Dawn McDougall. 06/26/14.
Dawn McDougall. 06/26/14.

How do we get people to slow down and interact where you wouldn’t normally be able to? How can spaces be redefined and repurposed to provide opportunities that increase social interactions. How might we make Philly slower? These questions come from the brainstorming session led by artist Hunter Franks, the creator of the “League of Creative Interventionists.”

Franks is a San Francisco-based artist currently in Philly on a Knight Grant that aims to “inspire civic participation.” Philadelphia is the second city on the Creative Interventions Tour. The hope is that a long-term group will form around the concept and continue the work after Franks leaves.

While in Philadelphia, Franks is staying in the Belmont neighborhood creating projects that promote social engagement. He specifically chose the Belmont community because it’s considered “less-desirable” and often overlooked. But Franks believes that the most challenged communities sometimes have the greatest potential, “I use creativity to build community. My participatory projects create shared spaces and experiences that break down social barriers and catalyze connections between people and communities.” Through small-scale, lightweight interventions that provide an opportunity for social encounters, communities can become stronger, more cohesive, and participate in “placemaking“.

Hosted by the Asian Arts Initiative in Chinatown, Franks led a workshop with professionals from the city to participate in a pilot League meeting. The session was a creative brainstorm with exercises that disrupted the routine theoretical ideation process. Participants were partnered off and had to create wild stories with a partner, who is for all intents and purposes a stranger.

Dawn McDougall. 06/26/14
Dawn McDougall. 06/26/14 Workshop participants use light-weight materials to create a “Slow Lane” on the freeway overpass.

The workshop resulted in a “Slow Lane” created from minimal materials. Though it might be impermanent the experiment is easily replicated, and it allowed participants to visualize the various forms civic engagement can take.

Watch the video below for more on Hunter’s thoughts on promoting social interactions.

Hunter Franks on SF Postcard Project

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