“Home is not just the place where you were born, but the place where you become yourself” – Pico Iyer
Project HomePoem is a participatory, site-specific, temporary installation designed to engage the Northgate community through collaborative writing experiences that start small and scale large. Project HomePoem will serve to mitigate the impact of portal construction by showcasing the diversity of voices within the community through a series of text-based public artworks super-graphically imposed on the construction walls and fencing. Working with a writer or poet from the creative team, community members will engage in the act of writing a poem that connects the station location to the place where they live. It is up to the individual to determine where they consider “home” to be. Referencing landmarks, street names, and other wayfinding elements, one may write a poem that connects two places, three blocks apart or three-thousand miles away, depending on where one most truly resides.
“In the instant that you think of a place, you become aware of the direction towards it.” -Eric Jonsson
For this project, we use the word “poem” quite loosely. Community participants may choose to write or speak their response, working with a writer or poet to capture and convey the essence of their story. The “poem” may be a series of phrases or a simple set of turns (take a left at the tree, at the stop sign turn right, etc…). Writers and poets selected for this project will work collaboratively with community members to transform their HomePoem into a sparse but compelling phraseology. English will be the primary language, but other languages may be included, based on input from the community and creative team.
The primary goal of Project HomePoem is to activate the portal wall and station perimeter with highly visible, delightful artwork that forges positive associations during the time of construction, thereby upholding the STart Program’s commitment to enhancing the transit experience in all stages of development. During construction, the site perimeter will be walled and fenced. Primary areas of activation have been identified as the east side of the portal, 1st Avenue NE between NE 94th St. and NE 100th St. and transit center fencing on 1st Ave. NE between NE 100th St. and NE 103rd. St.. Other sites may be included as the construction perimeter is fully established.
“Home is less about a piece of soil than a piece of soul.” – Pico Iyer
The Creative Team
The creative team will be comprised of writers, poets, and text-based artists, chosen through an open call to artists put forth by 4Culture on behalf of SoundTransit. An ideal team would be comprised of 4-6 creative individuals, working in the fields of visual art, writing, editing, and graphic design. Applicants should have experience working on community-based projects, interest in engaging the urban form, and be comfortable working with people of all ages and backgrounds.
“Home is not where you live but where they understand you.”
– Christian Morgenstern
Working with community leaders, tribal elders, teachers, and local non-profits, writers and poets will engage members of the Northgate community through one-on-one collaborative writing sessions that center on the question, “Where is home from here?” (“here” being the Northgate transit center). Writing sessions will happen on a scheduled drop-in basis, or in conjunction with other community activities and planned gatherings. Community members need not self-identify as writers, or have any appreciation of poetry. Ideally, the writing collaboration will happen face-to-face, to foster connections through a conversational approach. Drop-box locations, email delivery, and postcard delivery, will also be considered as ways to gather poems if the writing sessions prove to be an ineffective means of connection and collection.
The community-based writing sessions are the heart of Project HomePoem. As a collaborative venture between community members, writers, and poets, the poems will be formatted and arranged on the construction walls and fencing as super-graphic, text-based artworks that convey one’s navigational relationship between home and station, thereby connecting ones inner landscape with the outside world. This will set the stage for those living in proximity to build positive associations with the station during the time of construction and for years to come. Project HomePoem will allow participants to “see their voices” in the site itself. The artwork will be satisfying to both ones fleeting glance and careful study. In addition, www.homepoem.org will serve as the enduring online project site, so that this work can be experienced by all, even after the artwork comes down. Specifics regarding media and format for the physical work will be determined in collaboration with artists selected through this call. Size, scope, and duration of the installation will be determined by the budget available.
“Home. Yes, I am Home. Home is wherever I’m with you.” – Edward Sharpe
This artwork is designed to reside in two primary locations — the east side of the portal perimeter along 1st Avenue North between NE 94th St. and NE 103rd. St. and the east side of the station perimeter adjacent to the transit center between NE100th St. and NE 103rd St. The north end of the portal perimeter adjacent to the highway exit ramp also holds potential, as a highly visible place for the artwork to reside. Based on the construction schedule, designing and fabricating artwork for the portal and station areas will be given top priority. The artwork will supergraphically imposed on the perimeter fencing and plywood walls, contingent upon the larger project needs for safety, security, and noise mitigation.
In addition to the project site in the physical realm, the creative team will design and publish an online repository for the poems, featuring profiles of participants, places of origin, work in progress and project documentation. Content will be generated and maintained by the creative team and community participants throughout the project timeline of 3-5 years. The URL has been secured and is www.homepoem.org
Community groups, Sound Transit, and all interested parties will be welcome to use this online presence to augment broader outreach efforts.
Do you remember every block, every minute of every walk we used to take, we were young, so many years ago? – Josiah Johns
History and Community
Northgate is an aggregate collection of adjacent of neighborhoods north of Greenlake in Seattle, WA. The neighborhoods within this district are Haller Lake, Pinehurst, Licton Springs, and Maple Leaf. Significant landmarks within Northgate include the Northgate Mall, North Seattle Community College, and the Sheihk Idriss Mosque. Historically, the Coast Salish native people had used Licton Springs as a spiritual and therapeutic spa. Northgate is now home to a large immigrant population, students and seniors. Native American descendants include the Duwamish Tribe.
“Home is a place you grow up wanting to leave, and grow old wanting to get back to.” – John Ed Pearce
The schedule for Project HomePoem will be finalized once the creative team is brought on board. Generally speaking, community engagement will happen over a six-week period after a four-week period of research and forging partnerships. The finished artwork will be in place for three years and may be refreshed with new panels and new poems over the course of that time, budget permitting.
The inspiration for this artwork is derived from an exercise I designed for myself many years ago, in graduate school, a two-year period when I felt intensely distant from every place and everyone that I would venture to call “home”. As part of my thesis, I wrote a series of directional poems, leading to the places I loved, in order to feel closer to “home” over such great distances.
Walk out the driveway
Up the hill
Past the lighthouse
Past the beach
Take your 2nd left
Cross the causeway
When you reach the pier
Look for the old machine shop
The combination for the door
Is the year
The civil war began
Considering the diversity and disparity of Northgate, Project HomePoem is rooted in the idea of creating art that speaks through text as a means to connect one’s personal space, home, to the public sphere of a transit center, where we all cross paths. By providing an opportunity to visually voice the writings of the community, I hope that Project HomePoem will help the neighborhoods within this community to speak with and through each other and that it serves as a reflection of our movements in transit and the stillness of home. From this, we all may derive a deeper sense of place.
– Perri Howard
VMG: Velocity Made Good