Embracing Placemaking's Freak Factor

Realizing that overly controlled environments rarely breed the kind of innovation and culture that make cities great, Scott Doyon gets down with the funky and unpredictable.

"Truth Be Known posted an amusing photo juxtaposing a 50s-era Main Street with a modern Walmart. Given my interest in community and urban form, I was immediately drawn to the contrasts: the contribution of private buildings to public space vs. the warehouse in a parking lot; the attention to personal appearance and style vs. the slovenly, Kunstlerian cartoonsphere; the orderly street trees given way to cell towers; and the proud American products now replaced by Chinese imports," writes Doyon.

"It all seemed so ideal. Some distant time and place where aggressive panhandling, urban taggers, and drunken tourists simply didn’t exist."

"But then, with the help of the diverse comment stream accompanying the photo, I snapped out of it. And that’s because I was reminded that the sense of comfort and safety that existed (or seemed to exist) in the mid 20th century was achieved not through some profound sense of social harmony, decorum and mutual respect but through policies and behaviors that routinely deprived entire classes of people their rights to free assembly and speech."

Doyon goes on to talk about what it takes to nurture the kind of innovation and culture that make cities great. It isn't overly controlled environments, but rather the funky and unpredictable.

Full Story: Placemaking Gets Freaky

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