artistic venture at the point of intersection of art and society
The Bus to the Future
What would you call Your bus line that leads your city to the future?" This was the question posed REINIGUNGSGESELLSCHAFT in order to create a community discussion. The goal was to spur community thought on creating sustainable options in and around the city of Columbus, the capital of Ohio. Through interviews and a community workshop, suggested names were collected and displayed on bus stop signs and shelters.
The project stimulated a public conversation on the challenges and hopes for Columbus’ future. In the framework of “Finding Time“, the Columbus Public Art 2012 program REINIGUNGSGESELLSCHAFT realized the project in Columbus/ Ohio in cooperation with the bus company COTA. During a field research of more than two weeks REINIGUNGSGESELLSCHAFT rode several bus lines. The routes passed downtown, residential neighborhoods for middle class and lower middle class people, abandoned housing areas, poor neighborhoods with thrift stores and pawn shops and stereotypical shopping malls. The urban sprawl of the infrastructure is connected almost exclusively by car based roads and highway systems which divide communities and people over long distances.

During the research RG interviewed several representatives from institutions, organisations and initiatives of different professional backgrounds such as public transportation, urban and regional planning, social engagement, housing and environmental protection. As a result a holistically oriented workshop took place. The workshop brought together representatives from different fields, for example COTA employees, representatives of the Afro-American and Hispanic minorities, the Humanity Department of the Ohio State University, the Columbus College of Art and Design, the municipality and bike initiatives. The objective of the participative workshop was to identify indicators for a sustainable development. The workshop was divided into three parts. In part one the participants were asked to combine photographs taken during our bus rides with pictograms and key words from statements of the municipality, city institutions and the organisations and initiatives we had invited for the workshop. The participants assembled their personal combinations of these three modules in order to visualize their viewpoints and analyses of the city. In part two participants showed their combination results and spoke about their associations and how this combination is connected to their professional and institutional or non-institutional backgrounds. Part three was about deepening the topics pointed out by several participants.

Four working groups where arranged to discuss the future of mobility, energy, liveable communities and local potentials. In the working groups participants discussed the weak points and potentials of the existing system: what to keep, what to drop, what to create in the near future to long term planning. One representative of each group presented the results to the auditorium for discussion. RG transformed the results of the workshop into a future agenda and created a bus stop system which reflects the challenges of the future in urban environments. Additionally bus shelters and posters in the bus were used to invite customers to take part in the discussion about the future of their city.
The project was realised in collaboration with Central Ohio Transit Authority and Columbus Public Art 2012 temporary art works in public spaces The program was curated by Malcolm Cochran.