Courtney Surmanek

              

Photo Credits: Denise Civiletti



Dare to Imagine


Co-Organizer

Forging the world we want to live in requires social imagination, and the capacity to envision alternatives to what is, together remaking reality. What if instead of another holiday commemorating the past, we took time to envision and celebrate the future?

THE ACTION: From October 10-18, 2015, the people-powered U.S. Department of Arts and Culture, along with dozens of partner organizations, dispatched “Emissaries from the Future” to create pop-up Imagination Stations in public spaces nationwide. Through a range of creative activities, Emissaries engaged passersby in exercising social imagination, envisioning the world we wish to inhabit and—looking back from the future—celebrating the work we did to bring it into being. The resulting texts and images were all loaded to an online platform, yielding a crowd-sourced vision of the future, inspiring art, policy, and community action.

I supported the initial visioning of the U.S. Department of Arts and Culture in 2014. Connecting this national endeavor to my more local community organizing seemed like a natural fit. In partnership with Riverside Rediscovered, a crowd-sourced placemaking initiative, I worked to produce the Hamlet of Riverside’s first arts and cultural event which celebrated the clean up of a formerly abandoned and blighted plot of land utilized for drug deals and an underground brothel. Residents of Riverside and surrounding communities came together to enjoy an afternoon of music, poetry and art making, with a goal of imagining a better future for a community undergoing significant development.

RiverheadLOCAL wrote a great article on the event that you can check out here.