So what is this term Placemaking?
“Place Making is like home making. Home making turns a house into a home. Place Making turns a space into a place.” David Engwicht
Placemaking is a multi-layered process within which citizens foster active, engaged relationships to the spaces which they inhabit, the landscapes of their lives, and shape those spaces in a way which creates a sense of communal stewardship and lived connection…..
…As the process of developing a community place proceeds; people develop deeper relationships and more energy to create together because they live together. Creating a common ground that transcends the differences among people powerfully addresses this isolation and creates an environment where people feel like they can do anything they set their collect minds to. From CityRepair.Org
Placemaking can also be described as creative and beneficial transformation of the places they live by the residents themselves. In Rochester’s Highland Park Neighborhood in 2009, a group of residents created a grass-roots initiative intent on teaming with City professionals as a way to improve quality of life and traffic calming issues. This group is now known as The Highland Placemaking Team.
Is Placemaking something new?
While the term may be relatively new, many examples of residents working together to design new common living spaces within a community can be found across history. This includes the national movements to create parks and city playgrounds which began in the mid 1800s. Locally, the citizens who created the Rochester Park System can be appreciated as early placemakers. And this article found in a Rochester gardening magazine in 1882, describes something very similar to placemaking within a discussion on small parks. In it, the author points out the connections between public space, beautification by private citizens and quality of life.
What is the Highland Placemaking Team?
In 2009, members of Rochester’s Highland Park Neighborhood Association began several initiatives. After a nearly catastrophic car accident, they first organized themselves as the HPNA Traffic Calming Team. At the same time, some of the same residents were forming an Arts & Cultural Team. As we researched both our history and the best practices on how neighborhood empowered themselves to improve their quality of life issues, we increasing found overlap between our purpose within various projects. That intersection is embodied within the concepts of placemaking. Arts, Culture, Community and Traffic Calming were all part of the 2012 BoulevArt Project, as one example. And the combined efforts to rename and improve Ellwanger & Barry Park, have resulted in the community of our Neighborhood working together to make a better and more special place right at our geographical center. In 2015, the Traffic Calming & Arts & Cultural teams were combined as The Highland Placemaking Team.