Placemaking Projects



Van Ness Social Club

The Van Ness Social Club is new-fashioned town square and social gathering where neighbors young and old can get to know each other. The Van Ness Main Street won a grant from AARP to create an intergenerational project that would improve the built environment and drive community engagement through placemaking. We created a conceptual social club centered around a new dance called the Van Ness Shuffle, which was choreographed by Sarah Oppenheim with information she gleaned from community meetings and research. We also created an engaging physical space filled with delightful furniture made by artists Joseph Orzal and James Cole to welcome residents of all ages to get to know each other in a fun and casual environment. The social club can pop up anywhere and anytime in the neighborhood.

Screen Shot 2017-09-11 at 4.30.59 PM.png

SW Sunday Supper

Every Sunday in August 2017, neighbors came together to meet someone new and get to know one another over a meal. Each supper began with an artistic engagement. Hand dancing lessons by a group that dances every Saturday at the nearby recreation center, poetry recitation, improv theater, and a community talent show. Local restaurants provided the food. All expenses were paid by the SW Business Improvement District and The Art Island collaborated on the production.

Screen Shot 2017-09-11 at 4.30.59 PM.png


On June 27, 1867, Reverend Richard Hall, pastor of Union Bethel Church (known today as Metropolitan A.M.E.), purchased lot number 5, Section 2 on Stanton Road, SE, the first one-acre lot sold in the new Freedmen’s community, but later renamed Hillsdale. For a down payment of $15.00 a purchaser was provided a wagon-load of lumber and instructions for building a “simple but good quality house.” Reverend Hall was a pioneer −  the 375-acre neighborhood, deeded to the Freedmen’s Bureau, gave newly freed African Americans the opportunity to own land and build their own homes. This self-sufficient community grew and thrived, eventually having its own school, recreation areas, post office, churches, cemeteries, and markets. 

If YOU Lived Here seeks to commemorate the founding of this community, and also to reflect on how we live today. Visitors will draw parallels between the past and the present through a series of interactive, tactile, and creative activities. 

Screen Shot 2017-09-11 at 4.30.59 PM.png


SEE / CHANGE is a video art installation that puts a human face on how population change and economic shifts affect neighborhoods and communities. The installation can be adapted to any neighborhood wishing to shine a light on its residents and to connect them to one another.

In its first iteration, video portraits of community members were projected in storefronts along Lower Georgia Avenue NW during one week in November 2016. Mobile projections took place on a different wall each night. A series of Interviews with residents telling their stories about the neighborhood were posted on Discussions, workshops, and gatherings were hosted in locations throughout the neighborhood.

Screen Shot 2017-09-11 at 4.30.59 PM.png
Screen Shot 2017-09-05 at 7.57.51 PM.png


Blueberries & Cherries invites politically diverse guests to break bread and talk to each other face-to-face over a home cooked meal. The goal: to understand the things that influence our votes and to find ways to bridge the vast ideological gap that plagues our country. We engage in civil discourse that is unfiltered by the lens of political punditry and by the anonymity and bias of social-media.