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thoughts, ideas + dialogues on urban revitalization, smart growth + neighborhood development
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Award Given to Top Green Building and Urban Placemaking Sites

Award Given to Top Green Building and Urban Placemaking Sites | green streets | Scoop.it

Inspiration Kitchens in Chicago took home the Bruner Foundation’s Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence (RBA) gold medal, which comes with $50,000 in support for the project. Four other projects won silver medals and $10,000.


The biennial award celebrates “urban places distinguished by quality design and contributions to the social, economic, and communal vitality of our nation’s cities.” Since 1987, the Bruner Foundation has awarded 67 projects $1.2 million in support.

Inspiration Kitchens is an “entrepreneurial, nonprofit initiative” on Chicago’s west side. In an economically-challenged part of the city, this LEED Gold certified facility, with a 80-seat restaurant, serves free and affordable healthy meals.
The restaurant prides itself on being “earth-friendly, including our use of local ingredients, solar-heated water and sun-sensitive kitchen lighting.”

Four other projects won silver medals and $10,000: read the complete article for more details.

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Opportunity is Local (or: You Can’t Buy a New Economy)

Opportunity is Local (or: You Can’t Buy a New Economy) | green streets | Scoop.it

Truly great places are not built from scratch to attract people from elsewhere; the best places have evolved into dynamic, multi-use destinations over time: years, decades, centuries. These places are reflective of the communities that surround them, not the other way around. Placemaking is, ultimately, more about the identification and development of local talent, not the attraction of talent from afar.


Places aren’t about the 21st century economy. They are about the people who inhabit and develop them. They are the physical manifestations of the social networks upon which our global economy is built. Likewise, Place-making is not about making existing places palatable to a certain class of people. It is a process by which each community can develop place capital by bringing people together to figure out what competitive edge their community might have and improve local economic prospects in-place.

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Peter Jasperse's curator insight, February 6, 2013 1:16 AM

"If your strategy for improving local economic prospects is to drink some other city’s milkshake, you won’t get very far. It’s economic cannibalization. To really grow an economy, opportunity has to be developed organically within each community, and that requires that people dig in and improve their neighborhoods, together, for the sake of doing so–not convincing Google to open a new office down the road."

Pedro Barbosa's curator insight, February 6, 2013 4:20 AM

Trend: Opportunity is Local

 

Pedro Barbosa | www.pbarbosa.com | www.harvardtrends.com

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Common Spaces: Urbanism, Sustainability and the Art of Placemaking

Common Spaces: Urbanism, Sustainability and the Art of Placemaking | green streets | Scoop.it
As people become more engaged in the movement towards sustainable living, it stands to reason that they will first turn to the immediate environment. Outside the home, the debate is centered on the design and layout of community spaces; this is where placemaking offers valuable insights.

Placemaking, put simply, is the design of public spaces with the needs, desires, interests, and inspirations of the local community at heart. Frequently, this collaborative process can be found in what we might regard as a traditional, outdoor community area; a park or waterfront. However, as localism and sustainability take root within the priorities of decision-makers, we are also beginning to see community-minded design in more unconventional places. Ideal candidates for this new process include, for example, the layout and signage design for public service buildings such as police stations, hospitals and museums.

There are already some fantastic placemaking success stories. Indeed, the implementation of community-minded ideas is so widespread, it is difficult to pick out examples worthy of mention. The cutting edge of urban design is no longer where we design spaces with the public’s desires in mind; it is where we incorporate green thinking and technology into those spaces...
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What Makes a Great Public Destination?

What Makes a Great Public Destination? | green streets | Scoop.it

In a recent blog post, entrepreneur-turned-VC Mark Suster wrote about the necessary ingredients for a city trying o develop a successful start-up community. His advice seemed applicable to any community that’s trying to create a strong local sense of place, so we’ve retrofitted his recommendations to speak broadly to people who are working to transform their public spaces into magnetic destinations that are reflective of the diverse communities that surround them.


Stop by and read the complete article for details on the elements of great public spaces, including:

  • place capital
  • events
  • access to advocates
  • local press + organizational tools
  • placemakers
  • flagship public space
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What Makes a Successful Place?

What Makes a Successful Place? | green streets | Scoop.it

When public spaces work well, they serve as a stage for our public lives. So what makes some succeed while others fail?


Great public spaces are where celebrations are held, social and economic exchanges take place, friends run into each other, and cultures mix. They are the “front porches” of our public institutions – libraries, field houses, neighborhood schools – where we interact with each other and government. 

In evaluating thousands of public spaces around the world, PPS has found that successful ones have four key qualities: they are accessible; people are engaged in activities there; the space is comfortable and has a good image; and finally, it is a sociable place: one where people meet each other and take people when they come to visit.


Read the complete article for a more detailed explanation of the diagram illustrating the elements that contribute to successful public spaces, as well as the qualitative and quantitative criteria to consider when evaluating any given location or site...

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10 Ways to Improve Your City through Public Space

10 Ways to Improve Your City through Public Space | green streets | Scoop.it

Public spaces are increasingly being recognized as a crucial ingredient for successful cities, and for their ability to revitalize and create economic and social development opportunities.


Actually finding ways to build and maintain healthy public space remains elusive to many municipal governments, especially in the developing world. The vast web of streets, parks, plazas, and courtyards that define public space is often lacking, poorly planned, or without adequate citizen participation in the design process.
Recognizing these challenges, the Project for Public Spaces (PPS) released earlier this month a draft of their handbook Placemaking and the Future of Cities. It’s intended to serve as a best practices guide for those wishing to improve the economic, environmental and social health of their communities through the power of successful public space.


10 fundamental principles for placemaking have been identified by PPS as the keys to vibrant, safe, and attractive public spaces:


1. Improve Streets as Public Spaces
2. Create Squares and Parks as Multi-Use Destinations

3. Build Local Economies Through Markets

4. Design Buildings to Support Places

5. Link a Public Health Agenda to a Public Space Agenda

6. Reinvent Community Planning

7. Power of 10

8. Create a Comprehensive Public Space Agenda

9. Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper: Start Small, Experiment

10. Restructure Government to Support Public Spaces

 

Read the complete article for more on developing a positive public realm through the use of local resources, citizen participation, and strategic approaches to urban development...

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Creating Great Streets: What Does it Take? (Project for Public Spaces)

Creating Great Streets: What Does it Take? (Project for Public Spaces) | green streets | Scoop.it

We recently chatted with experts John Massengale and Victor Dover about their soon-to-be-released book Street Design, which details the art and practice of creating great streets for people. In researching this book, John and Victor traveled across the world evaluating and experiencing different kinds of streets. John is an architect, urbanist, owner of Massengale & Co LLC, and Board Member at the Congress for New Urbanism. Victor Dover is a Fellow of the American Institute of Certified Planners, Principal in the firm Dover, Kohl & Partners Town Planning, and a Board Member and National Chair of the Congress for New Urbanism...

 

Click on the link for the complete interview.

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National Arts Partnership Steps up Big for Community Revitalization

National Arts Partnership Steps up Big for Community Revitalization | green streets | Scoop.it
An innovative and impressive partnership of philanthropic, financial, and government institutions announced today the awarding of $15.4 million in grants to support cultural initiatives to revitalize and strengthen neighborhoods, towns and cities across the country. Based in Chicago and called ArtPlace, the organization is awarding financial assistance to 47 projects in 33 communities.

 

ArtPlace is a national collaboration of eleven major national and regional foundations, six of the nation’s largest banks, and eight federal agencies, including the National Endowment for the Arts. According to the organization’s website, the institutions are “investing in art and culture at the heart of a portfolio of integrated strategies that can drive vibrancy and diversity so powerful that it transforms communities” with “creative placemaking.” Since its founding, ArtPlace has raised almost $50 million for the concept...

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Is placemaking a "new environmentalism"?

Is placemaking a "new environmentalism"? | green streets | Scoop.it
Can placemaking - in short, the building or strengthing of physical community fabric to create great human habitat - be a “new environmentalism”? The question is posed by a provocative short essay, which I first discovered last summer. Written by Ethan Kent of the Project for Public Spaces, the article has recently resurfaced, perhaps in honor of yesterday’s celebration of Earth Day. The essay influenced my own writing last year (“The importance of place to sustainability”), and I’m returning to it today because the issues Ethan has raised continue to be important.

 

My answer, by the way, is a qualified yes: creating the right kinds of places for people, particularly at the neighborhood scale, has indeed become a new approach to environmentalism and one to which I am deeply committed. But I qualify my answer because placemaking is by no means the only important aspect of today’s environmentalism (not that Ethan suggested that). In addition, I think the physcal building of community can become even stronger as an environmental tool by becoming somewhat more explicitly environmental in its content.

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Freeways Without Futures | Congress for the New Urbanism

Freeways Without Futures | Congress for the New Urbanism | green streets | Scoop.it
The “Freeways Without Futures” list recognizes the top-ten locations in North America where the opportunity is greatest to stimulate valuable revitalization by replacing aging urban highways with boulevards and other cost-saving urban alternatives. The list was generated from an open call for nominations and prioritized based on factors including the age of the structure, redevelopment potential, potential cost savings, ability to improve both overall mobility and local access, existence of pending infrastructure decisions, and local support.

Cities around the world are replacing urban highways with surface streets, saving billions of dollars on transportation infrastructure and revitalizing adjacent land with walkable, compact development. Transportation models that support connected street grids, improved transit, and revitalized urbanism will make reducing gasoline dependency and greenhouse gas emissions that much more convenient. It pays to consider them as cities evaluate their renewal strategies — and as the U.S. evaluates its federal transportation and climate policy...

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Toward an Architecture of Place: Moving Beyond Iconic to Extraordinary

Toward an Architecture of Place: Moving Beyond Iconic to Extraordinary | green streets | Scoop.it

We all realize that a “sense of place” is of fundamental value to people everywhere — in every city, every town, every neighborhood, and every culture, for all ages.

At least, that is what the average person recognizes instinctively. It is a fundamental reality that all too often is missing from the discussion when it comes to architecture and design.

We want to steer the discussion about architecture and design toward the idea of place, and how it can contribute to healthy, comfortable, engaging public spaces and destinations. We will do that by examining both positive and negative examples. Our idea of an “Architecture of Place” is about creating design that ennobles people — that makes them feel empowered, important, and excited to be in the places they inhabit in their daily lives.

Whether we like the buildings as pure formal objects is another matter, and not of primary significance. What is truly significant is whether architecture creates a place. When we discuss a building, that criterion should be as important as whether it is “green” or “sustainable” or “iconic.”

 

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If You Want Nice People, Make Nice Places

If You Want Nice People, Make Nice Places | green streets | Scoop.it
"The biggest single obstacle to the provision of better public space is the undesirables problem," wrote William H. Whyte in his 1980 book The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces. "They are themselves not too much of a problem. It is the actions taken to combat them that is the problem."

Whyte’s book has been a bible of sorts for urban planners since its release. But the municipal officials who have been running the public spaces of San Francisco have, in their zeal to keep the city’s large homeless population out of sight, ignored or forgotten Whyte’s core principle that "the best way to handle the problem of undesirables is to make a place attractive to everyone else."

Now that might be changing. A recent New York Times article says that the city is rethinking its policy of removing seating and generally making its downtown plazas as uncomfortable as possible...

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Telling the Placemaking Story

Telling the Placemaking Story | green streets | Scoop.it

“Place matters” is a familiar declaration. Its common use shows that profiling places, especially creative, urban places, is very much in vogue. For instance, the phrase graces the Atlantic Cities masthead, is the title of a New York City project that protects distinctive local environments, frames a non-profit corporation and is a campaign of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

While placemaking is not a profession, it is certainly a practice that has spread across multiple disciplines, far beyond design and planning roots.

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All Placemaking is Creative: How a Shared Focus on Place Builds Vibrant Destinations

All Placemaking is Creative: How a Shared Focus on Place Builds Vibrant Destinations | green streets | Scoop.it

Placemaking is a process, accessible to anyone, that allows peoples’ creativity to emerge. When open and inclusive, this process can be extraordinarily effective in making people feel attached to the places where they live. That makes people more likely to get involved and build shared wealth in their communities.


“Placemaking, applied correctly, can show us new ways to help cultures emerge where openness is not so scary,” notes Dr. Katherine Loflin, the lead project consultant for the Knight Foundation’s groundbreaking study, which showed a significant correlation between community attachment and economic growth. “We could find with consistency over time that it was the softer side of place—social offerings, openness, and aesthetics—that really seem to drive peoples’ attachment to their place. It wasn’t necessarily basic services: how well potholes got paved over. It wasn’t even necessarily for peoples’ personal economic circumstances.”

The study’s other key finding was that there is an empirical relationship between higher levels of attachment and cities’ GDP growth.

Placemaking, in other words, is a vital part of economic development. And yet, there has long been criticism that calls into question whether or not this process is actually helping communities to develop their local economies, or merely accelerating the process of gentrification in formerly-maligned urban core neighborhoods. We believe that this is largely due to confusion over what Placemaking is, and who “gets” to be involved. If Placemaking is project-led, development-led, design-led or artist-led, then it does likely lead to gentrification and a more limited set of community outcomes.


Read the complete article for more on the process of placemaking and the roles community members play in creating vibrant spaces...

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Katharine Norman's curator insight, March 15, 2013 3:16 AM

Positive aspects from being connected to your community.

 

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The Economic Benefits of Great Public Places

The Economic Benefits of Great Public Places | green streets | Scoop.it

Sometimes it’s hard to define what makes a great place, but you know it when you experience it. Great places lure people in with activities, people watching, shopping or just the experience of being around others and feeling a sense of connection.


Does this only happen at organic farmers markets or outdoor cafes? Hardly. Placemaking doesn’t just occur in affluent communities or vacation hotspots. Chicago’s 26th street in Little Village, 18th Street in Pilsen, or the Glenwood Market in Rogers Park are evidence that the power of a vibrant public place transcends geographic and demographic boundaries.


Peter Kageyama, author of For the Love of Cities, writes that creating places worth caring about makes for strong communities. We couldn’t agree more.


For other posts from this series, visit sustainablecitiescollective.com.


Via Peter Jasperse
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Peter Jasperse's curator insight, January 11, 2013 12:20 PM

An article on how publica places, well designed and well maintained, draw people, lure retail opportunities, influence home values and with arts & culture produces high economic return.

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How a tough neighborhood is building a stronger future with vivid public art

How a tough neighborhood is building a stronger future with vivid public art | green streets | Scoop.it

A thriving inner-city cultural environment contributes to a healthy economic and social environment, which in turn produces significant benefits to the things we value in our natural environment: this is because the most effective antidote to the kind of sprawling outward development that has consumed our landscape, polluted our waterways and escalated harmful emissions across the US over the past half-century is a strengthening of our existing communities.


We particularly need our inner cities to be the kinds of places that will be loved and will endure – that will literally be sustained - over time. The human ecosystem is complex and, while making it healthy also requires a lot of things besides art, a holistic approach to placemaking that includes a key role for culture – especially homegrown culture – is essential.

That is exactly what Philly Painting is doing. To date, it is the most ambitious of many great projects sponsored by Philadelphia’s Mural Arts Program, the nation's largest initiative of its kind. Since 1984, the program has created over 3,000 murals and works of public art in the city, engaging over 100 communities each year in the process, according to its website. Mural Arts also sponsors free art education programs for youth, especially at-risk teens and, impressively,provides jobs to adult offenders in local prisons and rehabilitation centers, “using the restorative power of art to break the cycle of crime and violence in our communities.” If you are as interested in this sort of thing as I am, you’ll enjoy the program’s website, especially its sections on the program’s history and emphasis on community engagement.

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Place Capital: Re-connecting Economy With Community

Place Capital: Re-connecting Economy With Community | green streets | Scoop.it

Reform—of transportation, food systems, and so many aspects of the way we live—is no longer about adding bike lanes or buying veggies from a local farmer; the time has come to re-focus on large-scale culture change.

Advocates from different movements are reaching across aisles to form broader coalitions. While we all fight for different causes that stir our individual passions, many change agents are recognizing that it is the common ground we share—both physically and philosophically—that brings us together, reinforces the basic truths of our human rights, and engenders the sense of belonging and community that leads to true solidarity.

Even when we disagree with our neighbors, we still share at least one thing with them: place. Our public spaces—from our parks to our markets to our streets—are where we learn about each other, and take part in the interactions, exchanges, and rituals that together comprise local culture.


Read the complete article for more on the ideas and strategies that positively contribute to our public spaces and enhance interpersonal connections, economic opportunity and placemaking.

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Metropolitan Agriculture: One Size Doesn't Fit All

Metropolitan Agriculture: One Size Doesn't Fit All | green streets | Scoop.it
S, M, L, or XL-sized metropolitan agriculture? Mia Lehrer, FASLA, Mia Lehrer + Associates, said one size definitely doesn't fit all when it comes to cities, in a session at the ASLA 2012 Annual Meeting.

In an era where it seems like any school or community can start a garden, perhaps it’s time to step back and think about the bigger picture. What’s the goal? Lehrer thinks it’s comprehensive urban agricultural systems that are relevant to the unique cultural, social, and environmental conditions of a city. Metro-region agriculture, if planned, designed, and supported financially, can address issues related to social equity and health issues like diabetes and obesity, while building regional agricultural communities and economies.

The article discusses urban agriculture at varying scales, from the city to rural communities; this is because the footprint of any city really reaches far beyond the core — to the edges, to the suburban and rural communities and economies that make the whole metropolis work.


For more on this analysis of urban agriculture and how to best plan, develop and provide infrastructure for successful and sustainable revitaliztion projects that not only boost the local economy, but community health, read the complete article. Also included are links to resources, programs, and initiatives related to metropolitan agriculture.

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Adventure Playgrounds & Mutli-Use Destinations

Adventure Playgrounds & Mutli-Use Destinations | green streets | Scoop.it

There has been a recent burst of interest in adventure playgrounds, which “depend on ‘loose parts,’ such as water, sand, balls, and other manipulable materials.” Thoughtful articles from The Guardian‘s Justin McGuirk, Kill Screen‘s Yannick LeJacq, and Cabinet magazine’s James Trainor have each explored the history of this movement within the past couple of months, revisiting everything from Aldo van Eyck’s work in Amsterdam following WWII, to the unique cast of characters behind the surge of interest in London and New York in the 1960s.

To see so much solid new writing on this subject should be encouraging to anyone who hopes to see kids playing amidst wood chips again. Unstructured play is having a moment, and moments are meant to be capitalized on.

 

Cities are where us “grown-ups” play at leading meaningful and enjoyable lives, so it may be helpful (if anecdotal) to think of playgrounds as the staging areas for the cities of tomorrow. If we want to live in siloed cities, with offices here, houses there, and all quarters safely demarcated by wide arterial roads, we should probably go right on ahead building playgrounds where the slides and plastic tic-tac-toes cower away from each other. But if we want bustling, creative cities full of the surprise and serendipity that makes urban life so enjoyable, we might want to start thinking about playgrounds as microcosmic multi-use destinations...

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Donna Sharp's comment, July 26, 2012 3:25 AM
I think that the idea of adventure playgrounds is a wonderful idea; I even think that my two little boys would have the time of their lives there but I also think that there is a time and place for playgrounds of this type. I do not think that school yard playgrounds should be fully converted to such because the schools and districts first need to think about the children’s safety and it would be implausible to have enough adult supervision during recess.
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7 Ways to Disrupt Your Public Space

7 Ways to Disrupt Your Public Space | green streets | Scoop.it

Last week, Fast Company posted a list, adapted from the book Smart Customers, Stupid Companies, of 7 Ways to Disrupt Your Industry. Reading through the list, we were struck by how applicable the recommendations that the authors put forth are to our own principles for good Placemaking.

But it makes sense, when you think about it: by directly involving communities in shaping their public spaces–leading with people, not design–Placemaking is in fact a highly disruptive approach.

Placemaking tosses out the idea that an architect or planner is more of an expert about how a place should be used than the people who are going to use it. By bringing people together around a shared physical place, it’s also a powerful tool for disrupting local complacency. Great public spaces give people a tangible way to connect with their neighborhoods, building a stronger local constituency–aka sense of community–over the long term.

With that in mind, we’ve taken Fast Company‘s list and tweaked it slightly to create a roster of 7 Ways to Disrupt Your Public Space for anyone who’s looking to use a local spot to build social capital in their neighborhood...

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Complete Streets: One Size Does Not Fit All « Project for Public Spaces

Complete Streets: One Size Does Not Fit All « Project for Public Spaces | green streets | Scoop.it

Last month Gary Toth spoke at the Complete Streets Forum in Toronto about the symbiotic relationship between the Complete Streets and Placemaking movements. Early on in the talk, posted above in full, Gary points out that a complete street makes travel “safe, comfortable, and convenient” for all modes–but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it overtly provides for each one in its own area. Complete streets can often include flexible or mixed-mode areas (Salt Lake City’s green lanes are a great example), but the focus should be on creating a street that is welcoming to everyone, no matter the mode of travel.

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New Report: Livability and Placemaking for All Communities ...

New Report: Livability and Placemaking for All Communities ... | green streets | Scoop.it
I had the unique opportunity to participate in a “Smart Growth” bus tour of communities in North Carolina, organized last year by the Walkable and Livable Communities Institute and the Local Government Commission. We visited a variety of neighborhoods, from low-density to high, pre-car to newly developed, to learn how livable and sustainable principles can help a wide range of communities to adapt to meet the challenges of the 21st Century.

Important lessons can be learned from each of the communities we visited. None were perfect, but as Joel Garreau pointed out in Edge City: Life on the New Frontier, now-revered places like Venice and London were pieced together over centuries; flaws were frequently pointed out by critics, and fixed over time. Flaws in these places will be addressed over time as well. What is critical about each location is that they are testing out new ideas of what a sustainable future could look like. The neighborhoods that had the best sense of place were those that were created over a hundred years, and they serve as great models for how to take Traditional Neighborhood Development, Form Based Codes and other contemporary planning strategies to the next level...

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Remember the Edges! Placemaking for Communities

Remember the Edges!  Placemaking for Communities | green streets | Scoop.it

One of the key principles to remember when trying to create a great public square is that the inner square and outer square must work together. Active edges (sidewalk cafes, museums, shops) feed into the center; in turn, a lively scene at the heart of a square creates a buzz that draws more people to the area, generating more activity for edge uses. It’s symbiotic!

The video above illustrates this principle using imagery from our study of Alamo Plaza in San Antonio, Texas. Home to one of the most iconic buildings in America, the plaza itself is more of a place to stand for a photo op than a place where people linger and enjoy. As you can see, creating a sense of connection and flow between the inner and outer square is key to success.

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Helen Davis Johnson on Placemaking | Economics of Place

Helen Davis Johnson on Placemaking | Economics of Place | green streets | Scoop.it
Interesting places attract interesting people.

Cities that develop an increasingly large talent pool will be successful 21st century cities. Great places boast a strong identity; offering good food, and stimulating entertainment. In a strong city, there is access to successful educational systems, real opportunities to earn a respectable wage, to make valued connections and to be safe. These amenities are not accidental; they are the result of good planning and creative placemaking.

Without relevant options such as these, cities today lose credibility with bright, talented people. In an increasingly knowledge-based economy, one in which cities are competing to develop and attract talented citizens, engagement in creative placemaking activities is no longer optional...

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The Power of 10 « Project for Public Spaces

The Power of 10 « Project for Public Spaces | green streets | Scoop.it
The Power of 10 is a concept PPS uses to start off a Placemaking process. The idea is that it’s not enough to have just one great place in a neighborhood- you need a number of them to create a truly lively city or town. It’s not enough to have only one superior neighborhood in a city- you need to provide people all over town with close-to-home opportunities to take pleasure in public life. And, it’s not enough to have one livable city or town in a region- you need a collection of interesting communities.

Everywhere we bring up this idea, citizens become more energized to turn their places around. The Power of 10 offers an easy framework that motivates residents and stakeholders to revitalize urban life, and shows that by starting efforts at the smallest scale you can accomplish big things. The concept also provides people something tangible to strive for and helps them visualize what it takes to make their community great.

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