temporary creative renewal into lasting infrastructure? This class will be research and project-based with a human-centered design focus. We'll be strongly immersing ourselves within the surrounding community and networking with a variety of groups. We're looking for people with diverse perspectives and skills willing to think outside of the box, work across disciplinary boundaries, and get their hands dirty.