Belltown Paradise/Making Their Own Plans Book Release Event

Mar ’05
12:00 am

Ave Bromberg and Brett Bloom discuss the new book
Belltown Paradise / Making Their Own Plans
Friday, February 25th, 8:00 PM
This double-sided volume offers two books detailing inspiring examples of artists, environmental visionaries, and concerned citizens who have had a direct impact in shaping their urban environments. The groups were invited to write their own accounts of their histories, failures and triumphs while working to redesign neighborhoods in creative and exciting ways.
Belltown Paradise?is a concentrated study of urban renovation activities around the corner of Elliot and Vine Streets in the Belltown neighborhood of Seattle. The first three chapters present the work of community activists who successfully preserved open land in one of Seattle?s most densely packed neighborhoods to create the Belltown P Patch, a community garden, and transform three adjacent early 20th century workers? cottages for writer?s residencies and a community center called Cottage Park. The chapters also cover Growing Vine Street, an initiative to slowly convert Vine Street, which runs along one side of the garden, into a ?green? street that cleans rainwater runoff from adjacent high-rise condo buildings while providing pedestrian-friendly space for urban dwellers. The fourth chapter is the first comprehensive chronicle of the work of artist Buster Simpson?s 30 years of public work in Belltown. Buster?s work and dedication have had an important impact on the aesthetics and conceptualization of environmental planning in the Belltown neighborhood.
The second book?Making Their Own Plans?shares the histories and tactics of four independent groups from four distinct urban centers: Portland, Oregon; Chicago, Illinois; Hamburg, Germany; and Barcelona, Spain. City Repair (Portland) began a number of neighborhood initiatives aimed at promoting a sense of community; their primary initiative creates public squares in and around the middle of the traffic intersections, resulting in what they call ?intersection repair.? The Resource Center (Chicago) had been working since the late 60s to find creative solutions to environmental and social problems in the city, primarily through reuse and recycling initiatives. A recent plan, detailed in their chapter, works to convert 6000 acres of vacant city land into farms that simultaneously clean the air, produce local organic produce, employ homeless persons, and beautify the city. Park Fiction (Hamburg), starting in 1995, organized exhibitions, design workshops, protests, and spectacles in their successful fight to preserve an open waterfront space and create a community-designed park on the Elbe River. The inhabitants of Can Masdeu (Barcelona) squatted then rehabilitated an old hospital and the surrounding grounds into space for living, gardening, neighborhood events, workshops and classes. Their chapter details their struggles with both local authorities and the exhaustion of radical communal living.
In the Field (Brett Bloom and Ava Bromberg) explores complex social constellations created by urban land use. We share ideas and take action inhabiting, transforming, and opening up spaces to new possibilities for creatively generated public space and autonomously produced neighborhood planning. Activities include public projects and written Field Guides, examples are available on the web site:
They will be on hand to discuss and sign the book.