Big City Forum / Big City Lab
Big City Forum (BCF) was founded by Los Angeles based artist, educator, and activist Leonardo
Bravo. It started out as nomadic and irregular conversation gatherings that sought to bring attention to emergent practices across design, architecture, and the arts and provided an ongoing exploration of the intersections between design-based creative disciplines and public space, the built environment, and social change.
As a social practice Big City Forum is committed to exploring the forms of social space that emerge from the nexus of community-based initiatives, new forms of urban activation, and public civic engagement. It seeks to rethink the spaces of everyday life — how people are using these and how they should be designed in order to engage the community and activate the idea of a commons, public space. Creativity and the arts best signify, the emergence of potentiality, of new forms, of a space in which dominant narratives can be renegotiated and bypassed. Big City Forum functions as a space in which ideas can actualize an agenda that calls for framing complex social issues through dialogue and collaborative inquiry. The goal has always been to sidestep scholarly discourse and enact social change projects that begin to permeate the space of the everyday.
One of the main projects developed through BCF is an education initiative, Big City Lab that will function as a school-based residency in middle and high schools. Through Big City Lab students from urban, under-resourced communities will explore the history, storylines, and social conditions embedded in cities and their neighborhoods by examining issues related to identity, mobility, density, migration, public space, and cultural capital. We will facilitate experiences for students that bring the built environment to life connecting to professionals in the design disciplines and engaged in public space. In addition students will gain a sense of individual and community based solutions to everyday social challenges. The project will engage their imagination by creating dynamic new ways to create personal narratives around transformation and self-empowerment.
Big City Lab will launch in partnership with the Camino Nuevo Charter Academy High School – Miramar Campus in the greater MacArthur Park community Los Angeles and a group of 9th grade students enrolled in an Ethnic Studies class.