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Salinas Arts & Innovation Hub

Providing communal creative exchange & eco-innovation; for peace, prosperity, social equity, and youth opportunity in the Salinas Valley.

Photo of Marnie Glazier
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*Please Upload User Experience Map (as attachment) and any additional insights gathered from Beneficiary Feedback in this field

Design thinking & systems thinking, inspired by this challenge, clarifies our vision of art as connector, allowing us to consider all connected parties' needs & to avoid the pitfalls advocacy groups/innovators in Salinas have fallen into in the past, good ideas falling short, from lack of resources, public support, or consensus. "Being realistic about what is required and the power of the people, " means engaging valuable dialogue to find win-win solutions -empathizing with all stakeholders.

Why does the target community define this problem as urgent and/or a priority? How is the idea leveraging and empowering community assets to help create an environment for success? (1000 characters)

The community, with a poverty rate of almost 20%, a homicide rate higher than that of LA, and a large undocumented/farm-worker family population, faces severe housing/space shortages, denying access to creative space for creative solutions. The Arts & Innovation Hub will provide access to creative space: [1] for dialogue around racial equity, economic empowerment, and alternatives to existing social, ecological, and public/mental health disparities; and [2] for creative career pathways/cultural resources, serving businesses & providing platforms to open the Salinas Valley to the global community, allowing marginalized Salinas to participate in its own narrative, and implement real solutions to longstanding problems, by directly connecting artists with one another, with community, and with businesses and community employment opportunities. We have the resources and the vital artists & arts collectives in the community already. We just need the bridge to connect them, in the hub.

How does the idea fit within the larger ecosystem that surrounds it? Urgent needs are usually a symptom of a larger issue that rests within multiple interrelated symptoms - share what you know about the context surrounding the problem you are aiming to solve. (500 characters)

Helping cultivate a sustainable arts ecosystem in Salinas, we understand that, as Monterey County Arts Council Director, Paulette Lynch suggested in a recent presentation, "Art is the answer." The crises we face today in Salinas - as farm worker populations fight to survive, agricultural industry struggles to feed more people with fewer resources, and artist/innovators strive to find access to space and opportunity - can be solved with Art as connector of peace, prosperity, and planet.

How does the idea affect or change the fundamental nature of the larger ecosystem that surrounds it (as described above) in a new and/or far-reaching way? (500 characters)

The hub will reach out to the region's most marginalized communities, filling the void brought by the lack of creative space - symptomatic of deficient cultural/creative resources. The hub has already begun partnering with regional & national organizations, bringing seed funding & synergy among local artists and industry partners. It will serve both community and industry, building bridges to address racial inequities, strengthen relationships, and create new, creative opportunities for all.

What will be different within the target community as a result of implementing the idea? What is the scope and scale of that difference? How long will it take to see that difference and how will it be sustained beyond BridgeBuilder support? (500 characters)

The community will have access to creative space, with artists and arts collectives working in concert rather than in competition, to create accessible career pathways, cultural resources, and direct employment opportunities for marginalized community members. The scope/scale of this effort are much broader than any one entity in the community could achieve alone. With BridgeBuilder support, we project 2-3 years to be self-sustaining, through industry and community partnership to benefit all.

How has the idea evolved or responded to your user research during the Beneficiary Feedback Phase and any further insights provided if you participated in the Expert Feedback Phase? (1000 characters)

Each subsequent phase has allowed us the opportunity to bring new stake-holders together to discuss the project, helping us clarify and cement our vision, and reifying our commitment to win-win solutions, to community, and to the essential nature of art as connector/problem-solver. Meetings have reaffirmed the potentiality for art to address not only socioeconomic, but public health problems, while serving three distinct sectors which will work in concert: marginalized community members of all ages, artists and arts collectives, and businesses (especially in the vibrant agricultural industry central to Salinas's economy). We've also targeted a key problem in the need to connect these disparate groups. Sociopolitical divides ingrained in the very history of the region and its industry, from John Steinbeck to Cesar Chavez & the UFW strikes, into today, have left scars, preventing the vital bridge-building needed to bring all sectors together for peace, planet, and prosperity today.

What are the key steps for implementation in the next 1-3 years? (You can attach a timeline or GANTT chart in place of a written plan, if desired.) (1000 characters)

The Hub has gotten underway thanks to small grants from the state of California’s Center for Cultural Innovation: Investing in Tomorrow Grant Program, and from the Arts Council for Monterey County. This has helped us bring together disparate artists and organizations operating within Salinas, to provide leadership opportunities for positive social impact. The Bridge Builder Grant invited the next phase, allowing us to connect with regional businesses and with agricultural industry professionals, to refine our vision and plan. Going forward, we are committed to securing space for the Hub, to bring together arts workers and begin to provide and refine services to artists, community, and industry. The attached visual map shows key steps in this phase: Year One - visioning, prototyping, outreach, and securing space; Year Two - establishing workshops, services, internships, & apprenticeships; Year Three - establishing economic sustainability and creative academic/career pathways.

Describe the individual or team that will implement this idea (if a partnership, please explain breakdown of roles and responsibilities for each entity). (Feel free to share an organizational chart or visual description of your team). (500 characters)

A partnership of Salinas artists, collectives, educators, industry, and community, the Hub was initiated by local teaching artists: MJ Glazier, H Rocha-Tabera, L Juarez, JC Gonzalez, JC Glazier, and M Ryuno & includes community/student leaders: G Woods, R Navaille, A Diaz, JR Avila, and collectives like Baktun 12, Urban Arts Collaborative, Ariel Theatrical and others. It is sponsored by the Hartnell College Foundation, Ashton Clarke, Assoc. Dir. Philanthropy. Draft org. chart attached.

What aspects of the idea would potential BridgeBuilder funds primarily support? (500 characters)

BridgeBuilder funds would help actualize project goals in the first three years of development, not only through the platform's providing expert feedback, organizational design support, and bridge-building on a global level, but through direct financial support that would help us to acquire a physical space, supplies, and personnel to put our ideas into action in a cohesive manner, with room for full community participation from the outset. Model organization:

In preparation for our Expert Feedback Phase: What are three unanswered questions or challenges that you could use support on in your project? These questions will be answered directly by experts matched specifically to your idea and needs.

Some of our most pressing questions to date are: 1) How will we engage the agricultural industry without compromising our integrity as artists - and particularly as eco-artists/healing artists? 2) What is the best way to appeal to the agricultural industry in a focused, targeted manner? 3) As more and more primacy is given, locally and globally, within the public and private sectors, to technology and technological innovation - within the framework of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) - how can we convince constituent groups to value creativity as an asset for problem-solving within organizations? In particular, how can we help others to recognize the value of art in itself as an essential component in addressing 21st century needs?

Final Updates (*Please do not complete until we reach the Improve Phase*): How has the idea evolved or responded to your user research during the Beneficiary Feedback Phase and any further insights provided if you participated in the Expert Feedback Phase? (1000 characters)

We received constructive feedback from our assigned expert, Carolyn Roby, and this, along with additional outreach within our community, prompted significant insights. Revisiting the need for cross-sectoral partnership within the Salinas Valley and reflecting on the history of adversarial relations brought on by economic disparities among fieldworkers and employers, we are working on two prototype proposals, with the support of Agricultural industry experts. The first project will be an art and wine event to bring together constituent groups for a shared appreciation for the vibrancy of our community both agriculturally and artistically. The second will be a prototype training, offered for free initially to area industry, filling their need for applicable, vital human resource trainings, and showcasing the relevance of the arts to business. We'll also continue making short films for area industry as industry experts have touted the growing need for film in business marketing today.

During this Improve Phase, please use the space below to add any additional information to your proposal.

Finding common ground among artists and agricultural industry leaders is key, and failure to do so has been a large part of what has stymied creative efforts and social development within the Salinas Valley to date. The tendency toward working against rather than with one another is an important and still raw aspect of the region's heritage. Dating back to the Bracero Program that brought Mexican farm workers to the region to address labor shortages during the second World War --and later to the wonderful work of Cesar Chavez and the National Farm Workers Association (NFWA) which merged with the Fillipino American Agricultural Workers' Organizing Committee (AWOC) to become the United Farm Workers (UFW) during the Delano grape strike and boycott of 1965-70 and the concurrent efforts of artists like Luis Valdez and el Taetro Campesino-- the region has experienced sociopolitical turmoil in its disparate populations' efforts to reconcile the granting of basic human rights, with the economic realities of a tiered capitalist system. While the work of artists like Valdez and El Teatro and those like Baktun 12 who've follow in their footsteps, attests to the tremendous influence of the arts, to inspire, empower, and uplift, scars still remain across the divergent groups that populate the Salinas Valley. Today, more than ever though, as we face growing ecological and socioeconomic challenges, the very factors which have divided Salinas Valley populations, stand perfectly poised to unite them in a common pursuit for peace, planet, and prosperity. In this effort we find a common cause - a common language. As we move into a new era of ag-tech innovation, and social practice arts, the timing is perfect for achieving together the vision of the ideal future that all groups hold. Using some of the resources suggested in this Bridge Builder Open IDEA challenge, we've brought in community input from multiple stakeholders, both among youth and marginalized community members, and among leaders within the agricultural industry. Answering the requests from industry professionals, we have begun to put together our first two prototype events: the wine and art event promoting Salinas arts and culture and ag tourism, and the industry trainings. We are continuing to develop both of these ideas and will hold the first event this fall, using Canva to collaborate with local industry leaders to create the invitations and flyers, and we are excited to begin to promote these events and put ideas into action.

Note that you may also edit any of your previous answers within the proposal. Here is a great place to note any big final changes or iterations you have made to your proposal below:

We have refined our proposal to clarify and speak to the intersectional nature of the arts: in bringing social and environmental equity and cohesion, and addressing the challenges confronting us in the public and the private sectors in the 21st century. A recent article by Northeastern University’s Lauren Landry attests to the importance of creativity in business, suggesting: “Organizations today operate in a highly competitive, global environment, making creativity crucial.” ( Combine this with what Forbes Community Voice’s Michael Litt refers to as “an increasingly visual world” where the “preferred medium for communication is anything instant,” ( and finally with the growing demand for social businesses and the embracing of conscious capitalism, and what results is the crisis point contemporary business finds itself mired in today. Seeking to attract and retain new generations of customers and employees raised in an era of memes, social media, and global instant messaging, companies struggle to adapt to the changing face of reality in a fast-evolving 21st century of growing socio-economic inequities - and responsibilities. And while no one solution presents itself as the key to addressing the myriad challenges businesses today are confronted with, two things are certain: 1) the ability to empathize across vast social differences will be an absolute must, & 2) creative solutions and creative problem-solving will prove more and more crucial. Thus teaching empathy and creativity to the old as well as to the young will prove a vital step in ushering in the next phase of global socioeconomic development we stand on the brink of today. And embracing and re-valuing the arts as essential to human innovation will prove necessary steps in this ongoing advance. Yet, just when empathy and creativity are needed most, Art continues to be under-valued. In Salinas and elsewhere. Ultimately, we must re-evaluate the very meaning of arts and of arts education. Arts education, after all, isn’t limited to training people how to be professional artists in the world. It is fundamentally concerned with teaching people how to be in the world, how to connect -- how to imagine, inquire, and inspire - and for that there is no other discipline that answers quite so completely. While over the past few decades technologists have come increasingly to be viewed as our primary innovators, prompting institutions to prioritize Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) over all other subject areas, technologists themselves increasingly turn to art to help inspire inquiry. Design thinking, systems thinking, whole brain teaching, empathy mapping, and more point to the intrinsic value of creativity and empathy as primary assets in 21st century problem-solving and organizational planning. While fields from medicine to forestry are finding new arts applications in a variety of forms. In point of fact, the easiest way to devitalize a community is to take away its ability to make art. As art serves simultaneously as means of empathy, inquiry, and cultural repository, it is fundamental to a community’s perpetuation, vital to its continuance. The ability to make art is what most distinctly exemplifies a people’s advance. And yet, art remains to many ways of thinking, a kind of secondary, irrelevant offshoot of the more honorable, respected disciplines. What we propose is therefore a renaissance, a rebirth of creativity in the local and global economy. We propose a meeting of social equity, scientific and technological discovery, private enterprise, and creative capacity-building. We propose art as indispensable. To humanity and to an emerging humanitarian global economy. It is our hope that we can not only help revitalize Salinas, but also act as a model for other groups and communities seeking creative, ecologically and economically viable 21st century solutions.

Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)

Salinas, California is a region familiar to many for its massive agricultural output, accounting for 85% of US fruit and vegetable exports. Unfortunately, the economic and ecological toll this has taken on the region is exacting, from the impacts of widespread pesticide use, to the extremes in wealth disparity. With a “57% increase” in homelessness over the last year, according to a recent article in the Californian, (Wu), a staggering homicide rate, and lingering difficulties with gang violence, the Salinas Valley, deemed the "salad bowl of the world", struggles with extreme social and economic inequities. To build bridges among industry, artists, and community, to address the issues we are individually struggling to solve, and to bring community engagement and social cohesion, a team of Salinas educators, artists, and collectives are creating the Salinas Arts and Innovation Hub. Our vision is the direct connection of artist/innovators to independent and collaborative opportunities, services and space through partnership - with one another, area industry, and community. Our mission is to employ - and empower. The hub will provide an outlet for communal creative exchange, and innovation, addressing Salinas’s growing youth violence, poverty, and income disparity, by bridging the income/opportunities gaps: and serving the vital arts organizations and collectives trying urgently to stay afloat in the region. Currently, these disparate efforts are decentralized, and strained by the lack of affordable, accessible arts space, sustainable arts employment, and collaboration. Finally, innovation itself is stymied by this decentralization, forcing artists, and other innovators in the region to remain locked in their own silos, competing against, rather than working with one another to bring peace, prosperity, and planet to the fore for the benefit of all. We believe Art is the vital link, connecting us to the natural environment, to one another, and to ourselves.

Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)

Our beneficiaries are both the sub-affluent, predominantly Latinx farm-worker family populations living in the Salinas Valley, and the growers and shippers at the region's economic core. Salinas, as a center of commercial agriculture, is home to both: a vital, innovative agricultural industry, and a large sub-affluent, predominantly Latinx farm worker community. And while the region's agricultural industry strives to compete with large, multi-national agribusiness and to leverage dwindling resources, sub-affluent community members struggle as well to avoid displacement wrought by rising housing costs, originating partly from industrial land use and partly from both, the region's position within Monterey County --the well-known tourist destination-- and the region's proximity to the increasingly affluent Silicon Valley. The hub will bring Salinas's disparate groups together for the common cause of uplifting, regenerating, and improving the region for an equitable future for all.

How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)

There are many efforts to support the arts in our region, most in the affluent coastal communities, yet there is a lack of cross-pollination & no central arts hub in the Salinas Valley. Additionally, no effort has been made to create a sustainable, long-range arts and innovation ecosystem in Salinas. By leveraging college, community, and industry partnerships, and combining the efforts of new and existing arts collectives, The Salinas Arts & Innovation Hub can create new financial/sustainability models, and new, innovative industry and community solutions, by providing a physical space for artists and innovators to work - affordably - and directly connecting artists and innovators with employment as well as with other interdisciplinary professionals. Our approach is intersectional, human-centered, collaborative, and community-rooted, and we have had a tremendous outpouring of support from all sectors as we have moved forward through the initial design, prototype, and pilot stages.

Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)

  • Pilot: I have started to implement the idea as a whole with a first set of real users.

Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)

The Salinas Arts and Innovation Hub will provide leadership opportunities to diverse arts workers in the Salinas Valley, with sector-wide potential for positive social, ecological, and economic impact, serving area industry and community alike.

Expertise in sector

  • 3-5 years

Organization Filing Status

  • No, but we are a formal initiative through a university.

In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.

As a teaching artist, I've worked in many parts of the US, and remain shocked that despite California's -and the central coast's- reputation for artistic and technological innovation, little has changed to address the real inequities in the Salinas Valley, since John Steinbeck wrote "The Grapes of Wrath" depicting the plight of the itinerant fieldworker. As a college educator I want to help support and actualize the social practice art we teach about in the classroom.

Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).

Peace has been threatened by economic duress, as many in the region are forced to work long hours in the fields and this, combined with increases in gang-related activity, creates a precarious environment for youth and residents of all ages. These difficulties, exacerbated by high cost of living and lack of affordable housing, threaten the prosperity of individuals and community alike. And while efforts are underway by artists, educators, and innovators in the region, to shift the focus to more organic farming methods, and to collaborate across sectors; ongoing conventional farming and economic practices threaten community and planet. Our hope is to address all of these areas: helping artists work with industry partners & providing stability to community/artists offering art & organic produce workshops, art & healing workshops, art & nutrition workshops, free programming and mentorship for youth, & retired fieldworker populations, and equitably serving regional business needs.

Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)

The Salinas Arts & Innovation Hub has gotten underway thanks to grants from California’s Center for Cultural Innovation: Investing in Tomorrow Grant Program, and from the Arts Council for Monterey County. Other partners include: the Hartnell College Foundation, Cal State Monterey Bay's Salinas Center for Arts and Culture, the Media Center for Arts, Education, and Technology, and local arts collectives including: Baktun 12, the Urban Arts Collaborative, ARIEL Theatrical, and others. These organizations are helping us to provide free workshops to the community, and our hope is to be able to have a space to allow community artists to work freely and to collaborate with one another, coming together to help change the power structure, allowing artists to work with industry partners, and bringing full-scale support to these vital collectives.

Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)

Our community has a strong sense of belonging and has a wealth of vibrant arts organizations already hard at work, trying to serve the large youth and aging populations in the region. We also have a growing youth population -- our future change-makers who, at present are being forced out of the region to find employment in the arts. We are urgently focused on trying to support these organizations and individuals who are all very excited to build bridges for this and future generations.

Geographic Focus

This idea targets the tri-county region surrounding the Salinas Valley.

How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)

The project will be ongoing, and if we receive help through the BridgeBuilder Challenge, we will be able to secure a space and within 12 months will be fully operational as a hub.

Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)

  • No

If Yes, how has project idea changed, grown, or evolved since last year? (2,000 characters)



Join the conversation:

Photo of Fangqi Wang

Hi Marnie Glazier
I really like your creativity, the cultural and creative industry that I have been studying in college, and now there are many advantages to community development and cultural creativity. It is reasonable to find out and use local agricultural characteristics to hold some attractive activities, which will raise people's awareness of cultural creativity. Using art to create more opportunities for the community, commercial development will also bring more opportunities to the local. Thanks.

Fangqi Wang

Photo of Marnie Glazier

Thanks so much, Fangqi! I really appreciate your encouragement.

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