Spring Forward Project
Approximately 1000 properties are vacant and abandoned in South Bend. Vacant and abandoned properties cause visual blight and diminish the value of nearby homes both psychologically and financially, creating a continual cascading crisis.
This collaboration, led by artist Chris Stackowicz and Diana Hess, executive director of Neighborhood Resources Corporation in South Bend, seeks to address these issues through a practical, accessible strategy and inviting, hands-on neighborhood approach.
The Spring Forward Project engages the creative community, alongside neighbors and residents, in a true grassroots effort to secure these homes and highlight their potential while preventing further deterioration. By placing artistic plywood panels over the doors and windows, the community is empowered to make their own neighborhoods a more attractive source of pride, as well as less vulnerable to crime and health-related issues.
It’s a simple but powerful idea. By painting doors, windows, flowerboxes, cats and candles on the boards, South Bend neighbors will create works of beauty where the streetscape now is marred by neglected and abandoned properties. Although Spring Forward intentionally seeks to attract a diverse mix of stakeholders, it’s ultimately neighbors themselves -- and people like you -- who will lead the project to success.
The process of economic redevelopment begins with stabilization. This project aims at improving a key source of blight within a number of neighborhoods throughout South Bend: vacant homes. To begin this community-led process, we asked neighborhood associations to provide us with a list of homes, participating artists and resident volunteers. It takes many hands to change the face of the community and we encourage groups, clubs, organizations, classes and individuals to participate!
The process of making over a city takes a lot of work and it seems that usually the creative people are left out of the mix. In this case, the opposite is true. The artists are the ones who will be directly responsible for creating the new face of the city! Each artist or artist group will be paired with a business and a home. The designs will be approved by the local neighborhood association in conjunction with the sponsoring business. And even better, artists won’t be working for “exposure”, they will be paid $100 for a few hours of their time in designing and painting the plywood panels.
The process of stabilizing sectors of the city is vital if we are to continue creating a prosperous and economically sound South Bend. By participating, businesses are encouraging the turnaround of our neighborhoods and creating a larger base of potential investment. Each sponsoring business or group of businesses will receive record of their participation in this nonprofit project, an area on the artistic renditions for strategic placement of their logos, the opportunity to choose a home and artist to sponsor, and a chance for creative cooperation: working with neighbors, volunteers, and artists.
The Impact of Your Donation
By supporting the Spring Forward Project, you'll be supporting South Bend artists and neighborhood associations, each of whom receive $100 per house. You'll also support Neighborhood Resources Corporation and the NRC's nonprofit work in neighborhoods.
But the greatest benefit to South Bend neighbors is the creation of a stronger social fabric through the arts initiative, and in keeping the connections that keep South Bend thriving and strong. That's the best strategy for economic and community development!