by Laura Owens

The Beyond Walls Street Art Festival wraps up this weekend with another string of exciting events and happenings in Lynn. This year, they’ve added something exciting called the PATIO: a project in which parklets – little community spaces – can be built and placed in areas around downtown Lynn.

These parklets will mostly be placed in urban spaces, such as curbside parking spaces and other areas of the streetscape, transforming urban spaces into vibrant areas for the community to converge.

So far, there are three locations where the parklets are: Central Square, 65 Monroe Street, and Sutton Street.

The parklets, created with the support of the Essex County Community Foundation Creative County Initiative, programmed by Cojuelos Productions , and created by Crowley Cottrell, a landscape architect, come in three different orientations: “GATHER,” VEND,” and “PERFORM.”

The three parklets already in place are flexible and portable, so a variety of events and happenings can occur where they are, helping to build community and liven up the local urban spaces.

Rosario Ubiera-Minaya and her production company Cojuelos Productions worked with local stakeholders, the community and Beyond Walls to produce the programming at this series of events… She has been integral to the project and is ecstatic about the results: “This programming is rooted in the needs and wants of the community, based on a robust community engagement process.

“We have been implementing a hands-on approach for modeling grassroots community engagement and inclusion. These facilitated interactions with the community are meant to inspire residents to collectively reimagine and reinvent their public spaces as the heart of their community,” Rosario said.

Another aspect of the PATIO and its parklets is the act of placemaking in the urban city. Beyond Walls, with help from the Essex County Community Foundation’s Creative Placemaking Fund, is able to build spaces through collaborative partnerships that intentionally leverage arts and culture in an urban area.

The Program Director of The Essex County Community Foundation’s Creative County Initiative, Karen Ristuden, “is thrilled to provide funding for [the] Beyond Walls PATIO Parklets Program. To see the parklets bring people together in conversation, play, commerce, and celebration are what creative community building is all about!”  

Along with the program and events that will be held at the parklets, the act of creating a place to gather in urban Lynn demonstrates how engaged Beyond Walls is with its surrounding community and in strengthening the local cultures and arts. Rosario said that the PATIO has been beneficial to this idea: “What we’ve seen in Lynn through the Beyond Walls’ PATIO Public Parklet Program, is, in my opinion, placemaking at its best!”

She also added: “PATIO is strengthening the connection between Beyond Walls, the City of Lynn, and its residents. It’s also bringing together people who wouldn’t necessarily come together otherwise, making this process even more beautiful and valuable.

“We are excited about the future of PATIO as it continues to be utilized as a tool for engagement, with our residents leading the process.”

Some of the events at the PATIO this past week have been musical performances by Tertulia, sidewalk sales with numerous vendors across a few days, and ROLOton, which is a celebration of heritage, community, and identity through hair. Besides these events, more will be happening throughout the fall, with the intention of creating more community spaces for healthy gatherings that are safe and productive.


Upcoming Events for Beyond Walls

Sidewalk Sale at PATIO 
Friday, August 2 and Saturday, August 3 @ 9:00 am – PATIO, Central Square, Lynn

Opening Reception – Higher Purpose
Friday, August 2 @ 5:00 pm – Galleries at Lynn Arts, 25 Exchange Street, Lynn

Guided Street Art Tour 
Saturday, August 3 @ 12:00 pm – Lynn Museum/LynnArts, 590 Washington St, Lynn

Canvas and Culture
Saturday, August 3 @ 3:00 pm – 18 Mount Vernon Street, Lynn

Plein Air Excursion with GALA and Beyond Walls
Saturday, August 3 @ 3:00 pm – Galleries at Lynn Arts, 25 Exchange Street, Lynn

Rock the Block – Festival Closing Celebration
Saturday, August 3 @ 6:00 pm – 18 Mount Vernon Street, Lynn

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