News Windham Regional Commission to Receive NEA Grant
Partnership with Marlboro College’s Center for Creative Solutions will help with Tropical Storm Irene recovery
Marlboro, Vermont–(May 10, 2013)–Windham Regional Commission (WRC), working in collaboration with Marlboro College’s Center for Creative Studies (CCS), is one of 817 nonprofit organizations nationwide to receive an Art Works grant from the National Endowment of the Arts. WRC will be awarded a $40,000 grant to support a creative planning process with the town of Londonderry, a Vermont town struggling to rebuild and heal from staggering losses incurred by Tropical Storm Irene.
“Many of our towns have been dealing with public infrastructure recovery and haven’t had the time or resources to focus on long-term development and resiliency planning,” Windham Regional Commission Associate Director Susan McMahon said. The planning process proposed with the Center for Creative Solutions, a program of Marlboro College’s Center for Graduate and Professional Studies, will be inclusive. Participants in a six-day workshop will engage Londonderry residents to explore options for a community space and place that creatively conserves the floodplain and protects the historic village center from future flooding.
Distinguished artists Liz Lerman and Michael Singer, joined by expert practitioners in multiple disciplines, will facilitate the studio-style workshop, titled After the Flood: Regenerative Design, Renewal, Resilience. The CCS workshop will provide a unique, participatory learning experience designed for early and mid-career professionals, postgraduates and qualified advanced undergraduates. Their planning process will involve systems thinking, questioning assumptions, and reframing the issue from interdisciplinary perspectives to open up new thinking and possibilities. After the Flood: Regenerative Design, Renewal, Resilience will be held August 4–10, 2013.
“We are grateful to the NEA for recognizing the role of the arts in planning design improvements to Vermont’s infrastructure and community spaces,” said Marlboro College President Ellen McCulloch-Lovell. “The creative ideas that emerge from the CCS workshop in Londonderry, as well as the process itself, may become a precedent for other flood-stricken towns in the region and beyond.”
Marlboro College, in Marlboro, Vermont, was cut off from the rest of the region for a week after Tropical Storm Irene, but was spared the long-term damage to infrastructure suffered by many other towns in the region. Students, staff and faculty volunteered for clean up efforts in the area, and a class the following spring semester focused on community service in the rebuilding of neighboring Wilmington—the college continues this regional support through the CSS workshop.
For the Londonderry workshop, an interdisciplinary team of expert practitioners will work collaboratively with community stakeholders and workshop participants. Liz Lerman, the renowned choreographer and educator, and Richard Rabinowitz, a leading public historian, will engage the community and participants in the creative process of bridging community values, memory, and sense of place with ideas for regenerating the floodplain and creating a community space and place.
Jono Neiger, pioneer permaculture and regenerative landscape designer, and Calen Colby, innovative and dynamic civil and structural engineer will collaborate with participants in reimagining the floodplain from the perspective of productive conservation, permaculture, regenerative design and sound engineering. Integration and facilitation of the collaborative design process will be led by Michael Singer, an internationally recognized artist and designer, and a core team of planners and environmental designers, Susan McMahon, Jason Bregman and Jonathan Fogelson.
In the absence of county government, the Windham Region Commission provides the essential link between local, state and federal government. A public entity, constituted by law and required to meet statutory obligations, the Windham Region Commission is an important resource to the 27 towns of the Windham Region in Windham, Windsor, and Bennington counties. Its mission is to assist towns in Southeastern Vermont to provide effective local government and work cooperatively with them to address regional issues. Towns choose to be members of the WRC.
About Marlboro College:
With locations in the foothills of Vermont’s Green Mountains and downtown Brattleboro, Marlboro College provides independent thinkers with exceptional opportunities to broaden their intellectual horizons, benefit from a small and close-knit learning community, create a strong framework for personal and career fulfillment, and make a positive difference in the world. At the undergraduate campus, founded in 1946 in the town of Marlboro, and our Center for Graduate and Professional Studies in Brattleboro, students engage in deep exploration of their interests – and discover new avenues for using their skills to benefit themselves and others – in an atmosphere that emphasizes critical and creative thinking, independence, social justice, sustainability, and community.
About the Center for Creative Solutions:
The Center for Creative Solutions brings together experts from multiple fields and community stakeholders to find solutions to challenging issues facing cities and towns in urban, rural and suburban settings. The CCS collaborative process involves looking at a problem systemically, provocative questioning of assumptions and reframing the issue from an interdisciplinary vantage point to open up new thinking. Immersive, studio-style workshops provide a learning experience for post-graduates and working professionals that is interdisciplinary, collaborative, socially engaged and ultimately creative.
About NEA Art Works Grants:
In August 2012, the NEA received 1,547 eligible applications for Art Works grants requesting more than $80 million in funding. Art Works grants support the creation of art that meets the highest standards of excellence, public engagement with diverse and excellent art, lifelong learning in the arts, and the strengthening of communities through the arts. The 817 recommended NEA grants total $26.3 million and span 13 artistic disciplines and fields. Applications were reviewed by panels of outside experts convened by NEA staff and each project was judged on its artistic excellence and artistic merit.