Strategy + Projects

Mariposa County
Creative Placemaking
Strategy

Between 2018-2021, Mariposa County Arts Council partnered with the Mariposa County Planning Department to develop a countywide Creative Placemaking Strategy. This is Mariposa County’s first cultural policy initiative. The Creative Placemaking Strategy used interactive and collaborative stakeholder engagement to develop a planning document that leverages art and design to promote a rich and compelling rural economy.

Adopted August 17, 2021
Funded by the National Endowment for the Arts Our Town grant program.



The Strategy aims to:

  • Promote a portfolio of authentic, engaging experiences that encourage tourists to stay in–rather than simply pass through–Mariposa en route to Yosemite. In turn, this will have a profound impact on local businesses and artists;
  • Increase community attachment and civic engagement by promoting equitable placemaking investments and production of placemaking deliverables that are more representative of Mariposa’s diverse and rich identity; 
  • Establish cross-sector partnerships between the arts community, government agencies, conservation and agricultural interests, tribal populations, human services organizations, and businesses to increase our community’s capacity to apply creative placemaking in support of our economy; and
  • Integrate creative placemaking efforts into existing and future infrastructure and other community assets.

Demonstration
Projects

Over the course of Creative Placemaking Strategy planning, the Arts Council and the Planning Department – along with cultural partners, the Southern Sierra Miwuk Nation, design consultants, Atlas Lab Inc. and policy organization Smart Growth for America – developed several demonstration creative placemaking projects connected to the stakeholder engagement process that provided opportunities for community input and informed recommendations for a suite of projects, programs, and policies.

PRJ 1: This Must Be the Place

PRJ 2: Ah-Lo’-Mah’

PRJ 3: Seed Share


This Must Be the Place

This Must be the Place was a participatory photography project that prompted residents to share photos of the places and events that make the community special. Community members were asked to select one photo of a cherished place, favorite event, or other personal and intimate depiction of Mariposa County’s sense of place, and to include a caption explaining the importance of the image, as well as some basic demographic information such as age and length of residency in the county. In addition to providing an outlet for civic engagement throughout the stay-at-home orders, this project elicited compelling primary source information to inform the Creative Placemaking Strategy. 

“This photo is of me and my brother Paul Vasquez at Bagby jumping into the Merced River. We’ve grown up in Mariposa. My dad Paul “Bear” Double Rainbow took us on many adventures documenting our life along the way. Swimming in the river with him and friends are some of our favorite memories.”

Above – Irene Vasquez for This Must Be the Place

Ah-Lo’-Mah’

Ah-Lo’-Mah’ is a demonstration project that asks questions about Mariposa’s identity, our relationship to this place, and the stories that make Mariposa unique. (Located along the Mariposa Creek Parkway – end of 5th St. Mariposa CA 95338) The piece is a part of the Mariposa County Creative Placemaking Master Plan, which will serve as a roadmap for future investments in many of the places and things that tell our community’s story and make Mariposa County a special place to visit and live.

Mariposa County is the ancestral land of the Southern Sierra Miwuk who have lived in and depended on the area’s diverse landscape for generations. Like many indigenous cultures, the Southern Sierra Miwuk’s close relationship to the land has led to a mastery of various techniques for using natural materials in ways that nurture the ecosystems, like the Mariposa Creek Corridor.

Ah-Lo’-Mah’ draws on the Southern Sierra Miwuk traditions of the basket-making, a practice that combines environmental stewardship, collaborative fabrication, and artistic expression to convey both the beauty of the county’s natural landscape and the richness of our cultural history and identity.


Seed Share

Following Ah-Lo’-Mah’, Seed Share, explores the relationships between healthy landscapes and vibrant communities. This project is connected to the Mariposa Creek Parkway project and efforts to:

  • Restore the Mariposa Creek corridor with: native riparian plants
  • Animate the creek corridor with the native wildlife species that are attracted to and sustained by them
  • Activate additional creative placemaking projects that investigate the landscape’s role in our local sense of place.

Located on the Mariposa Creek Parkway near 8th Street and Stroming Road, Seed Share invites County residents to extend the Mariposa Creek corridor to our larger community – your home, school, office, or wherever you feel connected to – by taking some of the native seeds that are shared in this installation and planting them in a place that is special to you. Planting and caring for these native species across the community will begin to create necessary biological pathways of viability and life for the pollinators, birds, and other species that rely upon them on both public and private lands in Mariposa.

The Mariposa Creek corridor is a riparian area with a unique ecology. The environmental processes that take place here—like hydrologic function, nutrient and water cycling, and the constant movement of energy downstream—create nourishing ecosystems that sustain many beautiful native species, while refreshing and protecting our community from fire, flooding, and drought. Of significance, Mariposa’s first human inhabitants, the Southern Sierra Miwuk, continue to use the creek’s native riparian species to meet a variety of traditional cultural, physical and spiritual needs.


More on Creative Placemaking

Creative Placemaking Strategy
View or download the full PDF document here.


Mariposa Creek Parkway
Explore Mariposa County’s ongoing project to develop and enhance community greenspace along the Mariposa Creek.


Recreation and Resilience in Mariposa County
Provide input on future parks and public recreation projects


Questions?
Email Daisy at phillips@mariposaartscouncil.org



The creation of the Mariposa County Creative Placemaking Master Plan is a partnership project between the Mariposa County Planning Department and the Mariposa County Arts Council. This project is supported by Atlas Labs and Smart Growth for American and is funded in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.