Democracy has gotten more creative. This election season, not only can pick your politician, but now you can pick your art too. Thanks to Collinwood's The Ballot Box Project, residents of Ward 8 have a say in what art lines the streets and fills establishments. It's the first participatory budgeting effort in Ohio, which means residents decide where neighborhood funds go. The funds in question are $120,000 from ArtPlace, a collaboration of foundations working to make arts and culture a core concept of community planning and development, for arts placemaking in Collinwood.
Citizens chose the community issues the art projects should address: Collinwood history, vacancy, healthy eating, and youth engagement. Thirty-four artists have worked on proposals on the topics and now, from March 4-9, members of the community can vote on the projects at various locations. A minimum of eight artists will be awarded: the project with the most votes from each category plus the next four highest voted projects. If there is enough money for an additional project there could potentially be a ninth award. The winners will be announced March 17, and projects will be implemented over the rest of this year. Before you hit the polls, here is a sample of ideas you'll see on your ballot.
Collinwood History: Residents want the history of the neighborhood to be remembered. Comedian Timothy Cornett proposes a monthly podcast, recorded live at the Beachland Ballroom & Tavern , that will relay stories of Collinwood’s rich history. “I am taking residents’ personal stories and putting them in podcast form for free,” he says. “We will have local artists and musicians texturing the storytelling to make it entertaining.”
Cornett would like to see the history of Waterloo recorded in a podcast at the Beachland Ballroom & Tavern.
Vacancy: “I live on a block of two or three vacant houses,” says artist Jessica Pinsky, executive director of Praxis Fiber Studio in the Waterloo Arts District. “I thought the Ballot Box Project would be a great opportunity to do something to beautify and unify the neighborhood while drawing attention and awareness on vacancy.” Pinsky is proposing hanging peace flags throughout the neighborhood. Community members, with thickened dye, can write or draw on the flags before taking a large squeegee and blending the colors together. The flags will hang throughout Collinwood’s vacant lots and homes.
Examples of peace flags painted at Praxis Fiber Studio in the Waterloo Arts District
Healthy Eating: Kevin Scheuring, market manager of Coit Road Farmers Market, hopes to engage the community with area chefs to produce free food shows and inspire more people to be home chefs. “One of our primary challenges is getting people to cook so our farmers can actually sell the fruits and vegetables they grow,” he says. The goal of this project is to have a food show with vendors and farmers, and add an educational component of teaching basic cooking techniques such as sauteing or knife handling.
Free cooking class sponsored by Coit Road Farmers Market
Youth Engagement: When Bridget Caswell picked up her first camera at the age of 15, she knew she found her passion. The photographer is proposing to create Collinwood Camera Club, an after-school club that will bring in high school students from around the region and teach them about photography. “We would have a studio, and professionals could help teach students do things like photo essays," she says. Caswell hopes students will be able to share their community stories through the lens of a camera.
Photograph by Bridget Caswell