School may be out for summer, but Project for Public Spaces is already gearing up for what’s to come this fall in Chattanooga, Tennessee!
On October 1-4, 2019, our 3rd International Placemaking Week conference will offer invaluable opportunities for placemakers to collaborate and reconnect, while exploring the unique charm of Chattanooga—a mid-size U.S. city that has been recognized worldwide for its public space networks and innovative approaches to community and urban development.
From start-ups and creative hubs to co-living spaces and a pioneering city-wide gigabit network, Chattanooga has been at the forefront of the innovation scene for years. In 2017, Fortune Magazine named it “one of America’s most startup friendly cities.” But Chattanooga, as with so many U.S. rustbelt cities, has also navigated its fair share of challenges. While issues of racial equity, economic disparity, and spatial segregation have a unique history in the United States, they take on many shapes and contours in cities across the world. More than ever, these issues need to be at the center of every discussion around placemaking and urban growth. This is what Placemaking Week is all about—creating spaces in which leaders, practitioners, advocates, policymakers, and community members can come together to explore solutions and discover areas in which they can more consciously bring the margins to the center in their work, their community practice, and their everyday lives.
After receiving more than 250 submissions during our Call for Proposals, we couldn’t be more excited about the themes that have emerged to help shape this year’s dynamic Placemaking Week program. To ground our discussions around equity, inclusion, and urban innovation, Project for Public Spaces, in collaboration with the event’s Local Host Committee, is lining up an impressive roster of speakers and sessions around themes such as children and play, crowdfunding, DIY urbanism, and grassroots placemaking.
Play, children, and youth-focused placemaking efforts comprised some of the most popular and well-attended workshops and sessions during Placemaking Week 2017 in Amsterdam. As critical focus on these issues continues to gain momentum, play promises to be one of the most inspiring themes coming out of Chattanooga this year!
As Project for Public Spaces explored in depth in our 2017 report, The Case for Healthy Places, play is an essential factor in maintaining children’s health and well-being. But the availability of opportunities for safe play and regular physical activity remains uneven across lines of social, racial, and economic difference. Indeed, much research has shown that low-income groups and racial and ethnic minorities have more limited access to well-maintained parks and safe recreational facilities, and that low-income urban neighborhoods are more likely to lack features that support walking, such as clean and well-maintained sidewalks, trees, and attractive scenery.
To highlight how these issues are being successfully tackled through creative programs and community-focused partnerships, the 3rd International Placemaking Week will feature a number of interactive sessions around this topic. During the "Public-Private Partnerships for PLAYces (P4s),” session, for example, speakers from the nonprofit KaBOOM and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation will share lessons from their innovative partnership taking on public space projects and expanding youth opportunities in the Cody Rouge neighborhood of Detroit, MI. Another session, “Playable Cities: Why it matters in today’s society,” featuring Florida-based design firm and guerrilla play platform, The Urban Conga, will show us why it is important for play to be not only in our communities but our everyday lives, and help us brainstorm inventive and collaborative new ways for people to break down barriers and engage with one another in ways that keep us physically active.
In a session titled “This Isn't Child's Play!: What Happens When You Ask Children to Design Their Playground?” members from Canadian placemaking organization, Evergreen, will share their experience of co-creating a whole-school approach to place-based school ground design—an approach that is rooted in child-friendly practices and community-connected experiential learning. After working closely with a team of 10 children, ages 9-12, who led a visioning and design process that culminated in a landscape master plan for their school grounds, this past year Evergreen partnered with the Toronto District School Board—Canada’s largest—to translate this project into a transferable program model that can be shared with schools and design practitioners worldwide. During their Placemaking Week workshop in Chattanooga, members of this organization will share details of this experience and lessons learned through an experiential, arts-based workshop.
This is only the beginning! Along with a focus on play and recreation, other themes and session details we can’t wait to share with you include crowdfunding and creative partnerships, as well as placemaking in the American South. As we continue to finalize this year’s incredible program of speakers, events, and mobile workshops—we want to keep you in the loop! Throughout the summer and leading up to the big week in October, we will share a series of posts highlighting new additions to the lineup, speaker highlights, and important details about conference sessions. You can also sign up here for the Placemaking Week newsletter in order to stay informed on conference details, registration, and everything Placemaking Week 2019.
It’s time to get excited! The countdown has begun for the 3rd International Placemaking Week in October, and registration is already open, so be sure to register by July 12th to receive the Early Bird rate.