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Monticello Road is a community arts project in Charlottesville, Virginia. Through photography and a series of public events, we explore how an art can be an essential, integral and everyday part of a healthy community.


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Sunday, June 3, 2012

We're not alone

I received an unexpected email the other day. Hannah Minzloff is a Nova Scotia-based photographer  doing a project about a small section of a historic road,where she's newly transplanted.

It was a bit shocking to know that someone else is doing something so similar to what seemed like a pretty unique effort, but I shouldn’t really be surprised. Monticello Road was a response to a big need that exists in the Art World for art that is relevant to communities and a yearning in neighborhoods for the social benefits that artists are uniquely able to deliver. This is all over the world, not just me or in Charlottesville.

There’s nothing more encouraging than to look to either side and see fellows toiling alongside. I’m glad to know that I’m on to something important and its good to see others carrying the effort forward.

Here’s what she wrote:
Congratulations on succeeding with the fundraising for your wonderful project Peter. It has been amazing to hear about what you have accomplished in such a short time.


In a good way, hairs prickled on the back of my neck when I stumbled upon the Monticello Road project on Kickstarter (I was doing some research into crowdfunding) a couple of months ago. By wild coincidence I am also working on a photo-based community project along a short stretch of road in what is a relatively new community for me, in Dartmouth Nova Scotia on the east coast of Canada. As I read your description of Monticello Road, it felt like I was seeing my own words pouring out onto the page.


I'd like to share with you what I have been working on over the last 18 months. Portraits on Portland documents a neighbourhood in transition, celebrating the people and places along a 5-block strip of the Old Dartmouth section of Portland Street, Nova Scotia's first incorporated town. The exhibition will be presented as a series of large prints along with projections of historical images at a local gallery this September. A wall of the gallery will be given over to the community to post their thoughts, drawings etc of what then envision for the future of the area, and a number of stores on Portland will actively take part in the show by hosting their own displays of pictures and artifacts. I have been using a digital recorder to collect people's stories about the area but haven't quite decided how to present those during the exhibition. You can see a selection of the portraits and read more on the website: Portraits on Portland.


The way you reached out to engage the community through panel discussions and storytelling has inspired me to set up a panel discussion on revitalizing downtowns, and if I may I'd like to borrow your rocking chair storytelling afternoon idea.


After much research – can you believe it there are no crowdfunding organizations in Canada!– I decided to give crowdfunding a try by setting up a website and a PayPal account. I've almost reached my goal which is a real testament to the local community.


I wonder if there is an opportunity for an exhibition exchange here or for these works to intersect in some way?


thank you for the inspiration,


Hannah
All throughout this project, I have received constant voices of confidence from all quarters: sponsors, fellow artists, media, and the neighborhood itself. It’s rare in any life, including that of an artist, to be told with certainty that you are doing the right thing.

As we think about what makes us each successful and what makes a healthy community, that validation is a key ingredient. Let’s all do it for one another and do it often.

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