Problem to Purpose: From Landlord Neglect to a Circus for Youth

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Newburgh’s Creative Solutions to the Vacancy and Deterioration Challenge

Photo Credit: Safe Harbors of the Hudson

Kids flying through the air on isn’t uncommon in one community north of New York City. There, residents and leaders converted a vacant lot owned by a negligent landlord into what’s known today at the Zip Zap Circus — a circus for social change that works with disenfranchised youth. Zip Zap Circus is just one of many creative uses in the park that “showcase what can happen in a formerly vacant space,” says Lisa Silverstone of the hybrid affordable housing and arts center, Safe Harbors of the Hudson, which manages the park that houses the circus and other efforts.

In addition, the park includes an art gallery, performance space, artist studios, and a new theatre that’s in the works.

The diverse demographic, where 60 percent of the population are people of color, show the impact Creative Placemaking can have on vacant, abandoned, and deteriorated properties when residents connect.

Need Ideas for a Community Creative Placemaking Project that Fights Vacancy?

Learn more about Newburgh’s efforts and others in the “Creative Placemaking on Vacant Properties: Lessons Learned from Four Cities” for data and real case studies of communities where residents are solving community challenges while fighting vacancy.

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