Crossings & Crime: Observations

by Angela (A) Pamanee (P) and Nikki (N)

P1050203 P1050190A: Dechen, Cami and Catherine broke many trends of all the charettes to date.

P: It’s a really interesting and creative approach for the charette to try remote participation and use the benefit of social media.

N: The format of using Internet device, as a method to spread out the exhibition and discussion, is a great idea and it’s a great indication that more people can get involved into the process.

A: The team engaged the Henry audience remotely, from Aurora Avenue, by broadcasting the charette progress through a live radio and twitter stream.

P: It allows live area study and interaction with people on Aurora. Cool!

But, the start is not smooth because we are not all technology people- not everyone uses Twitter. L We start to tune in with the broadcast at 4:40. For me it is difficult to follow the conversation via radio. But it works in the sense that the team keeps updating and responding all the time.

N: During site visiting, the team was constantly reporting the condition, which made it clear for the observers to get to know the situation.


  1. Does the group predict any inconvenience for the people in a different location? (i.e. meeting room, Henry Art Gallery, or by theirself)
  2. How much concern did the team give to the situation in Henry Art Gallery?


P: there are 4-5 walk-in audiences who seem kind of lost and don’t know how to react or participate. Difficult to hold people’s attention all three hours.

N: It was hard to imagine the body language and the gestures remotely.

P: This method works for those who wouldn’t be able to participate in an on-site charette. It allows for public sharing and participation for wider group of people. It also allows for individual concentration on the charette and, for some, it’s easier to follow.

N: I liked the introduction part of the discussion. The team mentioned our professors, professional guests, and the audience.

A: The process began inside an afternoon light-filled Aurora Commons, a women’s community center on Aurora and 90th. The team, plus dancers Ben & Rainbow and Aurora Commons director Karen, engaged in a conversation that flo­­­wed between explanation of: how the charettes had been working so farthe team’s approach to this charette,                           everyone’s visions of projects dealing with the theme of representing marginalized identities, and everyone’s characterizations of life and people on Aurora.

The team made their guests feel welcome by asking what they wanted to get out of the charette and by inviting them to share their own visions for projects. Though Karen was initially unsure of the purpose of the charette and uncomfortable speaking to an unknown audience on an i-phone radio, the team did a great job of reaching out to her in her element and allowing her to express her passion for the community.

Several common interests emerged, including performancestorytellingcharacter development, and, again, compelling representations of the frequently marginalized.

N: During the process, they talked about the main issues: Homeless, crossing, Pedestrian bridges.

A: Dechen noted that while the online twitter feed and radio broadcast were charette products in and of themselves, they could push their concepts further by going out onto the street and filming/performing/interviewing people.

After more talk about:                                                                                                                      needs on Aurora (“grace, and people’s names to be known,” [-Karen])                                 the conundrum of successful artistic cooperatives sans gentrification, and logistics of funding, the group expressed interest in going outside and making something happen before it got dark.

P: There was a blank moment: take a break 4:50, take a walk 5:45-6:10, disappear 6:30-6:50, 7:00-7:20 for drive back

A: During a break, Catherine had an idea: in an effort to wrap all the discussed ideas together, including interviewsaudio-video documentationstorylines, and visions of performance…perhaps a dancer could listen to a recorded interview and interpret their reaction through dance. This could happen on 99 different sites along Aurora, and it could be broadcasted so that anyone could listen. Everyone liked the idea- as easy as that!

P: You guys ran out of battery.

N: There was a long pause.

A: We walked outside and met some dudes who were happy to introduce one another. They were curious about our class.

We walked along the street in the twilight and found a recessed stage accessed by a ripped chainlink fence. Some pictures were taken of charetters posing as homeless people with actual ‘Anything Helps’ signs- and generally taking on roles of ‘users’ in the site, which admittedly made me slightly uncomfortable.

Karen introduced us to Jennifer, a motel owner down the street from Aurora Commons. Her voice was broadcasted to the Henry: she had provided a place for people in need for many years. She advised us that we all could be as strong as we needed to be, and then some. Water droplets fell from the eaves onto Catherine as she held her i-phone up to capture Jennifer’s story.

“The smallest thing can make a huge difference. And the biggest thing can make no difference at all”, she said. You could smile at a stranger. Or 99 dancers could move to that stranger’s story, in hopes of making a difference.

With a little over an hour left before the end of the charette, Rainbow danced in the abandoned lot as she listened to Jennifer’s story on headphones, while everyone stood around phone-filming to the sound of evening traffic. Someone approached us holding many full plastic bags. They walked by slowly, rounding the chainlink fence to peer down from a side street, lifting their arms in time to Rainbows’—then quietly moved on.

Pamanee’s suggestions:                                                                                                            You could use facetime to give live experience during area walk survey and performance.    You could promote this charette ahead to allow more people to join and prepare. I think there are more people who want to join them. Bring more collaboration– not just surprises.

Overall: We appreciate your creativity and effort! Great experiment to inspire the rest of us to test out different avenues for creative charette processes and new types of collaboration. Great job working with the time constraints.


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