Sunday, March 16, 2014

Placemaking and social entrepreneurship in Dubai

Creative Place making is an aspect of making places that uses art and culture in order to promote community engagement in urban space programs - connecting its different social groups and revitalize it . So, in this post, I want to take you into my journey to discover how creative Place making is unraveling through grass roots community initiatives and most importantly how it gives a quick sketch of social entrepreneurship in Dubai .

The journey will take three stops; the archives, the screening of a movie and the presentation of an artist.
First, The Archives has been an endeavour carried out by two entrepreneurship enthusiasts who wanted to provide for young artists ,entrepreneurs and the wider community a space to network, work and present and specially read about art . They chose a rundown facility in SAFA Park and transform it into this thriving hub. The space became a gate to a wider array of spaces -be it reading a book about Moroccan architecture, working on your computer on a new poster for an event somewhere or attending the events that this blog is describing.The capability of the space to open up mentally, emotionally and spatially is echoed by its transparent architecture where culture (symbolised by books) is the tangible aspect within light . Safa Park fifth and fourth gate became redefined from gates to the park to gates to this space of art,culture or even just reflection.
Second, I was invited by Rana Askoul – founder of changing Pink to attend the screening of Girls rising movie at the Archives Dubai. The invitation touched different spots in my consciousness; it was about education for girls, run by a local based women empowerment platform in a space designed and managed by entrepreneurs. This event epitomizes for me creative Place making through grass roots activities in many aspects through using ''The archives'' open architectural space in order to insert a community awareness event.
Changing pink launched by Rana Askoul is an ambitious initiative on empowering women in the corporate environment .It has dedicated an online interface on connecting established female role models in UAE community with the budding young female entering the market ;even the space of the internet becomes a medium to further expand our reach.As an entrepreneur, it aroused my curiosity the linkages this platform has established with internationally recognized charity institutions through the holistic view it has presented on our engagement on women’s day – Read , watch, empower, write. This multi-dimensional view on how a social event shared globally can be tackled locally is of interest to many entrepreneurs who works on an idea inspired by a local problem and reaches a point where the solution touches the Globe. This takes me to the third aspect- art,movies and social causes.
The screening of girls rising in a women day in a park was run within The silence and the peace one finds in a natural setting ;This brought more emphasis to the individual struggles of each of the girls who appeared in the movies; a struggle for a basic need – Education within environment hot by hunger, war,racism,poverty,ignorance. The movies as an art form dedicated to a human cause was interesting for it has dedicated for each of the girls, a female writer who can present her story and an actor who would give her a voice; the human tones of the voices and the mis -en-relief of the writers enveloped the still space of the archives and impressed points of awareness .Again, write, read and talk becomes an artistic experience blending within the settings of the archives. That experience at that moment, for me , was the optimal hands on personal understanding of what creative Placemaking is – Art ,Community, well being and humanity connected with a point in space and time and transcending the local space (archives)and the local time (Dubai ) to embrace all of us as humans living on earth .
I also attended Sustainability and capacity building presentation by internationally acclaimed artist Samar jodha brought by Promise Of A Generation -a platform for discussion and action which facilitates a candid exchange of ideas, experiences and concerns in order to fulfill the promise of a generation to improve our world.I was expecting the presentation of multiple black and white photographs depicting the lives of the threatened local communities in India. As I walked towards the archives, I saw a glimpse of a container photo on the screen. Samar has chosen to show us in a space-time experience his installations. So, he took us through three short movies- Bhopal installation, Outpost and express and aspire. Samar is an entrepreneur like us and his expression is based on the mediums of photography and films to raise awareness on the issues of intrusive development and conservation. The movies carried in them a silence broken by acute sounds as if the sounds are ways to wake us up; he always chose the sounds of the environment he wanted to take us through. In Bhopal, it was the sounds of the chemical alarms, in Outpost, it was the sounds of drops of rain on the metallic structures of the community he was portraying and in Express and aspires, and it was the sounds of the children. Sounds here became a medium to connecting us to the places he is actively involved in sustaining them through his installations. His other medium was metal ;whether printing on them or sculpting them, the forms in which metals was used to portray the human condition made us as human to be aware of the immensity of pain one feels when his own community is threatened. That is what an entrepreneur would want at the end; using a medium of presentation-visuals, movies, 3D models, prototype, reports even blogs- to take people through his thinking process into the human dimension that unites all of us and then working actively to sculpt and transform this medium as if it becomes the concept similarly to what Steve Jobs did with his IPAD - it is the thin and simple design that embodies the simple and user friendly interface of its systems.
In these three expressions of entrepreneurship, I found out that what we define as social entrepreneurs are colleagues, friends and fellow artists who are trying to raise us above our local differences into the realm of the human that we all share .In that scope, Social entrepreneurship uses creative Placemaking strategies to transport us from the local point of space to the global space of flows .Its ability to transport us depends also on the attributes of the space that we are in. Without the existence of ''the archives'' , I would not be writing this blog and without social entrepreneurs , you would not be interested in reading how as humans ,we entrepreneurs from all walks of life and industries , are all connected ……


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