Where the Streets Are Filled With Ideas

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The New Museum's biennial Ideas festival presents hundreds of concepts for productive change in the City

This past weekend was alive with innovation as Ideas City - a multi-day festival of presentations, exhibitions, workshops and panels which aims to take New Yorkers' ideas about improving the city, and urban living in general, to the people to whom these ideas matter most - hit the streets.

Four days of demonstrations and performances, founded by the New Museum in the Bowery under this year's theme of "untapped capital," included ways to bring art and green space to public places, more efficient and environmentally friendly versions of items we already use on a regular basis and far more.

According to the event's official website, Ideas City, founded in 2011, in addition to facilitating conferences and a massive outdoors street festival around the Bowery neighborhood, incorporates more than one hundred independent projects and public events that are "forums for exchanging ideas, proposing solutions, and accelerating creativity."

The New Museum's director Lisa Phillips explained: "As an institution dedicated to new art and new ideas, the New Museum strongly believes that the cultural community is essential to the vitality of the future city."

"We also believe that the cultural sphere is still a relatively untapped source of enormously powerful creative capital," she added, "Especially in its potential to stimulate economic development and foster greater innovation in other fields."

The Ideas City StreetFest, a family-friendly affair, included such highlights as a "sweat your own battery" lodge; more efficient means of turning urban landscapes into playgrounds; blueprints for the city's "Lowline" (an underground park in development); mobile libraries and art studios and far more.

Meanwhile, the conference component focused on places untapped capital can be used in urban development, including "ad hoc strategies," "waste," "play" and "youth."

While Ideas City has come and gone for now, affiliated global conferences continue to promote ideas for productive urban change worldwide and New Yorkers, continually on the very cusp of major urban rejuvenation, have had the opportunity to familiarize themselves with hundreds of projects underway in the city with an eye toward the future.

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