ChitChat: Guerilla Placemaking, Poetry & Politics


I recently had the pleasure of attending ChitChat: Guerilla Placemaking, Poetry & Politics at the Gallery of Contemporary Art in downtown Colorado Springs. After attending the event, listening to both guest speakers, and taking furious notes, one can say it was nothing short of awe-inspiring.

“What exactly is ChitChat?” One might  find themselves asking.

“ChitChat is a series of mash-up talks on contemporary culture and DIY topics. Each program features two speakers, hands-on and participatory learning, and a whole lot of lively conversation. This program sparks diverse discussions on contemporary life—specifically in the Pikes Peak Region—and features some of the most interesting minds in Colorado Springs”

The ChitChat series and accompanying art exhibit is a series of events centered around Pollinate: A Biennial Arts festival centered around the idea of energy.

I was thrilled (and slightly socially anxious) to arrive at a full house of excited bodies and lively conversations, a stark difference from the hometown I recently left. That being said, it is definitely recommended to reserve your tickets in advance for seating!

Featured guest speakers included Mark Lakeman, of The City Repair Project out of Portland, Oregon. He is also the director of Sustainable Public Places for Portland, as well as a myriad of other neat projects and titles that I could not write down nearly fast enough.

Our second guest speaker was Mr. Art Goodtimes, San Migue County Commissioner, farmer, and published poet.

Did you know that America has the fewest community gathering spaces (parks, town squares, community centers, etc)- in the world? Public health is at an all time low. Why?

There’s a reason we travel to culturally stimulating and inspiring places, a vacation, a place to free the mind. Just, at the end of it all to return to the”daily grind”.

This is a national design crisis- a sense of place. We’re building the fabric of where we live, but we’re having trouble imagining it. What does this mean to us?

ask more questions

Placemaking is a multi-faceted approach to the planning, design and management of public spaces. Placemaking capitalizes on a local community’s assets, inspiration, and potential, with the intention of creating public spaces that promote people’s health, happiness, and well being. (Wikipedia)

Without a sense of place, we don’t practice stewardship culture. Without a sense of place, this can literally alter our destiny as creative problem solvers and intelligent human beings.

Public spaces 101: Where our pathways come together, and our lives converge- there should be a place for that!

Take a look at these modern-day neighborhoods in Africa:


Self-organizing, recursive design in African culture

They’re set up in the round, creating a public space for community members to gather, communicate, assist, and live together.

Before the mainstream use of automobiles in streets in America, and like the community pictured above, our streets were characterized by the play of children, marketplace activities, and cultural gatherings.

21st Century Urban America looks something like this:


Los Angeles, California

How can we create a sense of place? Within our communities, our lifestyles, and our relationships with others?

The key is to perpetuate restorative ideas, or ideas that help build, restore, and bring together, rather than take away. In public spaces- this is a landscape that supports your actions as a result of the people that live there having built it. Public places are born out of networks and relationships. People begin sharing skills and talents, and a community is formed. To build community, we can build culture, places to gather, and ephemeral events- such as this one.

What if streets became sacred spaces? A place where our lives converge, and community blossoms? Take a look at a glimpse of some of the work The City Repair Project out of Portland, Oregon accomplishes.  These sacred spaces are already being propagated within our communities across the country, and it can start with you.

Building Community from UO SOJC on Vimeo.

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Interested in public spaces, sacred spaces, and community-oriented business? Check out some of my articles from the past:

Eden Valley, Hidden Grove, and What it’s Like to Feel Awake.

Adventure Orange and on how the Cooperative Model of Business is Wonderful

Tremont Garden Getdown 2014

Mural @ Riverdale Elementary School



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