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Where does creativity live? Can the highest level of cultural production come from down the street? What does it mean to be a good neighbor, a good steward? How does that look when there are so many forces at work keeping people isolated? How do you see value in what others discard? Can we learn to talk about moments of success in our struggling neighborhoods, not as random and magical, but as sophisticated flexibility? What is civic empathy?
These are some of the questions Place Lab, a University of Chicago partnership between Arts + Public Life and the Harris School for Public Policy, is exploring in an ongoing exercise: it’s the articulation of a set of nine principles collectively called Ethical Redevelopment.
Rooted in artist-led, neighborhood-based development work actively occurring on Chicago’s South Side, these evolving set of principles emerged from the work of artist and urban planner Theaster Gates, Jr. For more than a year, Place Lab has steeped itself in his projects and practices, and through documentation and implementation has supported the ongoing growth of the artist’s South Side cultural investments, such of Stony Island Arts Bank and the developing Arts Block at the University of Chicago. In addition to observing and participating in the work that Gates directs, Place Lab has compiled a series of interviews with individuals who have current or past roles in the work. These interviews included a diverse group of artists, collectors, arts administrators, community leaders, organizers, neighbors, funders, staff, personal and professional associates, enthusiastic advocates, early adoptees, believers, supporters and even skeptics. This catalogue of conversations, in tandem with the values espoused by Gates, have been distilled into our approach for mindful city building: Ethical Redevelopment. […]