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Expert on main streets to speak on downtown revitalization in Syracuse

March 24, 2010

Jemeli Tanui
(315) 443-5172

Columbia University professor Mindy Fullilove—whose work includes studying 100 main streets in the United States, France and Japan—will present a talk titled “Just Design and the Future of Main Street” Thursday, April 15, at 7 p.m. in The Warehouse Auditorium at 350 W. Fayette St. in downtown Syracuse. The event is free and open to the public.

Fullilove’s visit is the second conversation hosted by Art-in-Motion, a project of Imagining America (IA), Open Hand Theater and Syracuse Stage that features four public conversations and a large, participatory performance centered on activating the arts and stimulating urban redevelopment in Syracuse. The first conversation, held March 3, featured renowned multimedia artist Barnaby Evans, creator of the world-famous WaterFire installation in Providence, RI.

Fullilove, who is a professor of clinical psychiatry and public health at Columbia University, will discuss how downtowns become places that people want to come to. She will emphasize the capacity of design to be not just beautiful but also to move people closer to an open and democratic society in which everyone participates in decision making about the future.

“Mindy is a perfect follow-up to Barnaby Evans, who presented one amazing art project in Providence. Mindy will explain what else has to be in place for art to contribute to the revitalization of downtowns,” says Jan Cohen-Cruz, IA director and University Professor at Syracuse University.

Fullilove will make two other appearances that are also free and open to the public.

She will meet with Syracuse Latina/o residents, and SU students Wednesday, April 14, at 5:30 p.m. in the city’s Near Westside neighborhood. The neighborhood visit will be facilitated by La Casita Cultural Center Project, an SU Chancellor’s Leadership Project that works to build bridges of communication, collaboration and exchange between the University and the Latina/o population of the city. “As a community that has long experienced levels of economic and social disempowerment, Syracuse Latinos and Latinas and neighbors of the Near Westside will find great relevance in Dr. Fullilove’s work and words,” says Inmaculada Lara-Bonilla, assistant professor in SU’s College of Arts and Sciences and La Casita Cultural Center project coordinator.

Democratizing Knowledge (DK)—a Chancellor’s Leadership Project working to make SU a more progressive and inclusive intellectual campus—will host a lunch and conversation about the politics that drive Fullilove’s work on Thursday, April 15, at 12:15 p.m. in the SU Humanities Center, Room 304 in the Tolley Humanities Building. “Dr. Fullilove’s public health work with communities of all kinds demonstrates the ethics, the politics and the challenges of communicating across divides of knowledge and privilege, topics central to the DK project, and we look forward to this informal conversation with her,” says Margaret Himley, professor of writing and rhetoric, and co-director of the LGBT studies program and minor.

This will be Fullilove’s second talk in Syracuse. She visited last year to discuss the impact of urban renewal on the city’s 15th Ward, the neighborhood that used to exist under the I-81 overpass.

“Mindy’s work reminds us that urban spaces are not just questions of geography or architecture but are also psychological places filled with memory and meaning. Efforts to revitalize and redefine Syracuse’s downtown need to take account of the neighborhoods that were there before urban renewal transformed our city,” says Kendall Phillips, associate dean of research and graduate studies, and also professor and chair of the Department of Communication and Rhetorical Studies in SU’s College of Visual and Performing Arts.

For more information or to R.S.V.P. for The Warehouse event, e-mail  or call (315) 443-8590. To R.S.V.P. for the DK lunch, contact Griselda Rodriguez at To R.S.V.P. for the La Casita event, contact Lara-Bonilla at  

For more information on Fullilove’s work, visit Follow Art-in-Motion’s progress and news on Facebook at!/pages/Syracuse-NY/Art-in-Motion/300620807427.  

Art-in-Motion grand finale
In September 2010, these conversations will culminate in Art-in-Motion: A Citywide Performance, a large-scale street show starring Syracuse residents, staff from Open Hand Theater and Syracuse Stage, and SU students, produced in partnership with SU’s Office of the University Arts Presenter. Open Hand Theater’s Geoff Navias and Syracuse Stage’s Lauren Unbekant will work with different city neighborhoods over the next few months, developing and creating the puppet and theatrical scenes. The final two conversations in the series will take place the same weekend as the performance. SU students, through the College of Visual and Performing Arts Drama Department’s “Art in Action” course, will assist and participate while learning about the community. Funding for the public conversations comes from a New York Council for the Humanities (NYCH) grant. Funding for the final collaborative performance comes from a Chancellor’s Leadership Project grant, initiated by SU Chancellor and President Nancy Cantor.

Art-in-Motion’s collaborators
Imagining America is a national consortium of more than 80 colleges and universities committed to public scholarship in the arts, humanities, and design currently hosted by SU. Open Hand Theater is a Syracuse-based museum and professional theater company that celebrates the human experience through mask and puppet traditions. Syracuse Stage creates new work and fresh interpretations of classics, and is committed to enhancing the cultural richness of Central New York and the vitality of theatre itself. The SU Arts Presenter Office brings renowned artists to SU and Syracuse, supporting the formation of connections between art, academia and the community to enhance the transformation of the Central New York region.

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