The Project

My Park, My Pool, My City was a three-year artistic residency led by Forklift Danceworks in partnership with the City of Austin Parks & Recreation Department’s Aquatics Division and several East Austin neighborhoods. Using collaborative art making, My Park, My Pool, My City activated and amplified civic engagement around the future of Austin’s city pools.

Austin faces a severe infrastructure crisis due to the high cost of maintaining an aging aquatics system where most pools are 50+ years old. This issue is confounded by class and racial privilege as wealthier residents can choose to use private country clubs or backyard swimming pools while poorer residents have few or no options for swimming when public pools are closed or under-resourced. With the release of an Aquatics assessment and first ever Aquatics Master Plan, momentum was growing city-wide to find the means to maintain a more sustainable, accessible, and equitable public pool system. In November 2018, Austinites addressed this concern by voting in favor of a city bond package that included $40 million designated towards the Aquatics system.

My Park, My Pool, My City was conceived after a successful collaboration between Forklift Danceworks and Austin’s Urban Forestry Program in 2015, when Sarah Hensley, then Director of Austin’s Parks & Recreation Department, turned to Forklift’s lead artists Allison Orr and Krissie Marty and asked, “Will you please do pools next?” Honored and somewhat perplexed, Allison and Krissie spent two years in conversations and planning meetings with Austin’s Aquatics Division. Through listening to city staff and residents, they came to more fully understand the importance of pools as public gathering spaces and the challenges Austin’s pools currently face.

Each year for three years starting in 2017, My Park, My Pool, My City centered on one East Austin neighborhood. In addition to three summer performances, Forklift Danceworks hosted and participated in town hall gatherings, community workshops, film screenings, and—of course—pool parties leading up to and following each show.

With My Park, My Pool, My City, Forklift Danceworks brought together citizens, city staff and policy makers in a creative participatory process to encourage people to talk about this policy issue as it unfolds.

• Explore the site to learn more about the people, the pools and the process
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