The Crazy Dames traveled through the cobble stoned streets of Florence with a wheelchair, gaining new perspectives on accessibility in cities.
Placemaking / Fare Spazio at Giardiano Orticultura
In partnership with Creative People in Florence (https://creativepeopleinflorence.com/), we organized an art festival in Florence entitled Place Making / Fare Spazio. Through an Open Call, Crazy Dames and CPF selected over 20 artists and performers to participate and reflect on the role of public space in order to create conversations on how we choose to design, interact and play with our city.
The festival was preceded by a ‘How to Build a Blanket Fort’ workshop, our third iteration to date. Joined by a young family and a few artists, we collectively determined a vision. With Sara in a wheelchair, a key focus was to ensure accessibility. As we were building, the originally shy 7 year old took on the leadership role, alleviating the rest of us from the daunting task of project management. She artfully coordinated a group of adults to build the fort in a way that accommodated a high ceiling, a window view to the park and a hammock for her to sleep in. As we were building the fort, a few passers-by asked if this was a comment on the refugee situation or poverty. We had been asked this at the Gardiner Museum as well. One woman who came by told us she lived in a tent nearby. She helped us make the blanket fort while we discussed the stigma that came with homelessness.
Once the fort was built, we continued the conversation about social equity in the City and this led to a discussion on preservation in Florence. Florence, Italy is one of (if not the) oldest planned cities in the world with stringent rules on historical preservation. Many of the building are empty and ideas for how Florence could better support contemporary art or as housing for the homeless emerged. Participants said the conversation sparked ideas of how to play a more active role in animating their public spaces and how to rethink the use of the existing buildings.
Later on in the evening, new participants joined - participants from the US, Canada, China, Philippines, Belgium and Italy. We shared stories about places we loved from our childhood. Many memories related to the love of isolated and open natural spaces. We discussed how cities can best recreate these places or provide access to them.