an opening for émergence

In harder times, art becomes more valuable, and people appreciate even more what creativity is all about. Essentially, art is about being free to think, make, change, do, react, reflect and unfold in ways that transport and expand a state of being. Cities that have strong artistic communities tend to fare well in times of recession because they already have an economy that is built into their cultural fibre; perhaps because it is an economy of ingenuity. Bartering and alternative forms of exchange are included in this phenomenon. Freedom from conventional economy emerges when barter is allowed, when exchange of goods and resources happen organically.

City living is in need of a radical shift of values. Most artists and entrepreneurs live in the low income range. To have a good life in hard times is when art-making and creative solutions become important. People want to be near where the artists are. Life is simply more interesting. As developers come in to build their upscale condos, the original community starts to get squeezed out. What happens when we come together to work and imagine new ways of revitalizing urban spaces? Creative thinking is the most revolutionary act. We must demand to participate as cells in the collective of our creature. No matter how small or large, our actions affect the whole.

It is now back to basics. When we strip down to the bare necessities and rely on essentials, we re-attune to the vibrancy of life. It is a gift to be simple and free. As we gather, interact and work together, we need creative solutions. The time is urgent to realize we can no longer rely on overconsumption and false need. We have our ability to relate to others, and this involves sharing our resources via our skills, our labour or through barter. As we let go of amassing for individual self-sufficiency, we turn toward collectivity, an essential for the future of thriving cities.

We are a part of many histories and customs. We are also at a critical juncture; a point of identity crisis. Worldwide, we are beginning to shift our values, learning to respect resources that were once infinite. We will learn the value of imagination, the beauty of re-envisioning our cities and impacting decision makers. We are all going to need to use our voices, and we will need to use them together. We will celebrate their unison and we will wrestle with their discord. We are breathing in new life, re-invigorating old paradigms that no longer serve our needs. We are humanizing and inhabiting the spaces that surround us. The parking lots, the fields, the railway yards, the streets, the rooftops, the community gardens, the music studios, the abandoned buildings and edges of town that are steeped in life and calling us out of our boxes. Lot number 2334609 is such a place.

Emily Rose Michaud

Emily Rose Michaud is an artist and activist working at the intersections of community development, civic participation, and urban ecology. In recent years, her experimental, participatory, and socially driven approach has resulted in a series of performances incorporating living ‘sproutfits’, a guerilla gardener’s ensemble, an electronic book designed to be reproduced and remixed by others, and the Roerich Garden Project, a three-year land art project in a post-industrial railyard turned urban meadow.

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