Can shopping malls abandoned by time and left to rot by commercial failure or the march of time be revitalised as centres for urban farming and ecologically sustainable communities?  There seems to be plenty of evidence that this is indeed a possibility and numerous projects across North America are doing just that.  Douglas Rushkoff blogs about it here :

“The failure and abandonment of shopping malls throughout the country has a bright side: smart communities and businesses are turning them into greenhouses for organic agriculture. Talk about a nice urban hack. (Hack, as in its original sense of retooling something for a better purpose.)

If this is the way the post-apocalypse looks, count me in.”

The full story, Future Farmers of the Mall by Katie McCaskey, appears at Spectre.

Some interesting :

Dead Malls – a site which documents the malls which are either shut or in the process of being shut across the United States;

Gardens Under Glass – a feel good story about a slowly dying mall in Cleveland Ohio which is being rejuvenated with an urban farm initiative high in its ostentatious 1980s glass interior;

Core77 – has a story on The Los Angeles Forum’s Dead Malls Competition, which calls for the redesign of “at risk” American shopping malls. “With malls as such major parts of the North American landscape, the competition is very forward looking and optimistic about a more efficient use of space.”

Another Retail Expedition …

Posted: November 27, 2010 in Updates

Donna, Jamie & Katelyn

With Donna, Mitch and Dave taking possession of the keys from Lancini corp this week and confidence at an all time high the Renew Townsville team took a peek further into Townsville’s dormant retail underbelly.

What they discovered was that some of the spaces earmarked for projects are in dire  need of considerable tender loving care – and perhaps a shovel and an axe.

Much work is needed to make these spaces ready for artists and/or the collectives who have expressed an interest in the project and are priming themselves for the next round of proposals.

With Katelyn, Jo and Jamie beginning work this weekend we hope that some community spirit might help us take the next step and prepare another suite of spaces for the second wave of projects in the new year.

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The keys

The keys!!!

Renew Townsville took delivery of the keys today from Lancini corp.  This enabled us to fully appraise the spaces and start the cleaning and preparation phase of the project.

This is incredibly exciting as we are so much closer to making that final step and signing off the leases on the spaces to the artists.

In the meantime we would like to thank the Townsville City Council for stepping into what seemed like an insurmountable breach and helping us make the spaces electrically safe by sponsoring a sparky, Rodney Dowd from Len Dowd & Co, to carry out some much needed repairs.

This will enable the first round of artists to gain access to the spaces and begin their renovations and beautifications over the coming weeks.

On Saturday morning we had the great pleasure of finally getting our hands on the keys to the first release spaces.  Although the lease is yet to be finalised, we were able to have a glimpse of the spaces now that the public liability insurance had been settled the day before.

Artists Jo Lancaster, Katelyn Aslett, Jamie Thompsoin (Organi-Gallery), Townsville Writers & Publishing Centre’s Carla Hutchinson-Reade and some representatives from theARgoT Collective (including Bernadette Boscacci & Michelle Hall)  and the EtCetera crew (including Robert Crispe, Elly Murrell, James Ellis, Kyana Pike and Jess Hay) were given a tour of the spaces with Donna and Mitch.

All agreed that much work needed to be done to get the spaces up to scratch yet there was a real sense of excitement among the group for what could be achieved.  There is still some way to go – the tenancy agreement needs final approval, electricity inspections and repair work needs to be carried out and fire safety equipment installed – yet the expectation is that the design and fit-out of the spaces would commence in a matter of weeks.

We will keep you posted as to when the keys are officially in our hands and the hard work can truly commence!

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RADF Grant Application is Away

Posted: November 16, 2010 in Updates

Today we submitted our grant application for RADF.  Again, another monumental effort.  Thanks to everyone who submitted support letters and gave us guidence during this hectic period.  We would particularly like to thank Sandy McCathie from Eco Savvy for her incredible work in pulling this together for us.  Check out her site here.

Seed Funding for Renew Australia

Posted: October 13, 2010 in Uncategorized

Renew Australia and the “Crunch”

Some exciting news today from Marcus Westbury and his ever expanding Renew project :

“A big announcement today. Following on from the success of Renew Newcastle, the Victorian social enterprise seeding initiative Social Traders program “The Crunch” has just announced that over the next four or so months they will invest $10,000 and serious mentorship, Melbourne University Business School support and other assistance towards the establishment of Renew Australia.”

You can find out more on Marcus’ blog site on the internets.

We’re the Real Deal Now

Posted: October 1, 2010 in Updates

Word came through this morning from MacDonnells Law that Renew Townsville is finally incorporated!

This is wonderful news as we can now accelerate the push into the spaces over the coming months.  We have many people to thank who have devoted considerable energies to this administrative side of the project to date, many of whom who have donated their professional skills and time.  These include and are by no means limited to the following individuals and organisations :

WHK Accountants
MacDonnells Law
Mark Kennedy
Linsey Plant
Craig Stack (CBD Taskforce)
Heidi Hatherell (Crystal Clear PR)
Kim Baker (Boheme Beauty)

We look forward to keeping you updated on our progress as we work through the remaining issues – ie. finalising the lease agreement, confirming electricty supply arrangements, finalising the public liability insurance policy and hopefully landing those long awaited funding commitments!

It has been a difficult time for us as we have been embroiled in the administration of the project.  At the moment it is perhaps a little to easy to get caught up in the technicalities of it all – the legal wrangling over the constitution, the fine print of the lease agreement, finding a suitable insurer for something as peculiar and left of centre as Renew Townsville – and lose sight of the bigger picture.

The message we would like to get out to the arts community is that we are still hammering away and we expect to be able to announce some tangible news soon.  In the interim, those of you who are so inclined can follow our progress through the minutes of our meetings over the last couple of months.

Download : Meeting Notes 2 June

Download : Meeting Notes 28 June

Download : Meeting Notes 8 July

Download : Meeting Notes 21 July

Dual Context: Vidéoclubparis

Posted: July 22, 2010 in Urban Renewal
Video Club Paris

Viewers Lounging at Exhibit "En Maillot de Bain (In A Bathing Suit)"

An urban renewal project via a gallery reinvention from Paris :

“A new gallery for video art, Vidéoclubparis offers a single, hybrid space with two parallel modes of screening. The first is a monthly, online exhibition of a dozen young artists, centered around a variety of themes (from ‘soundtrack’ to ‘bathing suit’, among many others); presented with basic information about the pieces and their creators. The second part is a live screening-event organized for each opening, in unlikely, semi-private places ranging from a sauna to a Bollywood video store. By seeking out unique locations for screenings, the event challenges the idea of the formal white cube – an aspect that is emphasized by the parallel screenings on the web. “The aim is to create bipolar screenings, we’re trying to do the high jump between watching videos online and taking people to a place completely unexpected,” said Stéphanie Cottin, co-founder of the organization, “the two work well together, because the extravagance of the events balances out the conventionalism of the online curation.”

For more info visit our friends at Rhizome

“Closing of our first round of submissions is approaching fast, projects can be film and animation studios, fashion designers, jewelers, eco businesses, art & craft galleries, community groups… If you have an idea that you need to work up, or want to find others to share a space with, then come along to our next workshop this Monday 21st June at 5:30pm at Umbrella Studio”