Family at work

Rockland, MA

Contact Name
Carolyn Lewenberg
Project Dates
January - October 2018
Workshop Leader
Creative Communities Exchange (CCX) 2019
Placemaking/placekeeping, Downtown preservation/main streets
Working with the REiMAGINE ROCKLAND Arts & Culture Subcommittee and an Advisory Committee made up of local residents and representatives, a team from the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) developed a creative placemaking demonstration project concept inspired by Rockland’s history as a center of shoe manufacturing. This project celebrated its flourishing community of artists who are transforming the town’s old factories into art studios and creative businesses. Engaging residents at the 2018 Rockland Farmers Market through an art-making activity and conversations about their favorite places in Rockland, the project generated temporary public art in the form of sidewalk paintings as well as data to inform a long-term creative placemaking strategy and upcoming planning initiatives.
Project Goals
What were the specific goals of this creative economy project? Describe the community development challenge or opportunity that your project was designed to address:
Based on conversations with the Town of Rockland and input from the Advisory Committee, the MAPC team established five goals for the Creative Placemaking Demonstration Project Concept and Strategy:

- Identify areas of strength and areas of opportunity for creative placemaking within downtown Rockland.
- Implement a fully developed creative placemaking project, working collaboratively with local artists, Union St. businesses, and town staff.
- Enhance the transformation of Rockland by integrating arts and culture into Downtown Rockland’s revitalization.
- Engage artists, residents, and business owners in a collaborative process that leads to artistic products with broad community-support and wide-spread appeal to support reaching fundraising goals.
- Change the public perception of downtown Rockland by increasing visibility of art along the Union Street corridor.
Who was involved in this project and what did they do? (be sure to include the partners from outside of the creative sector and how local voices were included):
Key players:
- Marcy Birmingham - Project Coordinator, Town of Rockland
- Mike Mullen - Selectman, Town of Rockland
- Dave Taylor - Highway Superintendent
- Pat Foley - Library Trustee and Downtown Resident - support with community connections
- Christine Flaherty - REiMAGINE ROCKLAND - outreach
- Megan Murphy - REiMAGINE ROCKLAND - outreach
- Cheryl Thompson - Rockland High School Art Teacher - connected us to work with students to paint stencils on the sidewalks
- Andy Healey - Rice Building Owner - we hung art in the vacant storefront windows

Meeting hosts:
- Peggy Bryan - Senior Center Director
- Alan Curtis - Owner Sandpaper Factory - artist and creative entrepreneur spaces

Advisory support:
- Vinnie Fountaine - Rockland Veterans Agent
- Jeanne Blaney - Rockland Youth Commission Director, administrative support
- Janet Cann - Library Trustee and Downtown Resident
- Robin Cook Hill - Rockland Day Committee Vice Chair, Farmers Market Manager and Downtown Resident
- Erik Dykemann - South Shore Chamber of Commerce Community Relations
- Linda Downer - Christian Science Reading Room
- Jim Paul - Rockland Historical Commission
- Megan Fountaine - Rockland Resident
- Neia Callahan - Rockland Public School's Portuguese translator
- Beverly Brown - Rockland Public Library - had an event on the front lawn of the library
- John Cheney - Friends of the Library, Rockland Cultural Council

Artists who supported the project:
- Shi Shi McGann - President 4th floor artists
- Mary Wyman - local artist
- Donna Roine - 4th floor artist and Rockland Resident
- Heather Dunham - Special Ed Teacher, Rockland Resident, artist
- Jan Yeh - Cohasset Resident, had “Presidential” studio space
- Joan Dalto - teaches drawing lessons to youth in her studio, on the Rockland Cultural Council

Businesses who supported the project:
- Megan Dunphy - MountainOne Bank Manager and Rockland Resident
- Paul Sneyd - downtown business owner
- Barbara Wahlstrom - South Shore Hospital Foundation Staff member and Rockland Resident
- Heather Weydt - Rockland Trust Vice President and Rockland Branch Manager
How does this project relate to a larger community development strategy?
The town received a Massachusetts Downtown Initiative grant last spring, which is helping to fund REiMAGINE ROCKLAND’s efforts. The Massachusetts Downtown Initiative is a division of the Department of Housing and Community Development that offers assistance to cities and towns looking revitalize their communities’ downtowns. It addresses the economic and community development needs of the towns it works with while also providing a framework that promote positive change to keep the downtowns healthy and successful.

The mission of REiMAGINE ROCKLAND is to create a bustling, inclusive and prosperous downtown, on and around the Union Street corridor. Other programs initiated by REiMAGINE ROCKLAND’ also include the clean-up and beautification of Union Street, the development of a diverse commercial area and various community activities on Union Street.
Project Specifics
Please list the steps taken to implement the project:
MAPC convened an Advisory Committee made up of artists, active residents and representatives from the REiMAGINE ROCKLAND Committee to guide the project concept. MAPC Artist-in-Residence and staff introduced the Committee to Creative Placemaking practice, presented inspiring examples and facilitated conversations to establish goals and outcomes for the project and identify core values.

Based on the input from the Advisory Committee, background research and site visits, MAPC developed and presented a temporary creative placemaking concept to be executed in summer 2018.

Then the team worked with core volunteers from the Town of Rockland and REiMAGINE ROCKLAND to launch a crowd-funding campaign to raise awareness, support, and funding for the project.

After successfully meeting our crowd-funding targets, MAPC Artist-in-Residence Carolyn Lewenberg teamed up with Wood Wizard Tim Lorenzo to build a custom-made engagement cart designed to evoke a shoe-shine stand.

Staff and volunteers engaged Rockland residents at the shoe-cart at four farmers markets in July and August.

After completion of the art-based engagement, MAPC Staff scanned the artwork, analyzed the data and identified locations for shoeprint stencils. They commissioned stencil fabrication from Primary Graphics Corporation and coordinated with the Rockland High School Art Department and Rockland Art Teacher Cheryl Thompson to paint the stencils.

Union Street property owner Andy Heley offered to provide a vacant storefront window in the Rice Building in Union Street to exhibit the original shoe print paintings and information about the project. Design staff at MAPC designed and printed a map and brochure to highlight downtown Union Street and the sidewalk paintings.

A final event featuring food, a speaking program and a walking tour closed out the creative placemaking activities. A meeting among the project leaders and volunteers finalized a plan for maintenance of the paintings and ownership of the shoe cart and materials, which were transferred to the Town for future use.
If the project steps changed over time, please describe how:
The MAPC project team designed Sole of Rockland as a vehicle to generate ideas for additional creative placemaking work and a permanent creative placemaking project concept. A reduction in staff capacity during the project resulted in a de-emphasis on developing permanent placemaking concepts.
What were your major obstacles for the completion of the project?
Reduction of staff capacity partway through the project.
Who or what was instrumental in overcoming these obstacles?
Key volunteers from REiMAGINE ROCKLAND stepped up, as well as Selectman Mike Mullen.
What top three suggestions would you give to others attempting a similar project?
1. Working with schools engages a population that is reflective of the demographics of the community. Self selected residents who participate in creative placemaking efforts often do not reflect the diversity of a community.

2. Focus engagement activities in the Spring and Fall. Many artists we had hoped to engage went away during the summer months. Winter weather scares some people away from participating in outdoor activities.

3. Plan engagement activities when other things are going on. For example, we were painting outside when school got out so lots of students were walking by us and wanted to know what was going on and they got excited and wanted to get involved.
Project Impact
How has this project strategically connected arts and cultural activities to social, economic, and cultural issues in your community? What is different in your community as a result of this project?
The Town of Rockland has committed to maintaining the project and building on new partnerships and connections made through the work:
- A volunteer will be in charge of periodically updating the sidewalk art and ensure maintenance through the fall.
- The Town will keep the multi-purpose custom built engagement cart, which they will be integrate into community events such as the Holiday Stroll and High School Art Festival. The cart will also serve as a display area for the art created at the Sandpaper Factory and Youth Commission buildings.
- Through Sole of Rockland, REiMAGINE ROCKLAND established a connection with the high school students and the 4th Floor Artists – the High School Art Teacher reached out about using art cart as part of their Arts Festival in April, 2019 with the 4th Floor Artists
- Journalism students from the High School covered the story of making the footprints.
- The project generated ideas for more street art downtown with the high school art program.
Why do you consider the project successful, as related to your project goals above?
The partnership with the Rockland High School Art Department were incredibly productive. The students were engaged and interested in making art in the public realm, brought their creativity and ideas, and came prepared to work. Cheryl Thompson, the Rockland High School Art Teacher, teaches a unit on graffiti and street art. This curriculum could be a vehicle for developing further student-led public art projects to transform Union Street into an artistic center.

MAPC’s partners in Rockland felt that the effort represented a small but important proof that they are working to make positive changes in the town and helped boost morale for the REiMAGINE ROCKLAND effort during a period of leadership turmoil in the town. The impact on outlook was reflected in the reactions to a developer walk-through along Union Street in the fall after the installation of the art. Over thirty developers participated. Whereas in the past, developers have dismissed Rockland as an opportunity area, this time they saw more potential. They noticed the paintings hanging in the Rice Building and the sidewalk art. For the developers, the sidewalk paintings represented positive potential in the town center.
How did you measure this success or progress?
- Development of relationships between the school and REiMAGINE ROCKLAND
- Storefronts becoming more occupied
- Positive changing attitudes towards arts and culture by local elected officials - going from not understanding how the arts can make a positive impact towards being strong proponents of the arts as a great strategy to make a positive impact.
- Data collected during armaking activities: From July 13th through August 3rd, MAPC staff and volunteers set up a tent and creative engagement cart modeled after a shoe-shine stand at the Rockland Farmers Market on the Town Hall Plaza. Five volunteers joined MAPC staff at the cart and participants painted over seventy-five original artworks based on Artist in Resident Carolyn Lewenberg’s watercolor technique. The activity engaged fifty (50) participants who had not previously engaged in the project. Sixty-eight (68) participants total identified one or more favorite places in Rockland. These were recorded with a pin on a map and written in pencil on each painting.
Please describe any unexpected impacts:
There is a lot of ideas from the town as to how to use the Shoe Cart going forward and to integrate it into local events and activities. This includes:
o Integrate shoe cart into engagement for master plan
o Create opportunities for residents to program the shoe cart
o Transition responsibility for shoe cart and art activities to public art committee under REiMAGINE ROCKLAND organizational structure.
CCX Workshop Handout
Sole of Rockland (970.94 KB)