Charlotte Center City Partners Community Trust
Rail Trail Symphony
Next to a high-traffic pedestrian trail, bike-share and light rail station, a 7' x 29' patch of grass will be transformed into a lively place for self-expression and exercise of the mind and body. Rail Trail Symphony will be an installation of colorful, musical instruments that offers an exciting interlude in daily routines and bridges social divides by encouraging collaborative jam sessions with neighbors.
Kids and families will bang on drums and chimes, sing to passersby from a performance platform, scribble favorite lyrics and compose new melodies on a chalkboard, dance on imaginative stamped concrete and wave to the trains while jumping on creative seating. This ensemble of physical components will work in harmony to facilitate fun, casual interactions and conduct a beautiful "sidewalk ballet" starring Charlotteans from all walks of life.
The rail corridor has historically been viewed as a barrier between neighborhoods, but is now being re-envisioned as a community "zipper" -- a quality public place that connects neighborhoods rather than separates them. This vision hinges on the Charlotte Rail Trail, a 4.5 mile path that runs along the light rail line through 10+ diverse neighborhoods. Over 2,000 people walk and bike the Trail every day, but a recent Gehl Studio study observed that the Trail is currently only for people in motion. With so many daily users and so few places to rest, interventions like seating and plazas could make the Trail a truly "sticky" public space. Rail Trail Symphony presents a unique opportunity for people to pause, linger and connect.
In partnership with the Bethlehem Center, a non-profit that provides family enrichment services, and Playmore Design, a local playground equipment fabricator, we will seek project input from families over dinner and drum circles at our workshop. We will then create instruments to be installed near New Bern Station, the light rail stop closest to historically low income neighborhoods under immense development pressure where many of the Center's families live. We've involved these families in previous Rail Trail projects. Now their ownership of this convivial installation will grow community pride and enhance their experience of the Trail as both a recreational amenity and safe alternative for commuting to work and school.
Easily accessible to a wide range of kids and families, Rail Trail Symphony's open invitation to play will foster connections through the simple joy of making music.
- Erin Gillespie