As it gears up for the first meeting of the Placemaking Leadership Council in Detroit from April 11-12, planning nonprofit Project for Public Spaces (PPS) has come out with an article clarifying the connection between placemaking and gentrification, the essential elements of a successful placemaking process, and the potential pitfalls of "creative placemaking."
One topic the article tackles is the the rise of the “creative” modifier in the debate around placemaking. Based on a misinterpretation of Richard Florida's Rise of the Creative Class, argues PPS, creative placemaking shifts the emphasis from inclusiveness to exclusivity and competition. Rather than treating cities and neighborhoods as already existing communities, the pitfall of this kind of placemaking is the assumption of a tabula rasa urban condition open to importing community members and economic drivers and causing gentrification. It can also put cities in competition with one another to attract and retain a creative workforce rather than focusing on improving local resources.
While identifying the typical markers of vibrancy as active art and music scenes and plenty of restaurants, PPS argues that ultimately "people are vibrancy" and that the most important provision of placemaking is a forum for ongoing community conversations, not simply the best place to have gelato.