Socio-economic policy and practice in communities, from the coal mining towns of Appalachia to the neighborhoods of Miami-Dade County, have a tendency to reject the notion that value is inherent and worthy of investment. The idea of ‘added value’ is usually not based on a thorough assessment of available assets existing within a community but, rather, the idea tends to follow a particular line of reasoning that is detached from the lived histories and experiences of people in places. It is the absence of ‘seeing value’ that has had the greatest amount of impact on the ‘American idea’ since Pope Alexander VI issued the Papal Bull “Inter Caetera” in 1493.
The energy of absence (described above) is institutionalized glocally through organized religion, the shortage of interdisciplinary epistemological reasoning devoid of bias in academic settings (in all fields) as well as a breakdown in communications between these institutions and the communities that the institutions call home. In plain terms, folks are out of touch with reality and allowing their fears and biases to guide the problem-solving process.
In November of 2016 Sally Blagg, LLC, a native American emigrant run creative agency, moved to the ‘Great Road’ in the World Heritage City of Philadelphia in order to deepen understanding around valuation and the potential for maximizing the efficiency of pre-existing asset networks without the type of displacement that has plagued cities both domestically and abroad. Over the course of twenty-nine (29) months the team has become intimately familiar with the needs of merchants, residents as well as institutions; making strides, as time passed, to connect people to people in a manner that builds on the work already being done.
This autumn Sally Blagg will share a report on its problem solving processes in Philadelphia and the findings that came out of two years of living amidst some of the most complex challenges in the 330-year-old Germantown section of the city. The most profound findings relate almost exclusively to the psychological impact on-the-ground of the relationship between a failed ability to establish a deep understanding of historical context, media (both online & in print) and policy.
Through programming that speaks to community strengths, like the Nina Simone Cultural Festival & Conference, curators were able to cut through the politics of action in a manner that dredges up foundational community-wide discourse that has been forced down by the surface of anxiety and the undercurrent of fear. This is a model that has worked for Sally Blagg ten years ago, while working with preservation communities in Buffalo, that continues to show success to-date.
As neighbors, and community partners, Sally Blagg creative agency is committed to sustainable systems level change that results in mutual growth, understanding and investment starting with themselves in the place where they will open their international headquarters this autumn.