My Park, My Pool, My City

A multi-year collaboration about the future of our city pools

“Part civic engagement initiative, part ethnography project, and part movement performance, My Park, My Pool, My City attempts to help us better cope with these unknowns and understand the challenges, in typical Forklift fashion: by showing us the humans and demystifying the work.”
– Jonelle Seitz, The Austin Chronicle

My Park, My Pool, My City is a three-year artistic residency led by Forklift Danceworks in partnership with the City of Austin Parks & Recreation Department (PARD) / Aquatics Division and several East Austin neighborhoods. Through the co-creation of community-based performances at three different East Austin public pools, along with neighborhood gatherings and short film screenings, My Park, My Pool, My City uses community-based art-making to activate and amplify civic engagement, particularly in historically marginalized and quickly changing East Austin neighborhoods.

Designed at the invitation of PARD leadership, this residency uses collaborative performance and artistic process to foster dialogue between between pool users, community stakeholders, and PARD staff in three different East Austin neighborhoods to address the complex issues confronting Austin’s aging aquatics system. As artists, our role is to activate and amplify existing community networks—of individuals, community organizers, community groups, PARD staff, and municipal leaders—toward the goals of collaborative dialogue and creative solutions. We use the magic of performance to bring people together in an open, humanizing exchange, working to spark real transformation in relationships as well as tangible policy changes that work to correct Austin’s long history of social inequalities.

Each year for three years, project activities will center on one specific East Austin neighborhood. In addition to creating new original performances, we’ll host town hall gatherings, community workshops, documentary film screenings, and—of course—pool parties leading up to and following each show.

Stay tuned to this webpage and join our email list as we post updates and project developments.


YEAR 1 // Bartholomew Swims

“It’s easy to get in a daily job and forget that it affects people to the extent that it does. This project has been a big motivating factor, rejuvenating the spark that what we do matters.”
-Paul Slutes, Aquatics Maintenance Supervisor and performer in Bartholomew Swims

The first performance, Bartholomew Swims, was presented in July 2017 at Bartholomew Pool and featured PARD staff and residents from the Windsor Park neighborhood. You can read more about that project HERE.


My Park, My Pool, My City – Citizens Advisory Committee

Forklift Danceworks has formed a Citizens Advisory Committee to help guide us as artists as we develop and implement this project. This advisory committee has given Forklift artists vital connections to the history and current life of participating neighborhoods. The committee also serves as a link between Forklift artists and the wider Austin community, helping to connect this project to other stakeholders and supporters across the city.

Laura Morrison (Chair) // Past City Council Member and Aquatics Advocate
Rodney Ahart // Executive Director of Keep Austin Beautiful, Windsor Park resident
Dr. Laura Cortez // Community Engagement Consultant
Jerry De La Huerta // Coach, Reagan High School
Emily Little // Barton Springs Conservancy Board Member and East Austin resident
Johnny Limón // East Austin leader
Jill Nokes // Previous Chair of Austin Parks Foundation board, Hyde Park Neighborhood Leader
James Nortey // Past President of Mueller Neighborhood Association
Pam O’Conner // Chair, Aquatics Advisory Board
Lynn Osgood // Urban Planner and Project Consultant
Jane Rivera // Previous Chair of Parks Advisory Board and East Austin leader
Frank Rodriguez // Senior Policy Advisor for Mayor Steve Adler
Arlene Youngblood // Aquatics Advocate and East Austin leader
Ladye Anne Wofford // Austin Parks Foundation

Thank you to our Kickstarter Backers who helped bring this project to life!

My Park, My Pool, My City is funded in part by the National Endowment for the Arts Our Town program.

This project is funded and supported in part by the Cultural Arts Division of the City of Austin Economic Development Department believing that an investment in the Arts is an investment in Austin’s future.