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Publication Date

2010

Abstract

Too often the important aspect of art fails to be included into the planning for the linear corridors of greenways. With a focus on the needed work to create the physical corridor itself and make it a reality, the effort to include public art into the process often does not seem essential. Efforts to safeguard ecological networks are often readily recognized as an important integral part of the greenway planning process, where the inclusion of art is often considered to be nonessential. However, several greenway researchers (Lewis, 1964), (Dawson ,1994) speak to the value of including cultural factors in greenway planning. Birnbaum (1994) underscores the importance of the historic cultural heritage in the planning process. In Turners Falls the value of cultural resource planning through public art as a primary foundation for economic revitalization offers a model for other communities. Part of the Town of Montague, MA, the Village of Turners Falls is an extraordinary historic mill town that is blossoming from its industrial roots to become a hub not only of recreational adventure, through a canalside bike trail, but also artistic inspiration through new opportunities for public art. In Turners Falls, after a 20 year effort to actualize a canalside trail bike path in 2005 (Figure 1), the value of including art also became recognized as an integral feature of the path thanks in large measure to a new project called RiverCulture. This paper will focus on the interconnected success of this project, highlighting public art competitions which relate to the bike trail.

The RiverCulture Project, a dynamic partnership of leaders from the Turners Falls arts, cultural and business communities joined together beginning in 2005 with state funding to promote and enhance the wide variety of cultural activities that has been helping this community realize a true renaissance. RiverCulture has been working to strengthen the creative and cultural industries in the Turners Falls area with a connection to the river. They believe that experiencing the arts and cultural activities significantly enhances quality of life and is a vital component to a healthy community. By highlighting the heritage and many local assets, they cultivate creative endeavors to engender a strong sense of place anchored to the linear corridor of the river and canal.

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