” Building Community in an Empty Tire Shop
NATE BERG. Aug 6, 2012
An empty tire shop in the vast parking lot of a fading suburban shopping mall wouldn’t seem like the sort of place to find a community. But community is just what a place like this needs, according to Jim Walker. He’s the executive director of Big Car, an artist-run collaborative in Indianapolis that’s focused on coupling arts projects with economic development efforts in parts of the city that are lacking both. His group – and a couple hundred local volunteers – have been steadily transforming an abandoned tire store in the Lafayette Square neighborhood into a living arts and community space.
Walker calls Big Car a “creative community development organization,” and argues that artistic efforts can also achieve economic development goals. That combination has been working.
Since its founding in 2004, Big Car has focused on creating spaces in the city where artists and community members can go to engage with the city and each other. They ran a similar community center in another part of town for years, but as the neighborhood gradually established itself as a commercially viable arts district, Walker took that as a sign to move to another area more in need of economic development.
Dubbed the Service Center for Contemporary Culture and Community, the old tire shop has been converted over the last year into a space for exhibitions and events, a library and computer lab, and co-working space. The most recent addition to the space is a huge vegetable garden in planter boxes built right on top of the asphalt outside. Bedecked with two of the 46 murals commissioned when the city hosted the Super Bowl earlier this year, the building has been transformed from an eyesore into an icon.
“We’re doing everything we can do to tweak the building into a more creative oasis in what’s sort of a desert of commercial blight,” Walker says.”
Via: The Atlantic Cities