October 7/2015


Anyone can step up as an Emissary from the Future.

Kimberly C. Gaines is a photographer, media educator, and the chief curator of her own firm, sondai expressions creative, in Washington, DC. Melanie Ariens is a Milwaukee-area mixed-media artist who uses creative work to communicate about issues surrounding the Great Lakes, serving as artist-in-residence for the Milwaukee Water Commons, “a cross-city network that fosters connection, collaboration and broad community leadership on behalf of our waters,” promoting “stewardship of, equitable access to and shared decision-making for our common waters.”

Both are Emissaries from the Future in the USDAC’s #DareToImagine National Action, taking place nationwide from 10-18 October. Read on to learn what Kimberly and Melanie are imagining, and join people across the U.S. in signing up now to be an Emissary.

Anyone can step up as an Emissary from the Future. We’ll send you a Toolkit that includes Imagination Station plans; PDFs for signs, badges, and creative exercises; how-tos for organizing and promoting local events; checklists; an easy way to upload events to a national map, and much more. USDAC trainers will provide online video workshops for Emissaries and one-to-one technical assistance as needed.

Taken together, these two Emissaries hint at the many possible themes on which #DareToImagine can advance vision and activism. Kimberly blogs at sondai expressions. Below, we reprint her post describing a building in her community, the Strand Theater, an historic neighborhood landmark that has been closed for more than half a century. Kimberly will use #DaretoImagine to bring light to the history of the neighborhood.

Today’s blog features photos that Melanie has been uploading to CTZN, a platform and app released by GOOD Worldwide Inc. to bring groups of changemakers together in a dedicated space where they organize and tap into technology’s potential to connect, inspire, and make a difference in local and global communities. The USDAC is partnering with CTZN to host an Emissary social media community: when Emissaries sign up, they join CTZN (fast and free), and everything tagged #DareToImagine they post to Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram feeds into one stream of images, texts, and video clips. When #DareToImagine is in full swing in October, you’ll be able to visit the website to see the stream of visions shared by the public. Right now, Emissaries are using CTZN to update each other on what they’re doing and to share inspiring posts.

Materials: Rain barrel, recycled door, recycled crate, used dog trailer, recycled garden hose, umbrella, downspout, plumbing hardware, and two wooden table tops plus lots of creative painting.

Features: Origami paperfold pamphlets on the Great Lakes growing out of a little container of grass, a button maker to make Great Lakes Buttons, “ballots” to vote on different water initiatives for Milwaukee, they get filled out with flower pens and get dropped down the gutter into the rain barrel! The rain barrel is painted with the Great Lakes basin, a Milwaukee’s Rivers map. It has a door on it for storage access, dog bowl for water for furry friends, and a squirt bottle for hot people.

And here’s Kimberly’s blog post:

So… I am all signed-up to be an Emissary from the Future with the U.S. Department of Art and Culture. Isn’t that title exciting? Kinda. Technically, it means I am putting myself on front street for the love of my community and social justice for all. As an artivist in the community I see so many connections to solutions through the arts.

Art is not just beautifying a neighborhood where blight resides. It is a movement… hell is it is movement. The sooner that is realized the sooner solutions are realized. Think about the possibilities. What does doing better look like?

The city of DC is currently renovating The Strand Theatre at the corner of Division and Nannie Helen Burroughs. The Strand was once a movie theatre and meeting spot for African American families East of the River in the Deanwood and surrounding communities. It has been sitting since it closed in 1959. That is 55 plus years that this historical landmark has looked quite less than stellar.

To go from dank to spankin’ new and fresh not only revitalizes that building but it revitalizes those passersby. When you see dilapidated buildings, trash, broken fixtures and blight in your community it makes you feel unworthy and neglected just like those buildings. Living day in and day out like this creates a lack mentality. Art is the beginning of that solution. It helps you dream in possibilities.

Being an Emissary to the Future, I want to get the community to put on some imagination specs and get the ball rolling on progress. Stop waiting for officials to decide what they will do show them some action about WHAT YOU WANT DONE.

Stay tuned as the plans for the #DaretoImagine project comes together I will be giving updates and countdowns!