Brisbane curator Lani Pauli interviews Amy Saunders, founder of upcoming event UR{BNE} and landscape architect.

Tell us more about how UR{BNE} came to be?
A group of us started a collective called UR{BNE} which was a group of people interested in, or already doing, creative things in public, urban spaces in Brisbane. As a group we would support each other’s ideas and try to help each other out by helping develop ideas and networking.

Yen, an active member of the collective, brought along the idea of a creating a festival about urban design, public spaces and Brisbane. So as a collective we have been developing the UR{BNE} Festival which is about creating greater public involvement, dreaming ideas for a better Brisbane, assisting with the understanding of how urban places are designed, building pride and interest in Brisbane’s places and generally livening up our city.

We imagine that the creative contributions may include outdoor public art, public theatre, public musical acts, dinner in public spaces, walking tours, bicycle tours, design and build activities, exhibitions, design book launches, public art tours, talks in or about public spaces, community story telling, iPhone apps, community projects, public space drawing and anything else creative that is about public space, urban design and Brisbane’s community.

People can contribute their ideas on our website and come along to our Ideas Café on 1 March to help develop their ideas and make them a reality!

Who do you think is doing cool stuff in our industries?
IDEO are doing some very interesting work with their human-centred design approach on and their participatory design methods on . In Australia, Co Design Studio are also doing some great human-centred collaborative design!

A local, David Engwicht, has always been a hero of mine. He is taking his innovative Place Making ideas and teaching others in his upcoming workshops.

Arthouse Co-op are doing some very interesting things with their Sketchbook project and their other projects open for public participation.

I’m a big fan of the Rebar collective in San Francisco. Their PARK(ing) Day concept (which myself and some others promote in Brisbane), started my interest in participatory design to revitalise and personalise our city.

What was your first job?
Selling snags at the Burrum Heads Amateur Fishing Easter Classic (I was paid in sausages). My first job in design was at EDAW (now AECOM).

What’s the hardest challenge you’ve had to face work-wise?
Reality. The reality of the development industry. I guess I deal with this by flexing my creative muscles outside paid work – so I feel like I have balance in my life.

What’s the biggest opportunity and challenge for Brisbane to become a truly “Creative City”?
A great challenge in Brisbane is for every individual is to get past the perception that the creativity of our city is someone else’s responsibility, that it’s the council’s, or an arts group’s responsibility. Every person in our city can and should contribute to our city in their own creative way. It could be as simple as wearing a crazy hat, or participating in the Red Swing Project and tying a swing to a tree in a park.

We need to empower our citizens to feel as though they can contribute creatively to our city (this is one of our aims for PARK(ing) Day and UR{BNE}).

Another challenge is respect. Respect for all generations, people of different cultures and different backgrounds and celebrating their creative contribution to our city.

We have a great opportunity in that we are a friendly city, with a beautiful subtropical climate and we should be very proud and want to “show off” our creativity to the world!

What are some local upcoming events you recommend?
The UR{BNE} Ideas Café on 1st March
Lazy Sunday Cycle on 11th March
Asia Pacific Design Library Lecture Series 2012 from 13th March to 29th May

What’s next?
I’m looking at organising Diner en Blanc for Brisbane, as the closing ceremony of UR{BNE}! Very exciting!

You can follow Amy on Twitter here.