Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Picture of Raina Harmon wearing a face mask that says, "It's time to unify."

Work done by students in the course, Community Development through Creative Placemaking, recently led to the development of a Story Map website, Grow Black-Owned, featuring a directory of Black-owned businesses in Johnson County.

The project centered around ways that arts and culture can help advance economic inclusion and encourage Black entrepreneurs in the Iowa City area. School of Planning and Public Affairs faculty, Travis Kraus and Chuck Connerly, helped create created a unique model that merged the course with one from the Department of Theatre Arts, taught by Loyce Arthur and Mark Bruckner, thereby bringing together planning/policy-oriented students and art students.  The students interviewed 14 entrepreneurs and community leaders telling about their experiences of starting a business- featured on the Story Map through audio clips, photos, and narrative profiles.

The IISC project was done in partnership with I Heart Black Business, the Multicultural Development Center of Iowa, the Center for Afrofuturist Studies at Public Space One, the Obermann Center, and the Iowa City Area Development Group (ICAD). Kate Moreland, ICAD president, says, “We look forward to doing our part to help uplift and support these entrepreneurs and organizations both now and in the future.”  The project The Gazette featured the Story Map website in an article on  August 3rd.

Students who register for the course in spring 2022 will have the opportunity to continue exploring this theme.