Here is our chance to look at some of the things we can do to improve the livability, and the value, of our little community. Some ideas will be presented as a “mental exercise”, some to introduce concepts which have worked in other municipalities and might work here, and other which we (or YOU) are rootin’ for.
A few can be as simple as marking pavement differently, or installing a bench or two, or installing a gate where a fence is now. Others will be more involved, and will require the Village Board, or the Chamber of Commerce, or local residents, to be willing to experiment for the sake of learning (the good news is that we get to keep the successes). By focusing on small projects which can be done quickly and inexpensively, the “Fear of Failure” factor can be greatly reduced.
Much of what can be done can be done by the people who know the area the best: local residents and business & property owners. These smaller steps can be done from the bottom-up, and don’t require a developer with a “Grand Plan” and $50,000,000.
To do this though… we need to understand something about “Placemaking“.
We won’t even think about duplicating here the ever-increasing info about the principles and victories of Placemaking, but we will look at some of the basics to keep in mind as well as point you to additional resources like the great folks at the “Project for Public Spaces“, whose Placemaking graphic is shown above. Some major aspects:
Placemaking capitalizes on a local community’s assets, inspiration, and potential, ultimately creating good public spaces that promote people’s health, happiness, and well being.
It takes root when a community expresses needs and desires about places in their lives, even if there is not yet a clearly defined plan of action. The yearning to unite people around a larger vision for a particular place is often present long before the word “Placemaking” is ever mentioned.
Once the term is introduced, however, it enables people to realize just how inspiring their collective vision can be, and allows them to look with fresh eyes at the potential of parks, downtowns, waterfronts, plazas, neighborhoods, streets, markets, campuses and public buildings.
We strongly recommend looking at the resources and concepts at the PPS site before considering the projects we’ll discuss here. You’ll see why certain ideas or actions are not just desirable but actually “do-able”, with the benefit of this perspective. Don’t forget to also visit our Facebook page and “Like” the various organizations which interest you, to learn from them as well.
We also need to remember that we’re not shooting for “perfect”. That’s very difficult to do with so much already built, and very pricey as well. For our place-making experiements and local improvements, we’re looking for “Good Enough”.