A More Vibrant and Sustainable World

Sarah Ruether, an urban planner for the City of Woodinville, attended the annual NowPAC meeting of regional public art administrators with members of our staff.  This year’s event was held November 2 in Portland, OR.  Hearty thanks to the Regional Arts & Culture Council for organizing the event, and to PLACE Studio for graciously hosting us.

As an urban planner and a painter I have a natural interest in the intersection of art and the built environment.  I have sought out various forms of learning about the integration of these two disciplines.  Fortunately for me, I was able to attend the recent NowPAC meeting, which allowed this exploration to take real shape.

Buster Simpson and Peg Butler, Dekumstruction, 2012, mixed media.
Buster Simpson and Peg Butler, Dekumstruction, 2012, mixed media.

The relevance to urban planning in the topics discussed was greater than I would have imagined. The opening panel discussed collaboration as it relates to a storm water infiltration project done by the City of Portland that brought together art, design, planning and environmental stewardship.  Without art as part of the bio filtration design for the storm water, this project could have been clutter on the urban landscape and may have detracted from the city form.  However, with art this project is a demonstration of making an amenity of a functional and environmental necessity, a creative addition to the urban and pedestrian landscape.

As I search for ways to integrate creativity into planning for the built environment, this forum made me realize there are artists out there who need collaborative projects just as much as planners and engineers do. Only together can we achieve a more vibrant, functional and sustainable world.  The NowPAC meeting made clear the rewards of collaboration; a benefit to each sector and all of the disciplines have their role.  What a wonderful realization!  – Sarah Ruether