Place matters, yet for most of us it’s hard to see how one can make a difference in this area. Between zoning and building codes, we often leave the built environment to developers and urban planners, figuring if real change is going to happen it’ll need to be big.
But what if that wasn’t the case?
Rigel Thurnston, founder of Austin Common Place and a good friend of mine, has become a master of developing great in-between spaces. His house abuts a particularly busy street in Austin, Texas and while most people would lament such a location, Rigel embraced it as an opportunity to do something unique and transformative.
He painted his fence. Then he invited others to help paint his neighbor’s fence. Check out what happened next!
A few things that makes this special:
- Private Space, Public Visibility – This project utilized a unique space: private property on the one hand, enabling Rigel to paint at will, and visibly public on the other. Too often these spaces are underutilized or neglected altogether, a missed opportunity to communicate and interact with others.
- Incorporating Others – From offering to paint neighboring fences, to inviting others in the neighborhood to join in, to embracing graffiti artists, involving others as co-collaborators and co-creators in the creative process creates a sense of community pride and teamwork that could never have happen had Rigel kept the process to himself.
- Never Done Mentality – The simple idea that this is an ongoing project keeps the spirit of community and creativity alive here. It leaves the door open for further action, perhaps fanning the flames of this little spark into just the sort of simple revolution we need!