Talk-It Hennepin Series Continues in May and June


Talk-It Hennepin, the free series about city design and the re-invention of Hennepin Avenue that pairs public conversations with follow-up workshops, continues May 7–12 and June 7 and 9, 2012. The talks feature some of today's foremost visionaries in urban planning including Charles Landry in May, considered the world's leading authority on creative, intercultural cities. June brings Chanchanit Martorell, a City of Los Angeles' planning commissioner who formed and leads Thai Town and specializes in urban economic development, Don Mitchell, cultural geography professor and MacArthur "Genius" Fellow who researches "contested" urban spaces and Minnesota native Seitu Jones, an award winning environmental artist who creates large scale public artworks and was the City of Minneapolis' first Artist-in-Residence. Attendance is free, please RSVP (accepted until space is filled). To respond and for more information, visit

Talk-It Hennepin began in March by exploring Hennepin Avenue's history and continues April 26 and 28 at Walker Art Center with New Orleans-based artist Candy Chang addressing creative urban intervention. The corresponding Talk-It Hennepin workshops are led by a local interdisciplinary team including visual artist Ta-coumba Aiken, vocal artist Mankwe Ndosi, dancer/choreographer Leah Nelson and theatre professional Harry Waters Jr. The team works interactively with participants to develop the framework and soul of the plan delving into values, vision, goals and design concepts. An urban design team, led by Twin Cities' landscape architect Bob Close and architect Mic Johnson of AECOM, with urban designer Peter Musty is gathering community input and ideas from the workshops to formalize streetscape, infrastructure, transit and development plans. They also crafted a scale model of Hennepin Avenue on display in various Talk-It locations. 

The Talk-It series is part of the broader Plan-It Hennepin, a year-long initiative to re-imagine Hennepin Avenue as a revitalized cultural corridor from the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden to the Mississippi River. The project is led by partners Hennepin Theatre Trust, Walker Art Center, Artspace and the City of Minneapolis and funded by a National Endowment for the Arts "Our Town" grant. 

A Week-Long Visit from Charles Landry - As part of Talk-It Hennepin

Monday, May 7, 10 a.m.–Noon, Connecting Cities, Connecting Cultures, Cowles Center, Goodale Theater, 528 Hennepin Ave. Landry begins his Twin Cities visit to inspire new thinking and start a dialogue with the neighborhoods along the Central Corridor Light Rail Line from Hennepin Avenue to Lowertown, St. Paul. Partners include Metropolitan Council, Twin Cities LISC, St. Paul Riverfront Corporation and Ethnic Cultural Tourism Destinations Collaborative/CultureBrokers Foundation. Limited space available. RSVPs taken until event is full. 

Thursday, May 10, 5–8:30 p.m. Talk-It Hennepin is encouraging participants to hear Charles Landry, keynote speaker for the Saint Paul Riverfront Corporation's 18th Annual Great River Gathering, Saint Paul's RiverCentre Grand Ballroom. There is a charge for this event. For ticket information, visit 

Saturday, May 12, 9:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m., Talk It Workshop: Coming, Going and Staying on Hennepin, FAIR School, Downtown, 10 S. 10th St., Mpls.; With Hennepin Avenue as the central point, local artists and urban designers will ask workshop participants to walk up and down the Avenue, lead them to visualize challenges and suggest problem-solving ideas.

Speaker Bio: Charles Landry is an internationally renowned authority on urban futures and the use of creative approaches to achieve farsighted aims. Landry helps cities transform their thinking to assess their potential afresh, working as a 'critical friend' to inspire, stimulate, challenge and facilitate. He combines a global perspective with an acute sense of what matters locally and grounds ideas in practical projects. His highly acclaimed book, The Art of City Making (2006), focuses on how cities can be more creative for the world, so that the energies of individuals and companies can be aligned with global responsibilities, building on his original ideas in The Creative City: A Toolkit for urban innovators. The creative city is now a global movement to rethink the planning, development and management of cities. Landry founded the think tank Comedia in 1978, which pioneered the connection between culture, creativity and city transformation. 

Talk It Hennepin: Owning Public Space-The Power of Place Identity

Thursday, June 7, 79 p.m.,

New Century Theatre, 615 Hennepin Ave., Mpls. (street level City Center)

Talk It Hennepin: Owning Public Space-The Power of Place Identity, the last conversation in the series will feature Chanchanit Martorell, Don Mitchell and Seitu Jones exploring the challenges of creating shared spaces in multi-cultural, urban environments. 

Talk-It Hennepin Workshop: Putting It All Together-Naming and Claiming

Saturday, June 9, 9:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m.

New Century Theatre

The local artist team will lead this "naming and claiming" workshop and participants will explore different ways to talk about the Avenue as a shared cultural experience. The workshop will identify work to be done to improve the space and how various tasks to move Hennepin Avenue forward might be shared. Note, as part of Northern Spark, also taking place June 9, Talk-It Hennepin will be contributing to the activities. More details will be announced as they become available.

Speaker Bios:

Chanchanit (Chancee) Martorell was born in Bangkok, Thailand and was raised in Los Angeles where she earned an M.A. in urban planning from UCLA and taught the first Thai American Experience course. She formed and leads Thai Town, a multi-ethnic East Hollywood neighborhood, and as the founder/executive director of the non-profit Thai Community Development Center, she strives to improve the lives of Thai immigrants through programs promoting cultural adjustment and economic self-sufficiency. She is known for her work as an immigrant workers' rights advocate and has advised in the formation of many other Southern California culturally defined districts. Martorell has also worked as a planner and aide to local, state and federal legislative offices. She is serving her second term as a planning commissioner for the City of Los Angeles and chairs of the Union Bank Community Advisory Board.

Don Mitchell, distinguished cultural geographer from Syracuse University and a 1998 MacArthur "Genius" Fellow, has studied "contested" urban public spaces for more than two decades, especially attempts to control the behavior of protesters, the homeless and other marginalized people. An influential and radical scholar, Mitchell looks at the meaning of space within the context of labor struggles, human rights and justice, working to reclaim the importance of workers' lives in the planning of landscapes. He has researched and will talk about historic as well as contemporary cultural re-generation in Denver, Oakland, Glasgow and Manchester, England. He is also known for initiatives like the People's Geography Project and books including The People's Property? Power, Politics, and the Public (2008).

Seitu Kenneth Jones, a Minneapolis native, uses environmental art and horticulture as tools for community development, creating more than 30 large-scale public artworks. His many awards include fellowships from the Minnesota State Arts Board, the Bush and McKnight Foundations and the National Endowment for the Arts/Theater Communication Group. He was also a 2001-02 Loeb Fellow in the Harvard Graduate School of Design where he researched cultural landscapes. Jones recently completed his tenure as the City of Minneapolis' first Artist-in-Residence and he is currently integrating artwork into the design of three stations for the new Central Corridor Light Rail Transit system. He is a Senior Fellow in Agricultural Systems in the College of Food, Agriculture and Natural Science Resources at the University of Minnesota, sharing an endowed chair with urban farmer, Will Allen of Milwaukee.

Tickets for the Talk-It Hennepin events are free. RSVPs will be accepted as long as space is available. To RSVP and for more information about Plan-It Hennepin and Talk-It Hennepin please visit Please note, there is a charge to attend Charles Landry's key note address at the St. Paul Riverfront Corporation's 18th Annual Great River Gathering.


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