In three years of existence GroundZero has transformed the arts and culture of Pittsburgh beyond our own expectations. However, the organization does have its problems – some that are probably inherent and others that we are striving to address. Our chosen structure is inherently disorganized and loose and, because we have no official leader, we often have trouble with routine organizational tasks. Our core model can at times be personality driven, causing internal conflict and questions of long-term organizational sustainability. The fact that funding happens at the level of the projects means that the central organization is perennially penniless. Our decision to remain a volunteer organization often results in failure to effectively follow through on tasks and projects. Our informality and virtual nature make the organization hard to understand and communicate with from the outside. This has led to some issues of legitimacy when we have tried to take a stand on public policy issues, and it has also sometimes led to a perception of the group as being a closed clique promoting its members' personal agendas. Because of this perception and because of our project-based structure, we have often times had difficulty engaging people in the overall organization. Lastly, to date, our audience has been limited by technological accessibility, and we have had a limited level of racial diversity in our audience and our internal core.
Current GroundZero Action Network Projects
Happenings is our information network project. It is a subscription email list that sends out a weekly short edited list of arts and culture events submitted to GroundZero. Attached to the Happenings list is our network Announce list which informs people about our own projects, events, and project participation opportunities.
The intent of FLUX is to provide a new forum for artists to perform, interact with and promote themselves in non-traditional settings. The settings for these events are carefully chosen to represent locations that are in a state of transition or “flux” between a rich past and a promising future. FLUX events occur a few times a year with a different set of artists each time. They typically draw upwards of a 1000 people.
Project: ACTIVATE PITTSBURGH
Activate Pittsburgh is about making Pittsburgh better from the inside out. This is our project that seeks to capture creative energy, engage new audiences, and start new projects. A few times a year, we hold a session to introduce people to GroundZero, provide a forum for discussion of ideas and projects, and engage people in the network.
Project: ULTRAVIOLET LOOP
The UltraViolet Loop (UV Loop) is a new bus route that circles the city. It started as a small demonstration project. Since our initial project launch, it has evolved into a non-profit UltraViolet Advisory Board, which collaborates with the Port Authority of Allegheny County to run the buses. The UV Loop is designed to showcase many of Pittsburgh's diverse neighborhoods and nighttime entertainment venues.
Project: MON-FAYETTE EXPRESSWAY
The Mon Fayette is a proposed expressway that will have a profound impact on many of the city's most valued amenities and assets. The Ground Zero Action Network played a significant role in the creation of the Mon Fayette Alternative plan based upon
upgrading existing roads, introducing new public transit and reinvesting in existing communities. The project has not yet been stopped.
Project: THE ART OF NEWS
The Art of News is a live local news program reporting on Pittsburgh's urban environment and culture in a visually interesting and content diverse manner. The Art of News began as a small project last year. Through the GroundZero network of doers, makers, and creative people, the scope of the project has broadened and has become a truly collaborative project. The show will airs on PCTV21.
Ground Zero with a variety of partners, transformed the upper two stories of this six foot wide building into a highly visible showcase for the arts located right in the heart of Pittsburgh's downtown. Each month, we transform the 24 windows in this space into a public display space for innovative works by outstanding Pittsburgh artists.
Project: MAKING A SCENE
“Making A Scene” was a 10-day multidisciplinary event that brought artists to the Downtown Cultural District to make art collaboratively with public involvement. MAS took place from October 12-21, 2001 and has had long-lasting influence on collaborative art efforts in the years since its' inaugural event.
Project: URBAN HIKE
Urban Hike aims to connect Pittsburghers to the various neighborhoods of the city – it is a project to educate any willing participants about this great city, via urban hiking. We learn about the various neighborhoods of Pittsburgh by eye-witnessing what makes each so special and unique – their art, culture, and way of life.
Project: ART VOTES
Art Votes is a project dedicated to making Pittsburgh a city that promotes a culture that supports the arts. Art Votes does this through voter registration, mission-focused events and fundraisers, and through education on issues and candidates. The intent is to make artists a visible voting constituency.
Project: BUSK PITTSBURGH
Busk Pittsburgh is a project to promote street performance in Pittsburgh. It has launched an educational campaign that will run throughout the winter and is designed to foster street performing. Efforts include working with performing artists and venues to facilitate the growth of street performance throughout the city, and gaining public acceptance by informing the community about how busking enhances the vitality of city streets.
Project: THE FORGERY
The Forgery is a collective of independent journals, magazines, presses, writers, and literary organizations dedicated to exposing Western Pennsylvania communities to the literary process we offer through educational workshops, readings, events, and publishing to retain and attract literary talent, nurture a literary scene, and help realize a literary voice within those communities.
SALVO stands for Salvage Artists Linking Venues and Opportunities. The goal of the project is to foster art making with salvage materials through events and ultimately through a permanent salvage arts work and exhibition space. SALVO will be a hands-on place where people can recycle, create, and collaborate on salvage art. The long-term goal is to create a permanent home for this kind of activity, but the project will start this fall with a major salvage arts festival.
F7, named after the key on the keyboard that launches Microsoft's spell check feature, maintains that spelling has as much to do with intelligence as French kissing has to do with speaking the language, that descriptive spelling is the work of the devil, and that a spelling bee is nothing short of a bloodless battle royal.
Project: COMMUNITY MURALS
The Community Murals project promotes murals and other public art all over the Pittsburgh area. The project idea was adopted and funded by the Sprout Fund. Starting with seven murals, the project strives to make quality art, create a lasting source of employment for local artists provides a source of mentoring for younger area artists, and offers a way for communities to come together to collaborate on the mural process.