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Be the Street

A Performance Studies Project on Human Mobility and Placemaking

OSU’s Be the Street (BTS) was a community-engaged performance project dedicated to creating collaborative spaces with and for community within the Hilltop neighborhood through storytelling.

Series of six images depicting the Hilltop in Columbus, Ohio

In an era marked by global migration, war refugees, and terrorism, it is more important than ever to understand both how the uprooted, displaced, and re-located find ways to constitute community and how receiving communities constructively incorporate new residents. What are the tensions that human mobility generates? How do constructions of place affect the well-being of uprooted and host communities? How do our policies, institutions, and physical environment as well as our everyday performative strategies impact the lived reality of long-term residents and new arrivals? Who is included and excluded from the process of community formation, and why? What performative phenomena impede community formation? Where in our existing social structure do we find opportunities for performative interaction across difference? How does placemaking at the grassroots level interact with city or state-level initiatives to engineer attractive and welcoming environments?

Be the Street seeks to respond to these urgent questions by developing performance work in partnership with local communities in order to reflect upon the making and re-making of place. Visit the Be The Street website to learn more about the project.

The research team is led by Ana Puga (Theatre/Spanish and Portuguese) with co-investigators Katey Borland (Comparative Studies/Folklore), Paloma Martínez-Cruz (Spanish and Portuguese). Moriah Flagler (Theater) was the postdoctoral director of Be The Street from 2018-2021. The Center for Folklore Studies Folklore Archives houses interviews, event recordings, photographs, and ephemera for Be The Street. Contact the archives at cfs@osu.edu for access to materials.

Be The Street's Instagram handle is @btsosu, and here is a link to their Facebook page, "Be the Street: Connecting and Making Change through Storytelling": https://www.facebook.com/bethestreetosu/ 

Be the Street was a Humanities and the Arts Discovery Theme Project at The Ohio State University.