More than rooftop yoga and food trucks
This week Philanthropy Ohio welcomes guest blogger Nelson Beckford, describing efforts in placemaking.
Project for Public Spaces defines placemaking as the active process of planning, designing, managing and programming the public realm.
In essence, the goal of placemaking is to improve the functionality, aesthetics, social ability and comfort of our public realm. Two years ago, we hosted a convening with Fred Kent, the founder and president of the New York-based Project for Public Spaces (PPS).
Suffice to say, Mr. Kent and PPS have informed and inspired our thinking. Functional and beautiful places are signals—they reflect the hopes, dreams, pride, history and culture of a place.
Our responses to public spaces can be both visceral and subconscious. They conjure feelings that are sometimes hard to put into words, although one simple measure may be this: A great place is somewhere we want to spend time.
We use these spaces to recharge, relax, reflect, recreate and connect with nature and humanity. To see this in action, go to any park and watch how kids use the space. They play, they laugh, they make friends.
Last week, Mr. Kent and PPS went to Quito, Ecuador, to join delegations from around the world for the United Nations Habitat III. It’s a conference that happens only every 20 years. At the event, global leaders finalized an agreement—The New Urban Agenda—that provides direction on the future development of cities. As this agenda moves toward implementation, placemaking is being seen as a vehicle to bring together disparate agendas, causes and disciplines necessary to make our cities healthier, sustainable and more equitable.
“What defines the character of a city is its public space, not its private space.”
—Joan Clos, UN-Habitat
Senior Program Officer, A Strong Neighborhood
Saint Luke’s Foundation