By Wynnie Gross — CultureHouse Intern, Spring 2021

Since their conception in the 1950s, Malls have been closely linked to the development of American consumerism and modern culture. But malls are dying. The COVID-19 pandemic only accelerated a demise that was underway. Malls are closing at a rapid rate, leaving towns and cities with a consequential question — What should mall space be used for now?

As CultureHouse, an organization that, “improves livability in local communities by transforming unused spaces into vibrant social infrastructure,” we are interested in ways that mall spaces can be used for community oriented development. Whether…


By Aaron Greiner — CultureHouse Founder and Director

At CultureHouse, we create spaces that defy norms. We often describe our community pop-ups as indoor public parks, communal living rooms, and third spaces. We do this because there is no clear parallel to existing infrastructure that exactly matches what our pop-ups encompass. In essence, our spaces are living examples of what I call Queer Urbanism — a new way of designing cities from the queer perspective.

Queerness and public space

Queerness is defined by public perception. One can only be queer — defined as “strange” or “odd” — in comparison to others. Though the LGBTQ+ community has reclaimed the word, it doesn’t change…


When it became clear that the impacts of COVID-19 were more than just temporary, outdoor dining and gathering became an important solution for allowing restaurants and community organizations to stay open. However, the changing seasons threaten the sustainability of this important economic and social solution. As the days get colder, the restaurants and other institutions that are thinking ahead to winter and coming up with creative solutions will remain ahead of the curve, while many will be left behind due to lack of outdoor heating and weather management solutions. Outdoor heaters are an important part of this picture.

Making the…


CultureHouse Harvard

If you find yourself strolling through Harvard Square on a summer afternoon, you might notice two murals on the CultureHouse Harvard kiosk. On your left, the lush and vibrant colors of a mural by Valerie Imparato will draw your eyes to the three beautiful Black women gazing out into the square. On your right, the whimsical mural by Curtistic might cause you to puzzle or even laugh at the silly scene of an alligator falling from the clouds into the city skyline.

Why are these murals here? Is it really important to decorate our buildings and public spaces? It might…


By Andrew Schnurr

Over the past few months, you’ve seen people reciting the mantra, “This too shall pass.” It’s true that these challenging times will resolve, but we must also acknowledge their impacts will remain for a long time. Looking at the world through the lens of public life, few areas will be more impacted than indoor public spaces. Whether it’s our local libraries, museums, or even shopping malls, the impacts of COVID-19 on these places will be visible for years. We can’t expect to return to what we once had, even once we have a vaccine. …


On the evening of July 6th, 2019, over 60 people came to a previously-vacant storefront on an otherwise-empty street in Kendall Square’s Canal District to just… hang out. On that rainy Saturday, they played ping pong, drank free tea, made tie-dyed t-shirts, and spilled out onto the sidewalk. They brought their families, friends, and neighbors. They talked with people they knew and made connections with people they didn’t. A warm glow emanated from the large picture windows of 500 Kendall Street, inviting people in from the dark and stormy summer night. This vibrant, warm, and energetic gathering might not seem…


CultureHouse Harvard is home to a new piece of public art, created by Cambridge-based artist Valerie Imparato and funded by Cambridge Arts. We asked Valerie about her inspirations, her artistic process, and her hopes for her newest mural.

A lot of your artwork, including this mural, features women of color. Tell us a little bit about the goals of your work in general, and how this mural contributes to them.

As a Black woman, I have grown up in a world in which there aren’t enough Black women presented as beautiful. Black women are somehow simultaneously de-feminized and sexualized. We’re…


“Signs of COVID-19” is a series of photographs on display in the windows of CultureHouse Harvard and online at cloud.culturehouse.cc/gallery. Prints are available with a $50 donation to CultureHouse, a nonprofit that creates pop-up community spaces in vacant storefronts. $25 of every donation will go to Black Lives Matter Boston.

What inspired you to choose signs as your subject for this series?

I’m a street photographer. I spend a lot of time walking around Boston, looking for light, people, and moments. Chinatown is near my office, so I wander there often. Chinatown businesses were hit very early on when the…


The coronavirus is set to cause a loneliness epidemic.

Social distancing is the most effective way to reduce community spread. That means many community spaces like CultureHouse have had to make the difficult decision to close their doors. While we believe our temporary closure is the right decision, we also take seriously the negative impacts of closing social infrastructure and are working to address those impacts.

As Ezra Klein reported in Vox, “just as the coronavirus fallout threatens to cause an economic recession, it’s also going to cause what we might call a ‘social recession’: a collapse in social contact…


If you’ve ever asked a member of the CultureHouse team about our inspirations, I guarantee Copenhagen was brought up. Our love of the Danish capital is no secret — and we think Boston can learn a lot from Copenhagen’s best practices.

That’s especially true in the winter. The Danes may have their faults, but they’ve certainly gotten wintertime public life figured out. We’re not the only ones who’ve caught on to the Danish discovery that winter doesn’t have to be a sad slog towards sunnier days — their idea of hygge was very popular a few years ago.

We think…

CultureHouse

CultureHouse improves livability in local communities by transforming unused spaces into vibrant social infrastructure.

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