The Black Lives Matter street mural recently painted on E. 93rd, the letters of which were designated to individual artists and students to decorate, could not have offered a timelier kickoff to "Elevate the East," a new public art initiative in Wards 4, 5 and 6.
Ward 6 councilman Blaine A. Griffin said, “This mural has had more impact than even I envisioned. My hope is that civic partners and funders join the Elevate the East project.”
Representing Ward 6 (which encompasses the East Side neighborhoods of Fairfax, Larchmere, Little Italy, Woodland Hills, and parts of Buckeye-Shaker, University Circle, North Broadway, Slavic Village and Union-Miles), Griffin is chairman of council's Health & Human Services Committee and sits on four other committees – Development, Planning & Sustainability, Finance, Workforce & Community Benefits and Operations.
“As the councilman of Ward 6, I know that cultural identity, neighborhood history and safe streets are priorities for our residents,” said Councilman Griffin. “Another priority is supporting our local artists.”
The public art plan, which will also be helmed by the Burten, Bell, Carr Development Corporation, aims to empower the community, giving residents a ‘seat at the table’ when choosing artists to represent the neighborhood.
Local resident of the East 93rd and Kinsmen Area, Myra Simmons sees the potential of the Elevate the East plan "to elevate our attitudes, you know, elevate our spirit…to bring some life into the place.”
This partnership will also be fostered by the city’s Metropolitan Housing Authority, which conducted a recent planning study including suggestions for improvements in neighborhood housing, public spaces and art investments for Woodhill Homes.
Part of this plan is to work with the neighborhood residents to memorialize community members who have been, “lost but not forgotten” according to the 134 page document entitled, “The 50 Actions to Elevate the East: A Guide for Connecting Art and People.”
The process of implementing these initiatives includes: 130 survey responses, 84 public meeting attendees, 40 focus group participants, 3 user experience (UX) walks, 350 community event conversations, and 29,054 social media impressions.
This study area includes: East 72nd St. bordering the Western portion, Mt. Overlook to the North, East 140th St. to the East and Kinsmen Ave. to the South but also includes an extension south to Union Ave. along the above-mentioned, East 93rd Street.
“I am confident that the steps taken during the planning phase will continue to advance in the right direction in the upcoming implemental phase," Griffin said in a release.
Read more about Elevate the East here.