‘Home’: New Post to Cover History of Green River Nonprofit | New

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Maria Sykes came to Green River as a member of AmeriCorps just after graduating from Auburn University with a degree in architecture. Its role was to develop affordable housing in collaboration with the community center.

Green River, about an hour from Moab, is a town of just under 1,000 people. It struggles with the same issues as other small rural towns: crumbling infrastructure, an aging and declining population, and a lack of affordable housing.

“We realized that this kind of place could benefit designers,” said Sykes. “And it was a place where we could learn and where we could put our skills to use.” At university, she embraced the idea of ​​’citizen architects’, that is, architects deeply committed to the community in which they found themselves, and let this sense of belonging guide their design. .

In 2010, Sykes founded the nonprofit Epicenter, which “runs creative initiatives that honor the past, strengthen the present and build the future we envision alongside our community”. Their past plans include a “fix first” plan, which helps elderly, disabled, and moderate to low income homeowners solve minor problems in their homes and pay off costs at a low interest rate; the design of a 708 square foot “frontier house” as an alternative to mobile homes; the creation of a Green River newspaper and magazine; and the Frontier Fellowship, an opportunity for artists to generate new works influenced by Green River.

The work of Epicenter aims to mitigate population booms and subsequent downturns in Green River. Sykes wants to help the city build slowly and intentionally, she said, and avoid the mistakes of the past. She creates things for the people who currently live in Green River, not for those who might one day move to town.

In 2021, the organization announced its publication, “Why this place: a future perspective,” which will be released in the spring of 2022. The publication will discuss what the organization has done in the past to make a plan for the to come up .

The idea for the post started out as “a few beers on my porch,” Sykes said during a recent Zoom on Post panel. 2020 has been both the first year of the global COVID-19 pandemic and a year of cultural stocktaking, Sykes said in an interview with the Moab Sun News, and it has caused her and her organization to postpone questioned their role in Green River and why they were so focused on the small rural town. Conversations that were happening nationwide, about racial justice and pandemic isolation, reverberated into conversations at Epicenter.

“It made us start to rethink who we are in this place and ask ourselves, are we the right people to do this job? Sykes said. Isolation from the pandemic gave her the “gift of time,” she said, and allowed her to think hard about everything her organization had done since its founding.

“And then it became a much bigger thing when we started asking these questions,” she said.

The publication will take the form of a 6.75 x 9.5 inch book of approximately 250 pages, designed by Jason Dilworth. At one point, the publication was to be an “open magazine” of bulk ephemera, a boxed collection of loose and bound writings, audio, postcards, cards and other content. But as the project grew, the team decided they wanted a small, tangible, affordable, and permanent thing that could “cut down on time” in its pages.

“We work this way a lot, like, ‘Let’s think of the strangest thing we can do to get our idea across,’ and then we edit and simplify,” Sykes said.

As the post grew and evolved, it became more abstract but also more comprehensive, said Summer Orr, the project’s lead illustrator.

“As all of these pieces came together, it continually becomes something different from where it started,” Orr said. Sykes involved Orr and Dilworth in the project early on so that the illustration and post design could feed into the written content. Orr’s design influences came mainly from travel brochures and older historical Utah quarterly publications, she said. a.

The book’s design is meant to be spatial, Dilworth said. One section of the book contains poetry by Dasha Bulatova, a former Frontier Fellow. When asked what she wanted to include in the post, Bulatova decided to remove poems from the poetry she wrote as a comrade.

“When I thought about how I could contribute, it was 2020 deep and we were all taking a lot of losses,” Bulatova said. “I had entered a deep isolation, I was about to move across the country, so I was thinking of an incomplete and fuzzy memory. I did the same with my poems.

Dilworth designed the poems so that the words were spread over the wide pages of the book; he wanted the poems to look like unstable architecture or cairns on the verge of collapse.

The post will contain content from a variety of contributors – former Frontier Fellows, members of the Green River community, current volunteers at the Epicenter – in various forms, linked by common themes of the challenges of designing a place. rural, community resilience, regional tourism and the seasonality of Green River.

So why Green River? Why pay so much attention and care to the small town west of the Utah-Colorado border?

“Rural issues, period,” said Jamie Horter, a rural advocate and contributor to the publication. “We exist. We are here. ”She wants to change the narrative of rural places and change the way they are viewed.

“Throw a dart and you’re going to find a really interesting place,” said Sykes. “We have chosen this place at times, and most of it has welcomed us… It’s a matter of deciding ‘this is our home’. That’s why this place.

The publication is expected to be finalized in spring 2022.


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