Artist and activist, Matthew Mazzotta, has been helping communities around the world create public art projects that bring together locals to address concerns specific to their town. In his TED talk, he showcases a few of his projects that transform public spaces into usable art to highlight issues such as climate change, waste, disinvestment, loss of social life, and more. 

Each project starts with a community “living room” meeting. Mazzotta sets up an outdoor living space complete with all the comforts of home, like couches, rugs, lamps, and tables. These less formal meetings encourage locals to participate and allow Mazzotta to hear about the most pressing issues straight from the source. 

Here are a few of the projects he speaks about in his TED talk:

Open House

In York, AL, numerous abandoned houses pepper the town; a reminder of the times after segregation ended and white homeowners left the area. Using materials from one of these abandoned houses, an iconic, pink property, locals remodeled the home from an eyesore to a smaller-scale “home” that transforms into an open-air theater. The surrounding property is a public park.

Park Spark

This project in Cambridge, MA, replaced a park’s garbage can with a digester that transforms dog waste into usable methane gas to power the lights in the park. This cuts down on greenhouse gases and highlights environmental issues.

Storefront Theater

The downtown of Lyons, NE had many shuttered storefronts which led to a decline of social activity on the main street. However, this all changed when the community came together and created a movie theater using seating disguised as a false storefront that folds down over the sidewalk. Locals made a documentary about the history of the town and screened it at the theater on opening night.

Does your community have a need that could be resolved by bringing together locals, art, and creativity on a minimal budget? 

Check out Matthew Mazzotta’s website for more brilliant ideas from around the world that have helped communities inspire hope and creativity.