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Reimagining the Social Value of Public Spaces

While they're often treated as mere assets to be maintained or abandoned for other uses, public spaces can be an active part of cities' plans for equitable revitalization.
June 2, 2019, 11am PDT | Philip Rojc | @PhilipRojc
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Andrew F. Kazmierski

"In an era when people are more isolated than ever and distrust in government runs high, it's imperative that we reimagine public spaces as more than just physical assets to maintain but as platforms for equity and neighborhood revitalization," writes Akron, Ohio's mayor Dan Horrigan.

Horrigan maintains that cities should invest in the public spaces they have, rather than walk the "seductive but hollow path" of abandoning public spaces that no longer seem worth maintaining. In Akron, he writes, "we have prioritized our public spaces because the investments we make in them have a protective function in our neighborhoods."

He discusses Akron Civic Commons, a project drawing on philanthropic funds to revitalize a three-mile stretch of trail with equity and diversity in mind. According to Horrigan, "early data is showing more income diversity utilizing improved spaces, stronger belief that the neighborhood is changing for the better, and a higher percentage who feel safe in their community."

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Published on Wednesday, May 22, 2019 in Governing
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