Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Community Building Tip: Cultural Enrichment

For my current set of tips, I've decided to use the one I wrote based on how to make your hometown more like Bluehill in Terramagne-America. I took a close look at the town's positive features with an eye toward replicating them here with local resources.

* Cultural enrichment. Opportunities for fun things to do are everywhere. There are several big centers of activity with different flavors, like the YMCA and community center. Smaller things are scattered throughout, like the Little Free Libraries and Free Seeds Library. Creativity is fully integrated into society, everywhere from the artistic metalwork of the bike racks to the Real Live Writers. Watch for art fairs or buskers to support, encourage local businesses to hang art by local artists instead of mass-produced posters, and support venues that host events. Anyone can start a mini-library.

Know how to find cultural activities in your area. These apps guide you to local events and attractions. Here is a national calendar for the arts. States and cities often have their own event calendars, so search for those in your area.

Celebrate Appreciate Diversity Month from August 15-September 15. Here is a diversity calendar of events. Make your hometown diverse and inclusive. Expand your own awareness too. Plan events for diversity and inclusion. Hire diverse people, including in the arts. As much as possible, avoid tokenism by involving two or more members of each group and ensuring everyone makes meaningful contributions. Practice microinclusions.

What are your hometown's big centers of activity? Typical examples include community centers, YMCA or YWCA, malls, convention centers (USA or global), colleges, libraries, fairgrounds, parks, playspaces, and other places that host events. Check your local library or tourist office for a map of your town or county -- many places have one showing area attractions.

Little Free Libraries are wonderful things, but local America seems to hate them. Read about them and build your own. These are ubiquitous in T-America.

There are also many variations beyond books. See a free seed library. This one combines books and seeds. Find seed libraries. Little Free Pantry distributes food. Learn how to make a Little Free Pantry. A Givebox can hold anything that fits inside it. Visit the Givebox page on Facebook. There are instructions for building various styles in German and French (upright or cubbyhole). Here are some examples. If you're not crafty, you can make a little free whatever by upcycling a storage device such as a wardrobe, china cabinet, or refrigerator -- the fridge is especially nice outdoors because it seals.

What is the seating like in your area? Creative seating employs more municipal artists than mass-produced seating, offers thematic interest, and encourages people to interact. Watch out for hostile architecture, which harms some people physically and everyone mentally, and lobby against it.

A Friendship Bench is a designated spot for socializing, meeting new people, and seeking comfort.  Some places call it a Buddy Bench or Happy to Chat Bench.  Most are general, but some have a specific theme, such as a Formerly Employed Mothers Hang Out Zone.  This tool is crucial for emotional first aid because it gives people a nonverbal way of requesting help. Sometimes people are too upset to speak clearly, don't know how to articulate a complex issue, and/or don't feel comfortable asking aloud.  If you have control of a park, building courtyard, school, or any other public to semi-public space then consider adding a friendship bench.  You can buy a new commercial bench (plain or prelabeled), make one from upcycled materials, repaint a previous bench (wood or metal), or simply add a sign of plastic or paint near a bench to mark it as a friendship bench.

Live writing involves a writer working in public, such as a bookstore window, often taking prompts from onlookers. People can also do this at a fair or other event. It encourages local color because people often prompt about things they have encountered in the area.

Plein air is a similar idea in art. It can feature any kind -- painting, drawing, sculpture, etc. Find plein air events. They are fun whether you participate or just watch. You can have a ball just by setting out a table of free art supplies, which is very popular in T-America. In fact if you have a stretch of available pavement, all you need is a bucket of sidewalk chalk, which you can buy or make. This is a cheap, fun activity you can propose for any event. People have whole festivals of chalk art.

Support local art. Learn how to find artists in your area or search major cities. Hang local art in your business. Show your work in local businesses.

Encourage local music. There are many ways to join your local music scene. Search for live concerts near you. Find musicians to play with. Get gigs to play. Host an event with live music.

Busking most often features music but can include living statues, mime, acting, dance, or any of the other performing arts. Liverpool has written the gold-standard guide to busking. Use that, and share electronic or paper copies around your area. A busk stop is a designated area for busking. It may be marked with a permanent sign, a temporary sign, a painted stencil, a booth, a combination, or whatever. Stencils and handmade signs are cheap, permanent signs are sturdy, and booths provide shelter from weather. You can pop up a busk stop in any space you control, provided you don't live in a busk-hostle area. Read more about busking in Terramagne.

What kind of fairs and festivals happen in your hometown? Search for craft shows, street fairs, flea markets, festivals, and other activities in your area. This site has resources for organizing cultural events.
Tags: a little slice of terramagne, how to, recurring posts
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