A commons-based economy cannot thrive without appropriate institutions, especially those that represent a "partner state" approach. Professor Christian Iaione of LUISS University in Rome is a pioneer of such institutional innovation in Italian cities. I believe his work with the city of Bologna on Bologna's Regulation for the Care and Regeneration of Urban Commons is a breakthrough.
Despite an admittedly strong preference for the automobile, Los Angeles and other forward-thinking cities are now re-allocating public (and private) land away from the car so that people can use the space for other purposes.
The automobile remains the best transportation option in all but a few U.S. cities. However, we can strike a better balance with how we use the precious resource of space in our cities. By dedicating so much land to traveling comfortably and quickly by car, we miss out on using that land to create interesting places to travel to. While some communities may still require copious amounts of parking and travel lanes, others are developing different neighborhood priorities, like green space, local business presence, or better biking and walking infrastructure. We need to plan for flexibility, for the accommodation of what we cannot yet imagine.
There is no doubt that in urban circles, and wider, placemaking is having its moment. It is talked about and delivered by planners and policy makers, artists, architects, activists and communities across the globe. We have Project for Public Spaces’ international cohort of placemakers, Placemaking Leadership Council. We have conferences the world over taking placemaking as their theme. We have multiple academic papers and media articles on placemaking. We have city authority’s worldwide naming and adopting placemaking approaches in their strategic plans.
Public space is an essential component of any great city. It brings people together to socialize, recreate, and work. It attracts people to the city, builds relationships, and spurs innovation and new ideas that fuel a city’s economic growth. How do we optimize the investments made in these spaces?
This text is my contribution to EDGECondition Vol. 5 on Placemaking.
The way in which local policy has been understood and the role of urban development projects have left a complex map of underutilized infrastructure, public facilities without financial support, failed housing developments, unfinished industrial developments and urban vacant lots for example. Climbing out of this crisis from a local policy perspective means finding ways to activate and convert these passives into public assets. The current state of permanent paralysis and widespread budget cuts which municipal policies are going through has led to a landscape of stalled projects, white elephants and stationary cranes. ‘Under construction’ or ‘Keep out’ signs draw a line to prevent any alternative use in these sites that will remain incomplete for years. Everything was planned but it failed and became out of date before it started to work.
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