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On-Site Staff / Partnerships and Building Relationships / Program Design, Development, and Quality

Engaging Young People in Creative Placemaking: Part One

Young people have inspiration, ideas, and unique problem-solving skills to contribute to community planning.  One of the most holistic ways of designing sustainable spaces and places is through creative placemaking. In this two-part blog post, I will share with you what creative placemaking is, the importance of it in our communities, and how we can use creative placemaking in our youth programs.

Creative Placemaking

One of the best definitions of creative placemaking is from Ann Markusen and Anne Gadwa: “In creative placemaking, partners from public, private, non-profit, and community sectors strategically shape the physical and social character of a neighborhood, town, city, or region around arts and cultural activities. Creative placemaking animates public and private spaces, rejuvenates structures and streetscapes, improves local business viability and public safety, and brings diverse people together to celebrate, inspire, and be inspired.  (Image Source: Smart Growth)

Let me start by asking you a couple of questions to ponder on as we talk about arts, culture, and our communities:

  • Do you believe young people are inherently creative?
  • What spaces and places are important in your daily life?
  • What assets do you observe in your personal life, neighborhood, place of work?

I personally do believe that young people are creative beings, in fact, we all are. Tom Borrup, a leader, and innovator in cultural community development work explains, “Creative community building engages the cultural and creative energies inherent in every person and every place” (Borrup, 2006, pg. xv).

Using the strategy of creative placemaking means we make a “commitment to the reinforcement and enhancement of the community’s identity while preserving the historic, cultural, economic, and cultural context of the community and our youth are a critical part of our community’s identity” (American Planning Association).

The Importance of Creative Placemaking

Creative placemaking operates at many different levels, is interdisciplinary, leads to more equitable and sustainable places, and is a process that can empower youth to creatively problem solve in their own communities.  Placemaking reminds residents of the importance of collective vision for the places they live in, builds upon the assets and potential in a local community, and results in public spaces that increase livability, connectivity, and prosperity. In “What is Placemaking,” Project for Public Space states it perfectly, “When people of all ages, abilities, and socio-economic backgrounds can not only access and enjoy a place, but also play a key role in its identity, creation, and maintenance, that is when we see genuine Placemaking in action”.

This image highlights creative placemaking’s key attributes, intangible qualities, and measurable data. 

Image credit: Project for Public Spaces

Visit the BOOST Breakfast Club blog on February 27th to read Part Two of this blog! I will be sharing examples of successful creative placemaking projects as well as resources and tools you can use!

For breakfast, I had an almond butter biscuit, banana, and iced coffee.

Author: @kristinstayer

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