Breathing Lights included a thorough community engagement program, centered at neighborhood hubs in each city that were trusted and established community organizations. The engagement strategy was created to give voice to residents who live in the neighborhoods with the highest density of vacant buildings—a voice in what it is like to live among such vacancy and a voice in how to rebuild and shape their neighborhoods’ futures.
For eight months leading up to and during the Breathing Lights installation, neighbors, art audiences and cultural tourists participated in free events showcasing the unique assets of each community: tours, community arts awards, participatory art workshops, building reclamation clinics, youth media workshops and informational sessions about gentrification, preservation and land bank and housing policies. Opening weekends in each city brought a concentration of visitors and generated buzz. Neighborhood ambassadors led walking and trolley tours of the installation.