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By Laura Zabel, Springboard for the Arts

During the construction of a new light rail line, the City of Saint Paul has turned to its artists to help provide creative problem solving for small businesses and neighborhoods along the line. The City, in partnership with Springboard for the Arts and Twin Cities Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) created the Irrigate program to train and mobilize artists to create projects that support small businesses and engage communities during the inevitable disruption of construction.

In 18 months, 400 artists have participated in Irrigate and created over 150 projects, including a recent project that involved artist Christopher Lutter Gardella and The Black Dog Cafe. Chris and the owners and patrons of the Black Dog worked together to build a large black dog puppet. The dog serves as a sort of “mobile sign” during a time when construction was blocking the actual sign on the restaurant and as a neighborhood ambassador. See the project in action and see how artists can reframe challenges as opportunities and bring moments of joy and surprise to a neighborhood.

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