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Social Alchemy: Jim Walker on Placemaking as Utopian Experiment

Social Alchemy: Jim Walker on Placemaking as Utopian Experiment

People working in this field often get the same question: What, really, is placemaking? A good answer, in my view, comes from considering the “short-term action for long-term change” of tactical urbanism and the “lighter, quicker, cheaper” strategy Project for Public Spaces has long advocated for in making places better for people. 

The very important next questions are often, “Who are these places made for? And how are they better?” In true placemaking, the places are for everyone. And better places are welcoming, inclusive, accessible, comfortable, and respectful ones for all who’d like to be there. These places should be flexible, adaptable, and designed for visitors to shape their own experiences. 

True placemaking is also, at its core, about supporting social infrastructure that facilitates connections between people — places where we can talk with each other and enjoy being together, even when we don’t yet know each other. Less isolated folks are healthier, safer, happier, and more successful. And a community of connected people is more inclusive, trusting, empathetic, resilient, and civically involved. 

In many ways, placemaking is a way to work toward a sort of utopia

For more: Read Big Car co-founder and executive director Jim Walker’s article featured on the Project for Public Spaces blog. Big Car is a co-presenter of the upcoming Walk/Bike/Places conference June 15-18, 2021 in Indianapolis, and online. Registration is still open for locals to attend. Don’t miss out!

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