Do-ference
Late last month, the Savannah College of Art and Design held an intensive three-day workshop--a so-called "do-ference"--aimed at brainstorming design ideas for Savannah's downtrodden Waters Avenue.
Do-ference
The workshop gathered design students, Waters Avenue residents, community leaders, city officials, and design thinkers from outside of town. The goal wasn't to forge one grand solution to the community's problems, but rather to empower residents to exploit the assets they have.
Waters Avenue
The workshop started with a tour of Waters Avenue.
Waters Avenue
Larry "Gator" Rivers, a former Harlem globetrotter who's active in the Waters Avenue community, leads a discussion on the tour.
Waters Avenue
Gator with a local resident. The Waters Avenue neighborhood has a high homeownership rate, but many of the modest single-family homes adjoin boarded-up buildings.
Waters Avenue
A chalk wall along Waters Avenue invites community members to share what they'd like to do before they die.
Harambee Farms
After the tour, everyone split up into groups to tackle different design problems. Here, a student works on promotional materials for the nonprofit Harambee House, which runs Harambee Farms, an urban fruit and vegetable garden.
Harambee Farms
A stencil for Harambee Farms.
Harambee Farms
Junior graphic-design student Danielle Raynal at work on the Harambee House project.
Play time
It wasn't all hard work and no play. Here, Gator shows off some of his Globetrotter tricks.
Planter sculptures
Jerome Meadows, an artist who lives on Waters Avenue, has started working with students to build temporary, interactive sculptures in concrete planters in front of his studio.
Planter sculptures
This sculpture has quotes from community leaders etched onto water droplet-shaped ornaments. Passers-by are invited to take smaller droplets home with them (see next slide).
Planter sculptures
Meadows believes a thriving arts community is key to reviving Waters Avenue. “When you see the model of SoHo for example in New York City, it wasn’t Target or something like that that came in and turned SoHo around,” he says. “It was artists that were willing to come into some pretty funky spaces and create energy, create buzz."
Planter sculptures
He goes on: "In my mind, if you can do some things to artistically make the area wake up, make people take notice, the businesses are perhaps a bit more inclined to come in, because you already have begun to draw customers they’re going to rely upon.”