Visual Arts

Community Living Project: Fostering Social Justice and Creating Community for Phoenix Artists

​Many artists make statements with their work, and many artists collaborate on shows to promote the awareness of causes they feel are important.

Catie Tombs and Elane Spivak are taking the collaborative process a step further and are attempting to create a community in the heart of the Phoenix art district dedicated to social justice causes.

The two announced their plans in last month's Roosevelt Row newsletter to open a new communal living space for artists with affordable housing and a close-knit environment in hopes of fostering creativity.

"Social justice organizing is what we'll focus on," Spivak says. "All of the community members decide to live in the house with that goal in mind."


Spivak and Tombs say the Community Living Project in an idea inspired by similar co-ops, specifically Tucson's Restoration Project/Casa Mariposa (without the religious focus), and grew out of their desire to help people released from detention centers.

"Our friend works for an organization that works with people who are released from detention centers with nowhere to go," Spivak says. "We wanted to have a space where someone could spend a few nights if they need to -- people released from detention centers, people that are coming to Phoenix to organize, people just passing through."

The organizers also say they've finally found a suitable property, which was harder than they imagined.

"We wanted to stay in Central Phoenix, and finding a house that's big enough for what we have in mind is really difficult," Spivak says. "I think we actually found a house that's in the area that we want. It's not as big as we want, but maybe we'll be able to rent out another house on the same block and set up a collaboration."

Spivak says that space is limited, and they are already considering partnering with another group to set up a similar community nearby in order to accommodate for demand.

Currently they plan to have at least six rooms that would be rented out for $275 a month, plus utilities, with the option to share a room at a lower rate.

"Hosting someone is definitely a collaborative project, especially because we all have our own jobs. It'd be nice for a whole community to take someone in," Spivak says. "In creating community and creating a space for ideas and collaboration to surface with [social justice] in mind, I think something great can come out of it."

For more information, contact Tombs and Spivak at [email protected].

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Joseph Schmidt
Contact: Joseph Schmidt