The Secrets of 'Place Making' Success

Some well-meaning urbanists try a place-making-in-a-box approach. Their efforts would resonate more if they took the neighborhood’s history and culture into account.
July 18, 2017, 11am PDT | Casey Brazeal | @northandclark
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Kenneth A. Wilson

Best practices for place-making encourage improvements in walkability, public transit access, and use of public space, but Sahra Sulaiman argues that the effects of place making are limited, especially when what needs to be "made" are communities. 

Sulamiman uses Leiment Park Village's Mask Festival as an example of the type of activation urbanists can miss. "It was an incredible day of beauty, grace, community, unity, resilience, culture, heritage, love, family, and transcendence," Sulamiman writes in Streetsblog LA. Sulamiman argues that for many who have been marginalized, this kind of festival represents a way to engage with public spaces, for communities that might not do so for a variety of reasons. "In many historically marginalized urban neighborhoods, decades of disenfranchisement and the repressive policing that accompanied it created great insecurity in the public space and, over time, eroded bonds of social trust between neighbors," Sulamiman argues.

"The success of cultural events like the mask festival (and the fact that it grows every year) serves as a reminder that much more than polka dots are needed for communities to believe a space is truly meant for its people," Sulamiman writes.

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Published on Tuesday, June 27, 2017 in Streetsblog LA
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