During Earth Week, several Santa Ana artists and residents performed demonstration projects to help inspire Downtown Santa Ana's parks to be activated with more programming and use.
The projects were inspired by a global call for placemakers called Placemake Earth Challenge which is meant to engage locals with their parks through activations to catalyze further usage.
While the local action may seem simple, the aggregate of many people coming together around the world to improve their parks is impactful. Furthermore, these types of 'placemaking' activities are intertwined with some of the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals for how humanity can maintain its urban existence going forward.
So, what happened locally? Downtown Inc helped organize participation by offering $1,000 microgrants. Grant recipients included Downtown Neighborhood resident leader Denise Reynoso, artists Roger Eyes R., Priscila Hernandez and AvantGarden Gallery.
Denise Reynoso showed up with her family to Birch Park to lead a recycled-materials art project. She was surprised to find that the park was locked during hours it should've been opened on Earth Day weekend. The park recently had a large, black fence installed around the park to prevent homeless from using the park. The good news is that Denise's action prompted a conversation with the City of Santa Ana Parks and Recreation Department to ensure the park is opened during open hours. It also further demonstrated to the City the stewardship and desire for more programming and activation in the park.
Another exciting took place a block away, where Laura Robinson from AvantGarden Gallery creatively used another fence that runs along Broadway as an outdoor art gallery. Robinson had attempted this guerilla gallery a few months prior for a Black History exhibit. This time, she added outdoor seating and an interactive mural at the recommendations of an international cohort who helped inspire and learn from the Santaneros on their project ideas.
It's exciting to see what locals can come up with when resources and permissions are easily granted for them to experiment with the fabric of the city. Downtown Inc hosts periodic calls for participation through our innovations website, StartupSantaAna.org.
Story by Ryan Smolar
Photos by Denise Reynoso and Laura Robinson
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