Monongahela Conference

Friday, October 24, 2003



Tim- Laurie you were talking about instrumental engagement and idealized visions.  But we’re not just interested in visions, we want to actualize.  What does it mean to have a networked relationship.  Stephanie Flom has a networked relationship here in Pittsburgh.  Platform has that in London, Ken Sarawewa had networked relationships in Nigeria.

Angelo- this is the center of the discourse

Erica- are you asking how to merge those.

she brought up the efficacy of the vision of desire. 

Tim- how do you plant the idea like a seed (no) like a tool.

Newton- lets get rid of the term instrumentality.

If I poke someone in my network, they’ll poke me back.

What we are talking about is deep humanity and trust.  They speak in a language of their own invention.  Instrumentality is manipulative. 

Tim and Newton- we need a new metaphore

Erica- if we each come with a separate vision, we need to have something that inspires the vision into a collective vision.  The group needs to have some collective ….

Tim- dan, with the Azerbijian pipeline book- did you want to inspire them?

Dan- it’s a little different- it’s the most rational thing we’ve ever done.  It was an enabling project.

Jane- the activist and campaigners commissioned a report and we said- lets make it something beautiful.  The books aesthetics launched the campaign.

Dan- but the people we were working with had a vision of stopping a huge international effort.  The information we could provide launched this movement.

Tim- the choice of your partners was critical.

Helen- the choices change as a result of the partners you work with.  It’s the group networking that changes the work.

Tim- five metaphors on the table- that I would split up on ends of a continuum.



-catalytic converter



-pools of water


Newton- people have to believe you can do something.

Tim- maybe we can’t answer this question, but let me ask you, those of you engaged in pedagogy- isn’t it important that we have a describable method.

Laurie-  we don’t want a hundred platforms and an overarching metaphor. We want different actions for different conditions.

Bret- I feel like I don’t want a homogenizing, overarching metaphor.

Tim- do we want to teach people change?  Do we want to spread this- or do we want to stay unique separate entities.

Suzi- I think that ….. through resononance all you have to create is a nucleus and then you see it spreading through culture already.

Dan- tim’s less patient than you.

Suzi- I can vouch that the little seed thrown out has taken root and its very gratifying.

Malcolm- if you invent metaphors for people your framing the world for them.  You can’t do that- they have to do it for themselves- but strategic knowledge is something you can teach.

Christine- I think branding or labeling is really limiting and can decrease the excitement of the thing.

Jan- I am an educationalist.  I think its our job to teach multiple pedagogies.  We’ve had terrible arguments about what is change.  This is not a political movement or it will die out.

Dan- let’s become far better at writing up our projects and making that information go further. There is a certain amount of reinventing the wheel.  Sharing information requires a good deal of humility.

Jackie-  I believe in multiple ways of doing things and that trying to label them too early on is dangerous. 

Tim- I would argue that this is an incredibly elite group that feels they don’t have a common language to share with a greater world.

Christine – we share by doing.

Tim- Can we create oak trees and collect continuously.  That we can go into any community and share in this discourse.  We don’t want to continuously be redefining the world.

Laurie- I think we can teach respect, anti-racism.  I don’t think we have to teach instrumentality.  Engage with people who already know the community and what they need and you can work with them.

Erika-  my town has 400 acres just given to them and I wonder what this group would do to work with my country.  I doubt that this group could do it.  It’s too academic.

Tim- we can’t agree on anything about how to create change? We’re going to have a tough time on Saturday.

Helen- it’s incredibly arrogant to think that we can change anybody.

Newton- we’re all artists or critics.  What do artists do it society/  we take risks.  Artists play too.  Got to be careful about being too serious.  I’d like to go  back to another ground.  We’re artists of a special kind.  We’re a bit separate and unaccepted by the rest of the art world.  We don’t have a unified practice. 

Tim- what is the common ground?

Newton- we are activists.  We are worried about successful practice. 

Stacie- but we’re all individuals.  It’s different when you through an artist into the community its different than throw someone else in the community.  It’s not just listening, its processing.

Jon- through listening and how we think cities should be be built.

Nicola- speak to the common ground- it’s complicated that  you want to seek. 2nd point is that the common ground is the creativity.  But its really hard.

Tim- there is nothing that separates us from other artists, except that I invited you here.  Where do we teach people about this stuff.

Tom-  we can bring things outside the scientific method.  Example of mining causing run off.

Tim- so there’s a certain autonomy outside of designated specialty.

Helen- the method of apprenticeship is the best method of teaching this practice.

Tim- that’s the dominant method in science and engineering. Is that what we’re talking about.  We teach mentor ship in the art model.

Jackie- lets separate common ground from methodology. We do have common ground and we shouldn’t have the same methodologies.  We each develop our own methodology. It does us a disservice to reduce it to three steps.

Tim- I’m not trying to establish myself as the expert.  I want to give these guys a set of methodologies.  I feel a little responsibility to tease out  what is in the tool box for this practice.

Mark D.- I haven’t figured out what exactly your getting at. But different students are going to respond to different methodologies.  But the network is important.  Your job as a teacher is to connect your student with the most compatible method.  Relational point of view your job is to connect your students with opportunities/mentors.

Suzi-I think the major tool is the one that you’ve set up here.  This discourse. The next step could be to talk about what is in the tool box.  What have you got in place in terms of tools that you could share with us.

Mark -  we had many presentations yesterday and you can pull apart and find out what you liked of each of them.  I don’t think theres a simplified way to get into the richness of one day.

Erika- I want to speak to your students.  When you get out to a place that you want to impact.  This level of trust has to be developed with the people you work with.  Humility and listening.  You open completely and listen.  Provocative questions to learn more. Humble investigator. Even if there is tremendous dispair.  Americans never listen we always tell.  But listening is such an effective tool. The persons mind becomes less cluttered. They can speak on par with you and work together as equals.

Reiko- we know everyone is different and we have to have respect about that.  We are going to the mon valley and look and see we want some change, what can we do abut that.  Can we work together for just three days? 

Tom- I think we are working together. Responsibilities to our students is getting a sense of who they are and who they want to work with or know about.

Helen- tool box- man y tools: listening, information and vision- have to care.  Caring shows in the way you look.

Tim- can you talk about skills, the skills you bring to the tools

Newton- in putting together a department in san diego- (lists a number of people) we all had in common performance.  We had to fight it out and then act as a model for the students and we did, but our curriculum was not good (that we worked out before hand)

Ann- how do you……. Organize, work across culture, how do you organize people.  It’s not some formula.

Tim- it’s dialogic expression.  It’s the carnevelesque, the diverse.

Erika- its not throwing out the old tools, like the paint brushes.

Jackie- I have to become a bit of a bloodhound to lead me to the people I need to talk to.

Tim- I’m sorry if this discussion is provocative.  I get emotional and …

Erica- obviously we’re here to serve you in part, somehow we’re missing it amd you are wanting more- what in your guts to you want to get out of this.

Tim- its simple – 10 arrows.  Art world is made up of single arrows and individuals… everyone of you has suggested in your paper that there’s a different way of working and we need to find ways to let that impact the world faster better stronger.  I don’t know what it is you all have, but if we don’t get it into teaching into the arts, but we’ve got real problems. We have to get started. But these conversations are really important.





Tom and Connie Merriman

Both from greater Pittsburgh region – Connie Allegheny River, Tom Mon Valley

Industrial landscape is part of their common experience

Tom worked in a mill in McKees Rocks to get through college


Towns faltered after mills declined and struggled to figure out how to manage themselves


Early work dealt with the individual being effected by larger economical political decision that were beyond their control

This work was criticized for not being based on factual evidence and research, needed to engage more in the issues to know what they were talking about


Quebec project – electrical plant that distributed power to Pittsburgh – so it was relavent to the their location

Tom and Connie researched for a year, talked to stakeholders, what was their position?

Talked to those involved in the project, as well as native people who would be effected by it (Cree and Inuete)

Ecological effects were huge – water contaminated with Mercury, waters made to reverse their direction in river beds, etc

“Perceptions of Power” – Canadian officials from HydroQuebec said the land was barren, wasteland.  Cree and Inuete see it as their garden

Tom and Connie attended a gathering of these two tribes to talk about how to oppose this project

Hydro-Quebec were very proud of their proposed project, engineers felt that it was a very important technological step

T and C started to think of them as priests maintaining a cathedral to technology

T and C were given full access to the project


They made installations responding to this situation:


Air conditioner and space heater dualing – Canadians used electricity for heat, new york state for AC


Asked Inuete man how they could help, he said go home and turn off your lights.


System was set up to support American culture, we need to solve our cultural problems


Residency at a school – the area had been strip mined, devastated

Students worked to reclaim the site and make a statement about it, they created a wetland on the site

USX who owned the site contributed resources


Interest in West Virginia

There are polluted streams, compromised communities, mountain top removal for stripmining

Coal is being extracted in large amounts and shipped over seas cause it’s high sulfur coal


Local resistance movement is emerging

Coal miners union was involved in supporting the movement


It was hard to see what was happening from the ground.

Mining companies control access to sites and don’t allow people to see the effects

T and C flew over the area with an advocacy group


Mining companies remove mountain tops and place the displaced material in the valleys, filling in riverbeds, killing trees

Leads to flooding because there are no trees


Another problem is the coal slurries, where the coal is cleaned on site

One accident was bigger than the Exxon Valdese spill

Destroyed sections of the Allegheny

Company’s solution was just to bulldoze the slug out of the water and leave it on the flat land

People in the area felt that their problems had just been dismissed by the rest of the country and the destruction of their homes wasn’t seen important


More installations in response:


Slides projected onto a screen with images of animals, the devastation of the town obscured the animal life


Connie made quilts in which she planted seeds

After the show the quilts were taken to the bony piles near their home and reseeded


Laurie Palmer:

Background in site based art practice

Personal practice as well as collaborative practice with Haha


Political work is slightly separate from art work

Works on housing issues and queer politics in Chicago

Ecology has always been part of the work however



Hydro-phonic garden project

Initial idea was of Interconnection

Chemical lased water goes over the roots of plants and all the roots grow together

Dirtless situation would avoid the contamination potentials of dirt

This was more of a rationalization for setting up this system though

The project took on more dimensions than expected


They had the store front where there were harvests, meals each week, aids ed programs, other educational programs

Outdoor gardens as well

Sterility of hydro-phonic system suggested the sterility of the medical issues

Outdoor gardesn were more involved in the sensory aspects of gardening


Sponsorship of the projects raised issues

Initially sponsored by and arts fund – bus tours each week

Once it was no longer affiliated with an arts organization people were very confused about what they were doing

Storefront, what are you selling?  Nothing, come inand talk to us

That relationship of a storefront and the people that they talked to and interacted with were really crucial, they provided many services beyond the garden, developed relationsips with people and this was the major lesson of the project


Another project

3 Acres on a lake

She was just really interested in this meadow

Heard that it was going to be turned into a parking lot

Researched the area, what was it used for?

Found that it had been dedicated to a black explored who was the first non-indigenous settler

It had yet to be transformed into a park because of the lingering racism

Also found it was contaminated

Couldn’t figure out initially who owned the land

It was partially set aside as park land

BUT clauses connected to a developer who had rites to purchase and develop it in 2007

Laurie saw it as a rich site of contradiction

Put out a call for proposals independently – no prize or competition, no realization

She had not control over the land, but was interested in

Emphasised that proposals not defer to practicality, safety issues, etc

But required it to remain dedicated to Du Sable

Began working with an organization that was working to push for the development as a site as a park

But art project was to do something else

Proposals came from all over the world,

They held exhibitions of proposals: they were all over the place: mobile gardens in trucks, high rise landfill, landscape designs, bio-remediation, boats full of floating gardens, retirement homes for special interest groups, Du Sable league proposed text

Wild ideas

Du Sable coalition was able to use this publicity and momentum


Jamie Johnson’s project

Gardener in Chicago – appropriates vacant lots that were created without official process

To creates public space

Exhibition had information about each of these spaces

Also Made benches in the shape of vacant lots in the city to show potential within the city



Now in Boston

Visiting mines and writing about them

Visited mines in Mexico, Texas, New Mexico

Looking at market based initiative to sell helium

Writing essays and educating self about these systems and their complexity


Carolyn 11:07

Ann Rosenthal


Eco-art process and practice.

In 1995, I attended the united nations 4th world conference on women, I was contemplating going to grad school.  The conference inspired me to return to school in the hopes that I could use my art to create change in the world.


The Beijing conference was a life-chaning event.  I couldn’t waste any more time. I had to devote my life to makig a difference.

Q: what is the roots of our environmental problem.

I wanted to trace it back.  What belief systems, were making it possible to destroy our lifesupport system.   * was searching for a form to convey my ideas that would incorporate

Eco social interprestaions fo place




Another project that began to inform my work.  We had an echange with an art school is southern germany.  Site: former nato base.  There was a lot of debris around from this former use. Basically this was a collage of that debris. Tension between military and domestic (wheat growing area of germany)


Eco-confessional- adobpted personas of wood-nyph and mother earth.

Set up crazy booth.  Recycled items, plastic ivy.  Playing with idea as nature as a construction.  Set up on campus and in market area in downtown Pittsburgh.  Asked people to confess their environmental sins.  Wanted to be ethical/responsible.

Cards that we handed out with easy things people could do to promote their relationship to nature.


Opportunity with steffi domijke conference of women assessing relationship with the environment.  Wanted to show what artists were doing.  Toxic Vernacular.

Social construction of nature

Layered histories

Play and irony

Personalizing the political

Went to various streams , brought cloth there and sometimes left it there and let the streams stain the cloths.postcards of the site.  Tourist narrative and information on the site.  Images altered in terms of coloring, but they are actual sites.  Juxtapose apple tree and industry.  Hisotry of the site- information we wanted to communicate.  Complicity with the industry.


River Vernacular- for a show at the Hudson river museum. We chose sites, postcards from places that were particularly attractive to us. Selected cards and had a number of interviews with environmental activists, biologists.  They were eager to talk about them.  Focus on the river that runs through yonkers.  Stamps for the postcard were derived from the postcards.  We went and soaked our cloths.  We sent the final drafts of the texts and asked the historians and ecologists how they would revise them and then steffi and ann rewrote and distinguishged their intention from that of scientists.  Worked on websites and printed up large postcards, and made an installation.  Facilitate a community revisioning the postindustrial landscape.  Romantisicing the post industrial landscape.  Arts studios in a former mill building.

 This project intergrates the form content and strategies that I have been crafting for several years.

Eco-art values  intention of my process and practice is to model the following values as an artist, educator, community activist an citizens

Land ethics

Systems thinking

Sustainability- designour our lives

Social and biological diversity-

Social and environmental justice

Collaboration inter disciplines respect


Quote from bell hooks going deep and find the roots of our environmental dis-ease.


Temporary Services-

.public sculpture opinion poll- 3 of us work together. We decided to talk about a single project.  Project from 2000.episodic” a sculpture that appeared in our neighborhood.  It seemed like this project just fell from the sky into our neighborhood.  No information provided- except “keeping neighborhoods alive  even calling the city to find out about the sculpute was really a hassle- self addressed stamped envelopes.  Agenda: drive by sculptural experiences.


Placement of sculpture of how the democratic machine works in Chicago.  Holdover from mobsters running the government. One of the immediate responses was lets get a truck and pull the thing over.  Whats a more creative way?


We make publications for almost every project we do.  To take responsibility for our ideas and the discussions we were having.  We started talking about how we might strategize about this sculpture.   It’s a preety diverse area.  We wanted a means for finding out how people felt about this thing.  Anonomously, or in different language.  To hear unbiased unmediated opinions.  We bought cheap clip boards and mounth them on telephone poles.  The survey had images of the sculptures.  Asked people to respond and said that it their feedback might be sent to dept of public art.


After we learned that we had missed a lot of commentaries.  We didn’t want to organize the neighborhood to remove it.  Some people liked it, others wanted to remove it, said it was for the white people to enable gentrification.  Some of the most thoughtful responses were from children.  (they reaad the responses) when you read them as a whole.  They displayed these responses where? And made a publication.


Brett was on a panel with mike lash director of the cities public art.  I was able to counter what he said about the project. He compared the people of the city to rats.



Discussion with the Mon Valley Initiative in Homestead


Ginger Steve and Lorraine with Mon Valley Initiative

Lorrain, Outreach Director,

Steve, homestead main street manager



In Homestead.  Talking about the MonFayette expressway.  Maybe been in the plans for the llast 50 years.  Cut across the valley and go across the river.  Go through hazelwood- yet another barier to these communities.  Go right on the flood plain.  Connecting west Virginia to Pittsburgh. Proposal would be to go under or on top of Turtle Creek.  a former creek.


Lower Greenfield was once a vibrant community but when 376 got right of way- now it’s a ghost town.


Over the last 50 years the mon valley has seen a 60% decrease in population. 


The waterfront –its here- what can we do- to make it a more positive situation.  Owning a home in the US is one of the only ways to generate income and have stabililty.  How can we make programs so that people can progress from low income jobs to better positions.  When the school system in decay like in Dusquene, its hard to keep people in the town, in the school. 


Lorraine- I grew up in Hazelwood.  My father in law went down to the end of hazelwood ave to go swimming and boating.  Now people don’t have that connection/access to the river.  Part of it is education about having access to the river.  I think the focus is now, is the national park in Braddock. Part of the steel industry heritage corporation.  A committee that spun off of MVI- a park that would replicate what a steel mill would look like.  Renovate the hotmetal bridge to have access from this side of the river.


Newton- what do you do with all that space?  You could remove every other wall and people would have more space.


Lorraine- even if we move the buildings- there’s empty lots.


Jane- who funds the MVI-

Ginger- some gov’t funds.  Small developers fee.

Grant- ask about the power of the CDC organization. sometimes they are covers for gentrification.  Usually at the beginning the CDC opens with a benign face- talking about housing, but those things get dropped.  What leverage do you have to defend the assets of the working class who live here.


Ginger- while we call ou r member organizations CDCs most of them are not incorporated, most of them are neighborhood organizations.  Have you been reading howard husak?


Lorraine- we are closely linked to the people in the community

Ginger- one way to get power is to be successful and we haven’t always been successful.  Get attention of funders.


Lorraine- now we are looking at larger project

Jon- gentrification in urban areas in driven my market- in Pittsburgh we have a void to a degree

Grant- but someone thought therewould be a market

Jon- but that is just for consumers from the other side of the river.


Newton- what would I pay for the building next door.


Jon- what about a big old house?


Ginger- between 20 and 90 thousand.


Tom- isn’t homestead more than other neighborhoods?


Stephanie- yes it’s half that down the river.


Some talk about the house market ensues

Mark- how does a citizen idea come through the cdc- through mvi to fruitition?


Lorraine- I can remember one of the first projects we did… the community Inessin? wanted to do start new business to bring new jobs.  MVI does all the calculations for budget.  Then that goes to the community investment corp.  That project was built.  But since the advent of the computer you can do it at home- that initiative is struggling now.


Ginger- there’s   a lot of examples from a public health issue to…. Housing issues. Eventually the group says we need some professional help with this.


Dan- do you feel you have power in this community?  I really want to know who makes decisions in this community.


Enter David lewis-  did a huge charette many years ago.


Dan- if you don’t feel you have the power- who does.are there economic forces at work in which you are just pawns.


David- the answer is that we are proud that we live in a democracy.  I grew up in capetown.  Got in trouble as a student (kicked out ) for trying to open up the university.  We were branded as communitists.  I immediately volunteered for the war. I then became an exiled citizen at the time of the big crackdown  on the African national congress.  Then I became a brit. Then I became an American.  This country for all its faults- is a democrazy- the power is spread in a democracy.  The council can control some of what we can do.  We know the council people.  We have a CDC.  It sit on the board of a CDC.  Each borough has their own mayor, their own fire dept. their own trash dept.  the power is distributed.  I can’t think of any centralized power that controls our life here in the borough.


I started an urban laboratory.


Tim- we are trying to get to a sense of the Mon Valley.

David- In 1984 the Mills closed down and 17.5 million jobs were lost- overnight- mostly male jobs. This valley here was a male dominated valley- steelers- iron city beer.  But it didn’t just happen here- it happendd all trhough the north of England.and the rurh valley. So in 1982- I was asked to be part of a seminar- organized by the prince of wales.  At that conference I got an idea.  I would form an international conference to deal with the fall of industry to make proposals for these brownfields site.  In 1986 we had the re-making cities conference – what are the assets after this tremendous economic loss. And after the conference was over- I was left with a sense of terrible guilt- what had I done?

All these ideas- but still thousands of people unemployed.  Gigantic castration.  I decided to move over here to work for it.  I moved in 1987- I knew nobody.  The first person I met was Ray sinosky- we were appointed to the board of the local community college- educated thousands of unemployed.  Steel buildings bought by a park system.  Steel to be sold to japan to make Toyotas .  the community wanted to hold on to the mills- they wanted the companies to come back and restart the steel production.


We felt the only way to make a differnce was to develop a master plan for the three boroughs.  Then two detailed action plans.  That all took the best part of seven or eight years.  But we are moving now.  Meanwhile the mills came down.  We managed to save the chimneys and the pump house.


Lorraine (not lynne)  we are we beginning to have power- we don’t have what we’d like o have. The lawsuit that david mentioned was an exercize in testing our power, but there’s a ways to go.

David- power over what?


Dan- power over decision making.


Lorraine- in some of our boards the members have run for and now sit on council.  Initially when the community group formed there was a lot of fear about how this would affect council. 


David- this community is largely African American- but they are not doing the decision making and they aren’t active on the street.  When I go to the bank and redevelopment corp. there are few African Americans we have to reinfranchise this large disenfranchisement.  Gentrification is a two way street.  Tends to drive out lower income family, but gentrification stimulates the economy.  We need to have owner occupied businesses on this street.


Mckeesport Meeting

Cheryl Sears- Mckeesport neighborhood –

Hannah Erlich- mon valley trail council-

Laura         Mckeesport City Council


Cheryl- why do you want to talk to me?  Tim said to just tell him what you do.

We’ve got hope that this community will be revitalized. Tim and reiko didn’t tell you about the backbreaking experiences that they’ve had with me with the green space.

We want to make this a place that kids will want to stay here and we want to make them stay here.  These are some of the projects we’ve done here in mckeesport.  Houses have been demolished.  Houses have disappeared and jungles have appeared.  You have to maintain the spaces.  It’s hard to get people to maintain them.  We’re sort of keeping up with it.


Mckeesport councilperson Laura- when you see a good appearance yoou might want to stay- you might want to have a business here.  Networking and collaborating with the people in our communityu even with our churches. We’re looking at the brownfield area.  It’s a long involved process. We want to know in Harisburgh wha they want from us.  So we try to get them to come down to our space.We had friends of the river front.  We encourage people to get out on the river.


Hannah- I’m not from mckeesport.  I came here with my job, but I’ve crafted this job where I work on recreation all the time.  So I’m looking at making connections on the land and on the water.  Connecting with amenities. Development of a connector along the water.  Mckeesport is a city of intersections both water and land trails. Co-sponsored a river dialogue.  There are a lot of challenges here.  If you can develop an official trail along the water, you can do it any where. That workshop got people on the river and came up with creative solutions.  Based on that a lot of discussion has taken place.


I’ll talk specifically about the steel valley trail. We’re a volunteer board. In order to build a trail through the mon valley.  The RIDC park spans…..


Newton- what does it mean to work with an active rail yard?


Hannah- it makes it exponentially more expensive to work with them. One example is to talk about the removal of a pipe.  The price for the land (1.3 miles) is 100,000 dollars, but 1 million dollars of clean-up.  Can’t leave the pipe on the land, because us steel would be liable.


We are an important connector and a valuable asset for mckeesport.

We don’t have a lot of trails complete, but once we have that through trail for Pittsburgh to Cumberland.

Tim- Cheryl and laura could you talk about what rivers and trails mean to mckeesport?


Laura- I think it’s a very viable for mckeesport.  Water therapy is very good.  People are going down there.We go by boat to the stadium to see a game. We’re getting more people involved.  And the planting that’s going on (at the marina) and we have concerts down there.  And people go down there on a Sunday and enjoy themselves, and  brong people  from the elderly home.


Cheryl- we took a space in the marina and we tore it our and planted  butterfly garden.  The patients from the nursing home could enjoy the butter fly.  And that s where the trail starts in Mckeesport.  Laura and I are members of the board of the trails and we keep a close eye on the trails and we’re going to work toward the establishing trails here in mckeesport.


Hannah- could you talk about the ______history  and environmental day? We asked historians to dig out their boxes and people could display their history and people from outside the community could see the history and so that youth could see the history.  John Herr wrote about mckeesport called the wolf finally came.  That was a perfect day!  We tore out and replanted 5 blocks of the trail. 200 people and lets go get on this – every year we’ll have a history and environmental day.


Reiko – everybody is made to feel so welcome  and introduced and recognized.


Cheryl- we’d like everybody to live here.  We have no budget. John Stevens? Brought mulch and trees. We name the trees after the kids and tell them to take care of it.  3 rivers second nature brought the trees one year.

Tim- what are some of the issues with the trail besides the obvious one of the pipeline.


Hannah- we have a lot of municipalities down here. 

Laura- it’s hard to get everybody active about it.  Over 300 people ride their bikes all their way up there- different ages. Anytime we put the word out, we get what we need.


I am the director of a new housing project – 7 ward- a targeted neighborhood.  We’ve got to sell those homes. The marina and the trail are big selling points. I walk it every evening.  It’s an important selling point for new and rehabbed homes in this area.


Brian- how did the trail (that goes to dc) get started.  There is an organization called the Albany trail alliance.  You can get on your bike in mckeesport and ride 100 off road miles. That’s pretty amazing, but it’s still up the local groups to organize it in their area.


Tom- but there was a rail line that was abandoned.


Jackie- you mentioned you had problems maintaining the spaces- how have you handled it.


Cheryl- we publisze them, ask people to take a look at them. I keep everything in very visable spaces. 


Jackie- because when we have a child that ongoing work is caring and nuturing.


Tim-Asks a queston-


Cheryl – I got the city to come out, the only issue was the union wouldn’t let me talk to the workers directly. They came with great tools and equipment and by the end of the day

They were getting excitied about the work and asking me “Cheryl whats next” !


Ann: Why a butterfly garden?


Cheryl – Johns Stephen’s had the idea.


Ann – teaching a learning over time, grass gardens, herb gardens, moss gardens.

History as part of the ideas in the gardens….


Cheryl – Reiko brought the plants and helped the kids learn what they all mean to the kids.


Newton -  was there farming? Population and unemployment changes?


Laura – not in Mckeesport, further out in boston.


Cheryl – industry as you will see here, Manchester Craftsmans guild wants to grow hydroponic tomatoes. Bio-tech, there is work, but mostly skilled labor.


Laura – people are talking about a mill. There are people ready to work on a daily basis. They can find jobs.


Cheryl – Echostar a Colorado cable company is now here.


Newton – You’re in a recovery. Are the schools good?


Laura – schools are good, penn state extension is here, student community center just opened


Jane – how many people go to Pittsburgh? Where are the ferry’s?.


Cheryl – we had a train, that was taken away, people thought it was the ridership but we think it was really the jail.


Tom – the loss of the trains, was tied to the construction of the jail.


Hanah – what about the Mon Fayette?


Laura – subway or maglev sounds right to me.

MFE – I don’t like it one bit. When steel was here we got goods to the business without it.


LauraMckeesport is on the rise, we have new blue roof homes, high technology homes that help older people stay in connection with family members that provide clear. We have a high rate of seniors that enjoy the rivers. Older folks are using the trails, and networking with outer people.


Helen – I was impressed when I saw that you had a head start here, lots of community caring, and elderly.


Laura – we have weed and seed, community cares, arts and soul program. Mckeesport is well rounded, if we didn’t have social programs


Return toe CMU for Prensentations

Ground Zero

-          action network

-           a point of convergence for creative people, information and communities

books that describe where we started.

For this conference we’ve tried to focus on method. 

Our basic structure is a network. The only defining thing that we have is that those people be creative and do stuff.  We also have some shared values .  focus on the built environment and genergating projects.


Have three project types

Encourage and spawn creativeity

Ecologically regionally thinking

Making connections- between people, infrastructure, andinformation.


We are not:

No incorporated

 No board

No offices no


No money

No bueraocracy

Loose volunteer network run by core group


Structure/ no structure

Core group 10 to 20 people  all are part time, connected to other organization throughout the city.  Every couple months the core group gets together to resource share


One of the core members will lead the project and try to form a team. Large degree of autonomy/  I might not know that much about it.  Projects need some money – they’ll go find it.


Then we have a large network of people who get our emails and people we try to engage.  Our basic model is the flexible network. Web based network:

Connect people

Communicate information

Solicit ideas

Build project teams

Advertise our events


Pittsburgh there’s money lying around in foundations and we will try to come up with ideas to harvest that money.


Bueys- everyone is an artist.  Everyone is creative and we can tap that creativity and get them to go do things.  By engaing with people we can work with them.  We can build culture from the bottom- get everyone to do this.  To do this in a meeting setting we’e stolen some of the ideas from urban planning.  Whats’ good whats bad, what can we do, what do we want to happen but we need to ask someone with more power than us.   Encourage participants to become leaders.  Because people know that we’re not the government = people get engaged. Some don’t  that’s how we get people working on these things.  Then we use our network to try to connect them to people who can help them realize their goals. 



New projects coming out of Activate Pittsburgh sessions

      Existing projects seeking resources and development

Individuals approaching ground zero with a specific idea.

Building coalitions of existing groups around a project or issue.

In 2000- a little after we were both after school. Fifth and forbes catalyst.

-anger with a removal and replacement development project for downtown Pittsburgh creates a need to provide a model for action.


Mattress factory meeting- an event organized by Richard florida acts as a catalyst for action by connecting people around ideas.  “New economy people.”

 Out of that initial event we had a cinco de mayo event that would gather more people together to see what we could do.  A few projects were taken on right away.


First steps- a manifesto email invitation

Cinco de mayo event

Yellow book summarizes ideas

A second event starts projects


Initial projects-

Network development

Fighting fifth and forbes

Celebrate Pittsburgh- flux

Transit- UV loop.


Critique of the model-

Inherently disorganized

Personality driven

Weak underfunded center

Volunteer nature creates difficualty with follow through

Perception of core as a closed clique

Issues of legitimacy in public policy debates

Difficulty engaging people in the over all organization

Audience limited by technology

Limited ethnic diversity

No one person’s full time focus.


Good stuff-

Speed and flexibility

No constraits on positions

Highly inter/multi disciplanarity

Connections to many types and levels of other organizations

Some progress in influencing policy

Structure forces …..






act poittsburgh  collaboration sessions

UV loop

Mon-fayette expressway- organized people who were working against it.

The art of the news- public cable channel- spoof news show.

Skinny building- 6 feet wide building art gallery

Making a scene- 10 day long  getting artists to work together- free building to play in

Urban hike- one day once a month- 4 or 5 mile hike.

Art Votes

Busk Pittsburgh make street performers legal

Forgery- collaboration of literary magazine- common office space-

Salvo- construction junction-

F7- adult spelling bee

Community murals project- taken over by the sprout fund.

Project- stay Pittsburgh- pitt students want to get people to stay.


All that in three years.



J 18-  1999.

Campaign against capitalism.-  foucault quote- my work is based on.


My research is an attempt to engage with this event.  Engage with it as a network creativity.  Takes place in the financial district. Essentially I wanted to engage with this as something that embodies the wider context.  Street based events- has tended to mark these events as resistance but it has produced the demonstration as container. This approach describes events for political purpose.  Repeatable. 


Demonstrations outlive the participants.  Protest is a sign of protest.  Demonstration of a sign.  Is it effective or not?  Whom is changing public opinion and how?


Model of culture is communication.  Literatures use culture as a model of communications.  Container and the sign.


Doesn’t matter in this model if we give priority to the demonstrator or the city as long as the gap is represented.  The invisible is made visable.


In this model-

Communication is a constant production of difference.  Breaking down the boundaries …..

Rather than mainaining this difference post structuralism fetishizes theis difference.

Everthing is reduced to meaning not really.  In this world how do we become ethical beings.


In the UK the anticaptitalist demonstrations have been training grounds for police and constraining and survaling the public.


I’ve chosen to engage with this demonstration in creating new spaces of action. Rather than engage with the protest as a text, I‘ll try to engage with this activity as a singular language.


Cultural production and a new space to test them in.  an event of theory and practice.

The methods have been a real struggle. I’m cconstantly forced to be an eterinal critic instead of finding what is the creativity of this.

I am taking each of the elements of this, samba band, critical mass, each of these elements that emerge in the demonstration and I follow them as they move.


A physiological examination of the demonstration. What I am trying to do is put these practices on a plane of effectivity.  Similar to lock ins and sit ins.  They locate and characterize the event.

Problem of aligning effectivity and creativity which (as you all know) is seen as not artistic practice.