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"Imagining" Harrisonburg.... in the Year 2034

On Saturday, May 23, Harrisonburg will be one of 16 municipalities nation-wide to host a regional “Imaginings” event sponsored by the U.S. Department of Arts and Culture. WMRA’s Kara Lofton reports.

Dare to imagine what your community will be like in the year 2034. How will it evolve and change? What would you like to see happen? Those ideas are what Jon Henry, Harrisonburg’s Cultural Agent for the U.S. Department of Arts and Culture hopes you will explore at this Saturday’s Imagining Harrisonburg event.

JON HENRY: It’s an art-infused event that brings together urban planning, community development, socialization, just brings everything together but through art as the vehicle for this kind of gathering and happening.

Henry said Saturday’s event, which runs from 1-4pm, will feature a poetry reading, chalk art, a landscape painter who will paint a futuristic landscape of Harrisonburg using what participants tell him are their dreams for 2034, various breakout sessions with local artists, and a hip hop artist. The whole point is to use art to create a safe space for community members to dream big.

HENRY: I’m really hoping that we come together during the event and actually create and imagine some really new radical possibilities.

Henry cited the diverse community that came together in opposition of the new Harrisonburg jail and the recent push for restorative justice in police work as evidence for how local residents are imagining the future. He hopes Imagining will be a fun way for more people to ask: what do we want our future to look like?

Kara Lofton is a photojournalist based in Harrisonburg, VA. She is a 2014 graduate of Eastern Mennonite University and has been published by EMU, Sojourners Magazine, and The Mennonite. Her reporting for WMRA is her radio debut.