Project partners win 2021 Excellence in Community Engagement Award from the Minnesota Chapter of the American Planning Association for work defining a community-driven vision for Rice Street
The teams at Forecast Public Art, Bolton & Menk, Inc., 4RM+ULA and Ramsey County are proud to announce their win of the 2021 Excellence in Community Engagement Award from the Minnesota Chapter of the American Planning Association.
Forecast’s staff are honored by the award and awed by the work of the local artists and Forecast consulting team members and partners. Bolton & Menk is honored by the recognition as part of this team effort, and how it aligns with their core goals of advancing safe, sustainable, and beautiful communities for everyone. And 4RM+ULA is inspired by watching Rice Street reach its potential based on authentic and impactful engagement. The partners are excited about the artist-led engagement projects and inclusive practices employed for this project. These methods invite and honor the full expression of people and place and will lead to a more representative redevelopment of Rice Street:
“I could not be prouder of our team, the artist liaisons, and our partners for their ability to forge ahead, adapt, innovate and find inspiring ways to uplift community voices during both a pandemic and local uprisings calling for racial justice. Because of their creativity, this redesign moves forward in a more equitable and inclusive way and will benefit generations to come.”
“We were excited by the opportunity to partner with Ramsey County and the team on this innovative project to create a holistic vision for corridor planning in a diverse urban community. Inclusive, equitable engagement has been a cornerstone of the whole effort. Particularly during this challenging time, we have really needed innovative thinkers and doers to connect creatively and effectively with people in the community, and to find ways to build local capacity and understanding.”
“Working in partnership with the dynamic teams from Forecast and Bolton & Menk has been a privilege for the 4RM+ULA team. It is incredible to be recognized by the Minnesota APA for doing the work necessary to benefit the community. Watching Rice Street reach its potential based on authentic and impactful engagement inspires us to continue our collaboration beyond this project to create vibrant corridors throughout the state.”
What is the Rice Street Visioning Project?
Forecast, Bolton & Menk, 4RM+ULA, and Ramsey County partnered to define a community- driven vision for Rice Street, between Pennsylvania and Wheelock Parkway, in Saint Paul, Minnesota. The Rice Street Visioning Project intends to promote economic growth and community investment while maintaining and providing business opportunities; create an inviting environment; enhancing pedestrian and bicyclist safety; maintaining and augmenting transit service; and continuing to increase vehicle safety. The current work is a continuation of the 2017 Rice Street Safety Study to better understand the community’s needs and goals in addition to the transportation system needs.
The project’s engagement team, with leadership from Forecast, brought together community artists with planners, engineers and architects. Fall 2019 to Fall 2020 were dedicated to community engagement and visioning along Rice Street. Forecast consultant Hawona Sullivan Janzen led the effort to recruit and hire community artist liaisons—Krista Beier, Melvin Giles, Kazua Melissa Vang, and Kyle Voigtlander—who developed engagement projects along the Rice Street corridor. They facilitated activities focused on creating relationships of mutual investment among community stakeholders; all who live, work or have a significant connection to the neighborhood were invited to meet the community liaisons, learn more about the project, and provide feedback.
“They gave away free plants, ice cream and gift certificates, rode around in a custom designed golf cart to engage with residents, and even designed a Rice Street Coloring Book for neighborhood kids. In the middle of a pandemic, they were still able to develop a series of engagements that made community members feel valued, respected, safe, and heard. That is something to be extremely proud of.”
From August to December 2020, the project team gathered feedback on specific tools that could be used to improve the project area. These tools were released in five separate topic groups: pedestrian and bicycle, transit, streetscape, vehicle traffic and neighborhood design improvements. Members of the public were given the opportunity to learn about each option and provide their feedback via an online survey. After these online topics were released, the project team held an open house in November to discuss results and share potential roadway design options.
In addition to the artist liaison activities, Forecast consulting team members Witt Siasoco, Hawona Sullivan Janzen, Bob Lunning, and Jen Krava held meetings with businesses along Rice Street and created activities for an in-person open house in Fall 2019.
The Rice Street Visioning Study is wrapping up in Spring 2022, at which point the project will transform into a preliminary and final design process for roadway reconstruction and related implementation.
What does community engagement do for public projects?
The project team spoke with community members at community festivals, open houses and meetings with community representatives at the Rice Street Library, Rice-Larpenteur Alliance, Rice Street Gardens, InProgress Art Gallery and Neighbor Works. Additionally, the team made numerous one-on-one connections with key community leaders and groups to better understand community needs and connect with people. Through these projects, the artists helped answer questions about who is using Rice Street, how they are using it, and what would make it a better place for everyone.
“When artists partner with engineers and planners, communities are more likely to engage with public projects and the work better reflects the diversity of voices and responds more effectively to their values and priorities.”
Who is Forecast Public Art
Forecast is a nonprofit organization that activates, inspires, and advocates for public art that advances justice, health, and human dignity.
A nonprofit organization founded in 1978, Forecast consults with decision-makers on public art and cultural planning efforts, community engagement efforts, developing best practices and processes, and helping to find, select, curate and commission public artists and artwork. We support public artists with funding, customized training, and opportunities to advance their public art careers. Forecast emphasizes access for BIPOC artists and groups that are traditionally excluded. As a national organization, Forecast’s team aims to set standards for ethical policies, processes, and outcomes in the field. To do this, our team recognizes the need to change power dynamics that have resulted in inequities within the organization, in the broader public art field, and as a result of previous work.
On the ground, this results in policies and initiatives aimed toward addressing inequity and serving the community through public art. In 2018, Forecast introduced a professional level training intensive for BIPOC arts administrators called GroundWork. Since 2019, Forecast has offered equity audits to identify inequities in public art collections. Our new Change Lab is designed to place a critical eye on nationwide public art policies, funding, and processes to understand their connection to and ability to challenge critical issues. In 2021, we launched a Change Lab Research Fellowship program designed to disrupt the status quo to advance justice in the public art field. Forecast is also known locally for its long-running public artist grant program for Minnesota-based artists.
Who is Bolton & Menk
Bolton & Menk believes all people should live in safe, sustainable, and beautiful communities and specializes in providing public infrastructure solutions to make that happen.
Our commitment to communities began in 1949 with two hard working Midwesterners—John Bolton and Martin Menk. They saw people in their surrounding communities who had dreams of a bright future, a desire to grow, and a common challenge of aging infrastructure. John and Martin’s goal was to help communities make progress by listening to what people want, finding the best solutions for their needs, and treating them right. Their legacy lives on. We still want to help, we work hard every day, and we always remember what got us here—we’re people helping people. Today, Bolton & Menk has more than 700 employees including a professional staff of more than 250 engineers, planners, landscape architects, and surveyors.
We take care of our clients by providing the best services and solutions for them. From advocating for our communities to designing their dreams to finding funding; we take pride in our work because we live in these same communities. We believe in the power of face-to-face meetings, friendly conversations, and collaborative decision-making to keep your projects on schedule, within budget, and focused on real, workable solutions.
Who is 4RM+ULA
It is 4RM+ULA’s mission to: Re-imagine our cities and neighborhoods with dynamic, forward vision; Re-unite architecture with art; Design spaces that respond to their climate, community, and context; Create high-quality architecture in underrepresented communities, traditionally underserved by design professionals.
4RM+ULA is a diverse team of change-agents, dedicated to providing unexpected, client-centric solutions that challenge the status quo. We believe in artfully tailoring each client’s vision with resilient, technologically advanced architecture.
Founded in 2002, 4RM+ULA is a full-service architectural design firm that specializes in connecting communities through transit and aviation design, transit-oriented development, as well as community-focused, urban infill redevelopment projects.
For more information + press quotes please contact:
Theresa Sweetland, Director, Forecast Public Art; firstname.lastname@example.org
Haila Maze, AICP Principal Planner, Bolton & Menk, Inc.; email@example.com
For photos please contact:
Jen Dolen, Content and Communications Manager; firstname.lastname@example.org
Learn more about strengthening public projects with community engagement: “Strengthening your next community engagement project.” Written by Jen Krava, Forecast’s Director of Programming, this article featured in Arts Midwest Ideas Hub outlines a comprehensive approach to community engagement.