Charm Bracelet Project: Culture and Community on Pittsburgh’s North Side tells the story of cultural, educational and recreational organizations transforming traditional understandings of how institutions make community impact. This publication offers a portfolio of projects as well as descriptions and insights that showcase how a network of organizations worked collectively to foster vibrancy at the street level and constructively impacted Pittsburgh’s North Side, a corner of the city faced with substantial challenges.
Despite being ravaged by ill-founded urban renewal strategies of the 1960s and the collapse of industry in the 1970s and 1980s, Pittsburgh’s North Side boasts many of the city’s cultural assets. The institutions are separated not terrifically by space but significantly by a long history of independent operation. But an ambitious expansion of the Children’s Museum in 2004 that required significant community engagement signaled a change.
The ensuing partnerships and collaborations launched an intentional practice of sharing agendas and joining agendas by and between the ‘charms’ of the North Side. In 2006 the Children’s Museum sponsored a design competition funded by the National Endowment for the Arts that challenged local institutions, neighborhood residents, artists, designers, and philanthropy to “… identify potential strategies or approaches for connectivity” – and create a ‘bracelet’ on the North Side to strengthen family experiences, guide future development and invigorate the everyday spaces of a city.