Hamilton Spectator: Data maps cultural assets in Hamilton 'hoods

August 28, 2014

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Article originally appeared here

Jul 25, 2014

New data maps cultural assets in Hamilton 'hoods

Hamilton Spectator

Mirror, mirror on the wall, which Hamilton neighbourhood is the most vibrant of all?

As the innovative year-long Expressing Vibrancy project wraps up, CoBALT Connects has released the first batch of data on Hamilton's cultural landscape.

"It's not about saying who is the most vibrant, but who is the most vibrant for you," says Jeremy Freiburger, chief connector and cultural strategist with CoBALT Connects.

The nonprofit organization — along with the city and McMaster University — spent a year measuring "cultural assets" in eight neighbourhoods across Hamilton including downtown Dundas, Locke Street South, James Street North, Barton Village, Ottawa Street, Waterdown, Westdale Village and Concession Street.

A group of volunteers toured each 'hood, taking stock of everything from the number of trees, benches and parking spaces to the gamut of annual festivals and events. Then another group — made up of volunteers aged 13 to 83 — toured the same spaces, capturing their thoughts and impressions in a 15-question survey.

The goal of the project is to identify the unique characteristics that enhance the experience of living, working and playing in a neighbourhood.

"It's about understanding where you want to fit in. A city shouldn't have 35 homogeneous neighbourhoods," Freiburger says, adding that his mother, for example, would likely look for different assets in a neighbourhood than he would.

To check out the results, visit the project website.

The second phase of the project involved a study at McMaster's LIVE Lab, where a group of volunteers filled out a survey about various neighbourhoods while EEGs simultaneously measured their brain responses.

The results of that test will be released in early fall, Freiburger said.

They are hoping to use the results to launch crowdfunding campaigns to improve or enhance the cultural assets in each of the eight neighbourhoods — say, for hanging baskets or street art murals.

"We are always about turning research into action," Freiburger said.




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