Placemaking is the process of creating quality places that people want to live, work, play, and learn in.
So then, what is a Quality Place? This concept could be a tad different from person to person, but would be generalized as a building, location, or space which possesses a strong sense of place. A location where people, businesses and institutions want to be, they are alluring and have “pizazz”.
These sorts of places have been around for centuries, responding to the human need to gather in a location which makes you smile. Gardens are a great example of placemaking, large green areas within cities and towns where families, events, organizations gather throughout the year.
But placemaking does not need to be so extravagant, costly or time consuming. There are oodles of images from around the world of alleys or other small spaces, which have been covered with umbrellas, making an area which was once dark and dreary to fun and festive. Other examples might be a mural or interactive art installation. Shutting down roads and making them pedestrian only, is another way to engage placemaking; encouraging folks to gather and linger. Placemaking does not need to be expensive, and can re-energize locations around communities, as well as portions of buildings. The key is to think outside the box and do what feels good for all ages to enjoy, with concepts which are visually stunning or offer creative interaction.
Parklet’s are another great example. Extending a business out into a parking area, either for food consumption, or to play games like chess, or even just to sit amongst flowers to read. Recently our local business Flat Bed Ford, has decided to be a prototype of what this concept can look like in downtown historic Winslow. It’s only been a week, and though there is some controversy, for the most part, folks are loving the idea, and Sonia, the owner, has already seen an increase in business. This is the whole idea. We know we have close to a million visitors a year in our historic downtown, but their length of stay is just over an hour. Not nearly enough time to really get to know our community, not to mention the tax dollars we are missing out on, to other stops which are more engaging, along their trip.
We are thrilled to have local businesses ask for placemaking and hope to continue engaging our small business community with other ideas to offer safe, connected, walkable, and sociable areas which are conducive to creativity, arts and culture. More recreational opportunities, more green space, more quiet space, more quality places for our residents and visitors to enjoy year-round.