As 2009 draws to a close, it brings to mind the many successes and continuing challenges for the Placemaking movement throughout the year.
There is no doubt that Placemaking is expanding exponentially around the world. There is mounting interest from professionals and citizens who want to learn more about how they can make a difference in their communities on issues such as livability, sustainability and community well-being.
In both my personal and professional life this year, I learned a great deal about how people envision their communities evolving for the future. This has spurred discussions about planning ides to be put to practice in 2010, which will highlight four principle agendas that are needed to transform cities and towns:
1) Toward an Architecture of Place - Public institutions such as museums, government buildings, libraries and others can become important anchors for civic activity in every city by assuming a broader role within the community and adapting and evolving their buildings to host a broader range of activities.
2) Building Community through Transportation - The planning and design of transportation networks and streets can be reshaped to encourage economic vitality, civic engagement, human health, and environmental sustainability, in addition to serving peoples' mobility needs.
3) Public Markets and Local Economies - Public markets and farmers markets not only create dynamic community gathering places, but they can spin off a myriad of other community benefits - from revitalizing downtowns, to bringing fresh, healthy food to low income neighborhoods, to creating new business opportunities for immigrant entrepreneurs.
4) Creating Public Multi-use Destinations - In the competitive globalizing economy, great cities are becoming defined more and more by their great public destinations-user friendly, lively squares, waterfronts, great commercial streets, markets or combinations of all of these. Placemaking provides the way for cities to redefine their vision around creating or enhancing these destinations.
Seeing that Placemaking is the Talk of the Town, together we can begin to frame a discussion about creating a more effective planning process for public spaces. My goal is to create a more thorough process in which cities can foster not only successful public spaces but also a stronger leadership within communities to continually maintain and improve these spaces. Great public spaces require strong leadership groups that make the community vision a reality so that little by little, the public begins to "own" the space.