Hi, I’m Miriam. I have an academic and professional background in urban planning and design, community development, event planning and management. I have awesome skills in herding cats, making friends, linking contacts for their mutual benefit, asking good questions, pushing others to help them succeed, making it happen and getting it done. I am a super curious and analytical thinker who is naturally skeptical, but easily inspired.
Creative Citizenry is an invitation to participate in and accelerate the conversations that lead to the actions that drive our cultural evolution forward. The conversation is contemporary urban ethnography and instant cultural auto-biography but also scheming, dreaming and action planning for the next stages of human evolution.The site is a public square dedicated to conscious culture creation, facilitating the discussion of life, art, meaning, purpose, work, play, cities, community, citizenship, home, away, culture, human evolution, chaos, control… and that thing in the desert.
Artists may function as weather vanes or harbingers of change, showing current directions of broader social thought, and indicating sites of transformation where intervention may make inequities and blind spots tangible. This occurs in part because artists tend to think things together that are usually separated, precipitating out immanent relationships and economic, social and technological contradictions.
— Kathryn Weir Curatorial Manager, International Art and Australian Cinémathèque at the Queensland Art Gallery, Gallery of Modern Art from “In this together: The aesthetics of inclusion”.
In 2011, I started taking myself seriously as a social commentator and writer when I quit my job writing environmental policy for a local government in Australia, moved to Chicago and created MiriamintheMidwest.com. For the better part of that year, I wrote about the social evolution of America as I saw it and immersed myself in the subject matter with tones of urbanism reading and experiential research (read: I heart MegaBus). My work was celebrated with a guest post on TheUrbanophile.com (August 2011) and a keynote presentation at the Indianapolis Urbanized Summit in October 2011.
In early 2012, I found new inspiration in the form of FIGMENT and the Masters of Cultural Sustainability program at Goucher College, Baltimore. In July 2012, I began further developing my research, writing and (previously gonzo) ethnography skills with this course of formal and expensive study which I leverage to inspire me to produce essays and presentation submissions that explore how the organizational structures, social principles and attributes of transformational arts festivals can be applied to the recovery policies and programming of post-industrial cities. I put these ideas into practice in my own imminently ‘rusty’ hometown of Geelong, Australia by producing FIGMENT Geelong 2013 – 2015, an annual interactive and transformational international arts event, heading FIGMENT Australia, a parent-org to support other Australian cities’ FIGMENT events and running Artists Anonymous, an artist-networking and collaboration effort. And I’ve recently completed my Master’s Thesis, “From Radical to Routine: Burning Man and the Transformation of a Countercultural Movement”.
I wonder how can governance structures not just retain and attract populations to seemingly declining urban cores, but mine the talents, creativity and enthusiasm of citizens to evolve these cities into highly-participatory and thriving places? How can we get out of the way of innate human ingenuity to unleash the potential of ourselves and our cities?
I want to know about research of successful recovery and resilience building initiatives (grassroots, formal, informal, ad hoc, etc.) that are combating social and economic isolation and decline, while also building resilient individuals, communities and cities. This work will give justification to shifting public policy and funding streams to better support relief efforts that are more likely to be successful, help unite communities and inspire more beautiful, engaging, activated, fun and effective cities and citizens.
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