Storefront for Community Design wants you to be their neighbor.
Storefront for Community Design wants you to be their neighbor. Well at least, that’s the message the local design and community development non-profit wanted to convey June 5 at First Friday’s Art Walk with a preview of its “Neighbors”-themed conference for the Association for Community Design’s upcoming annual conference.
Storefront is part of the larger Association for Community Design that holds the yearly conference for Community Design professionals and organization’s staff to gather to share skills, strategies, and stories.
Last year, Storefront attended the conference in Detroit and decided to submit a proposal to host the 2015 conference. Their “Neighbors” theme was chosen, putting them on track to host the conference June 25-27.
The conference aims to connect architects, designers and city planners to the national community of urban developers. Friday’s preview presented clips of the type of work being done across the country in the arena of community design and development.
Storefront Program Director Tyler King came up with the idea to present the information on posters hanging from a huge fence built in their office space at 205 E Broad. Participants wanting to read one of the posters would have to pull it down to eye level. Doing so caused the attached poster on the other side of the fence to be pulled up out of the sight.
“That’s sort of the extended metaphor of talking about a neighbor over the fence,” said Development and Outreach Associate Manon Loustaunau. “I think it was a really successful way to show this preview because it forces you to interact with it in a way that you would with a neighbor.”
Loustaunau got involved with Storefront through her time at Middle of Broad (mOb), which is a partnership Storefront has with VCU’s School of the Arts.
mOb lets students participate in design projects across the city concerning issues like public housing and land use. Loustaunau said the program is unique because it is student led and faculty serves mostly as mentors.
Recent VCU graduate and mOb student Gavin Foster is co-director of mOb TV. Foster talked about the broadcast he is working on to cover Storefront’s conference. The aim is to translate the coverage of local happenings into a television show format, which includes QVC style programming about a variety of events and important locations that weekend.
“We were interested in providing some type of coverage so people who can’t necessarily be at all the lectures or be here in Richmond for the conference can still access some of the information and get a feel for what’s happening here,” Foster said.
This coverage is an advantage to urban planning student Frederike Rode, who is visiting Richmond from Germany to do research for her bachelor’s thesis. Rode studied at VCU a year ago through a partnership with her university.
Her interest in American public housing and community outreach has to do partly with American community engagement, which is more extensive in the private sphere than Germany because public institutions in America do not tackle many of these public issues. She said seeing the approaches of creative cities like Richmond is interesting and relevant to her research.
Rode said she appreciated the interactive element of the display, as well as the snapshot of work being done across the country.
“I’ve noticed that there are quite a lot of universities working together with communities,” she said. “Which I find very important because they’re supposed to be public institutions reaching out to educate neighbors, people, communities about what they actually can do to change their living environment.”
For more information about the Association for Community Design conference hosted by Storefront, check out the ACD’s website.