Crossing the Street launched in early 2016 with a focus on creating fun and inclusive experiences in neighborhoods across the city. The projects were designed to build community in areas that are experiencing rapid change, using arts and culture to activate space, foster conversation and collaboration and highlight and support existing neighborhood assets. Each project used arts and culture to build the social capital in communities where projects were implemented.
The DC Office of Planning received a grant from the Kresge Foundation to undertake creative placemaking and civic engagement activities, which built upon recently completed work in planning, design, community engagement, and equity. Each project was led by a project curator, encouraged from the outset to think differently about place and how to engage community. The neighborhood projects followed a similar overall process but with customization to the community context and people. The diversity of communities, curators and planning contexts yielded a range of approaches with a timeframe ranging from a single day to over a month. Each project showcased the use of different types of community infrastructure (ranging from a small park to a wide sidewalk to an entire corridor), community culture and heritage (i.e., Latino, Ethiopian and African American), and design and programming (ranging from hammocks to tea ceremonies to storytelling).
Crossing the Street applied an arts and cultureforward approach to engaging communities in the future of the District of Columbia. Crossing the Street provided a platform for the DC Office of Planning to reimagine how they engage community and plan by creating moments and experiences that connect people, inspire action and creativity and celebrate the unique and important aspects of neighborhoods.