This is the online stream for sharing conversations that happened throughout the Greater Bay Area from March through June 2012 around the question:

How can we collectively transform public education through the arts to create a better future for everyone?

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If the Bay Area is the Florence of the 21st century, what does the new renaissance look like?

SFMOMA education staff convened with members of the local community after a lecture with arts education theorist and Researcher Lois Hetland on February 3, 2012. We aimed to address the question, “If the Bay Area is the Florence of the 21st century, what does the new renaissance look like?” This post is a synthesis of many ideas and questions stemming from our conversations that day.

1. Where are we now? What are our current resources in the Bay Area?


•In the Bay Area we have more access to information than ever before and we have access to the past

•Social media tools

•The democratization of publishing and authoring tools

•This allows for greater participation and access

•The product is the moment when the process goes public

Entrepreneurial spirit:

•San Francisco is an influential city with regard to environment, economy and workforce

•Higher calling/world changing spirit

•In education and academics

•Huge potential for new models of education

•With multi-disciplinary collaboration

•Silicon Valley is the place where the action is


•Highly educated wealthy young billionaires

•Silicon valley

•Patronage and influence

•Government sponsorship


Public marketplace:

•Civic spaces



•Bike community

•Universities- CA public universities/research

•Media- access to social media/public media

•Public spaces

•Public art

•Urban density and environmental ethos

•Blossoming parklets and public spaces


•There’s diversity of place

•An edgy environment that forces tolerance (we’re on the edge of a continent). The foundation of the creative spirit happens at the edges. How does change happen at the periphery- local, grassroots, what impact can these things have on systems?

•Global populous in the Bay Area

•The Bay Area is a global biodiversity hotspot. We, “contain at least 0.5% or 1,500 species of vascular plants as endemics, and it has to have lost at least 70% of [our] primary vegetation.”

2. Where are we going? If we are nurturing a new Renaissance in the Bay Area, let’s look at some of our common values, needs, desires, observations and interests:

Educational values:

•Focus on exploration and discovery for the population- specifically people under 18

•Broadening education, bringing back creativity.

•View of the present as a, “learning wall”

•People in the community can bring the world of learning to life

•Integrate social change and education

•Making learning and education a sensory experience

•Education needs to be at the core of museums

Humans need:

•Connection/belonging both face to face and virtual

•Play and tinkering

•Models (as catalysts)


•Place is a series of networks

•Access and openness

•We need our guides and mentors

If the Bay Area is the Florence of the 21st century, what does the new renaissance look like? What does the art of the new renaissance look like?

•Creative and agile

•There will be a plurality of voices. Think about Doris Salcedo’s idea that, “we are a chorus.”

•The renaissance will be fast-paced

•There will be a digital, viral element


•Cross-disciplinary work increases your audience

•It will be participatory

•The new renaissance will be immersive

•It will be free

3. How do we get there? What is the renaissance we’re nurturing and how do we work towards it?


•Creativity is a new currency. We could use it to develop a new renaissance and a new world

•Creativity can be transgressive- a step beyond the boundaries

•When creativity is used in novel situations it’s ingenuity

What do we need?

•We need a concentration of catalytic forces to affect change, dislocation is the counter force to homogenization.

•Do we need a collective narrative to have a renaissance?

•We could use the cross-generational opportunities to create spaces where old and young interact. To mentor and be mentored.

What do we not know yet?

•There is outrage, but how do you harness outrage? How do we harness and redirect what is coming out of the Occupy movement?

•How do you know you’re in a renaissance? Is it hindsight or foresight?

•How aware were people experiencing the first renaissance that they were in a special moment in history? Does self/collective awareness of this special moment hamper or hinder? Can you compel a renaissance? Does it have to be organic?

What can the maker community teach us? Where do we celebrate the DIY and home school communities? For example, the beehive collective and victory gardens. Let’s look at these exciting nodes and do further research.