The University Record, September 10, 1997

Broadway Bridges design project part of community program

The YoHA symposium also will feature the launching of "The Arts of Citizenship," an innovative collaborative program of the U-M and city of Ann Arbor that includes a lecture series, a design project and an emerging collaboration with teachers at Mack Elementary and Community High schools. Mayor Ingrid Sheldon, who is an honorary co-chair of the YoHA Community Advisory Board, will make brief remarks at the start of the symposium. David Scobey, assistant professor of history and of American culture, is director of "The Arts of Citizenship" initiative.

The lecture series will present speakers on public culture, public history and public design. The speakers, says YoHA director Julie Ellison, "will be informants, inspirers and conversational partners in helping us think together about issues of cultural growth and urban change in Ann Arbor." Confirmed speakers include Dwight Pitcaithley, chief historian of the National Park Service, and former poet laureate Robert Hass.

The focus of the design project, "The Broadway Bridges Project: Cultural Programs for a Changing City," was suggested by Ann Arbor Mayor Ingrid Sheldon. A team led by Scobey is participating in the project, which incorporates the areas near the planned reconstruction of the Broadway Bridges. The group hopes to work with city comittee and other community partners to suggest ways of dramatizing the rich historical and cultural geography of this complex intersection of river, parks, paths, streets, railroads, businesses, industries and homes. The team also sees its role as that of imagining the cultural programs that could occur on or near this location and of encouraging design choices that will make those programs feasible."

Planning is under way for a one-week summer seminar, "Students on Site," involving U-M faculty and Ann Arbor public school teachers. The group will seek to identify a workable series of writing-intensive and humanities projects linked to the Broadway Bridges site, to be done by public school students. The projects "will address the development of primary-school writing skills through the historical exploration of a specific locale," Ellison says. Collaborating faculty and teachers will try to find ways for high school students to serve as field trip partners, co-authors and researchers.

"When the bridges have been reconstructed and the site is available for cultural programming, student projects might take the form of historical exhibits, storytelling and murals incorporating texts and images," she adds.