COVID-19: The Recovery will Happen in Public Space

Great Public Spaces: Equity in Action

Nov 20, 2019
Dec 26, 2019

Whether you work at a nonprofit or a corporation, you have probably noticed that “equity” is a big time buzzword these days. That’s not to say that prioritizing the needs of people who have been systemically discriminated against or ensuring that costs, benefits, and opportunities are fairly distributed isn’t a worthy cause, but as with many buzzwords, when it comes to equity, there is often more talk than there is action. That’s one reason why we recently compiled a Playbook for Inclusive Placemaking—to dive into the crucial messiness of practice that lies beyond pronouncements about the importance of inclusive and equitable urbanism.

These five new entries in our Great Public Spaces database show the wide range of ways that placemakers can put inclusion into action on the ground. Inclusion can equally mean ensuring that a big downtown public space welcomes the full range of a city’s residents or a neighborhood effort to claim a park or empty lot for one specific community. It can mean a major public investment in a long overlooked neighborhood or a lighter, quicker, cheaper project to ensure that people of all ages have a safe place to walk, bike, or roll. (Not to mention, people of all socio-cultural and economic backgrounds, gender identities and abilities.)

While equity is complex and requires an ongoing, open, honest, and courageous conversation, these projects are a good reminder that this complexity shouldn’t stop us from finding ways big and small to transform good intentions into real-life interventions.

1. La Mariposa, Usaquén, Bogota, Colombia

The neighborhood-wide butterfly mural is more than just a beautification project for the informal settlement of Usaquén. This massive collective undertaking served as a platform for community consultation and participation, as well as investment in new parks and other public amenities. Read more.

2. Sara J. González Memorial Park, Atlanta, GA, USA

Sara J. González Memorial Park is the first park to be named for a Latina in Georgia, located in a rapidly gentrifying Hispanic neighborhood. With a Latin Ethnobotanical garden, a reading nook inspired by a dedicated ESOL teacher, an all-abilities playground, and many other amenities, it has a Power of 10+ worth of inclusive uses and activities. Read more.

3. River Garden, Memphis, TN, USA

This park on the Mississippi River has become a hub for the whole Memphis region, attracting visitors from many racial and economic backgrounds and more than 40 ZIP codes. The secret lies in the park’s wide range of programming and activities, its connectivity, and its welcoming atmosphere. Read more.

4. Moose Tracks to Montrose, Bexley, Ohio, USA

Moose Tracks to Montrose is a quirky street mural that provides crosswalks and additional space for pedestrians, cyclists, and wheelchair users in an alleyway that connects the city’s main commercial district to an elementary school, library, and other nearby businesses. Read more.

5. Artbox Lot, Hartford, CT, USA

Taking advantage of the City of Hartford’s “Love Your Block” grant program, Artbox Lot transformed a private lot in a Latino neighborhood into a safe and welcoming community gathering place. Read more.

Submit Your Own Great Public Space

Anyone can submit their own favorite street to our Great Public Spaces database, and we want to hear about yours! Simply visit the database homepage and click the “Nominate a Great Place” button.

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COVID-19: The Recovery will Happen in Public Space