Our Top 5 Articles of 2022

Priscilla Posada
Dec 28, 2022
Jan 3, 2023

When Project for Public Spaces was founded back in 1975, it was at a time of big questions about the future of American downtowns. 

White flight to the suburbs, racist disinvestment in the “inner city,” and misguided urban renewal projects had hollowed out the heart of many communities, and raised doubts about the traditional model of cities. Over the next 45 years, we saw many downtowns shake off those doubts, creating vibrant public spaces that renewed faith in the value of downtown as a center of social and economic life. 

But 2022 marked the return of those big questions about downtown. As the coronavirus pandemic has become endemic, the remote work trends that kicked off in 2020 have become clearer, with some cities adapting better than others. The flip side of this trend, as many of our most popular articles this year demonstrate, is the stickiness of the idea of the “15-minute city”—where every neighborhood has a miniature downtown of its own. As work and life become more intermingled, people are demanding communities where they can easily and equitably access food, goods, and services, as well as vibrant public spaces.

Our top five articles also reflect some of Project for Public Spaces’ key achievements this year. For our team, 2022 was all about expanding our mission of bringing people-powered transformation to the communities that need it the most. In this spirit, our Placemaking Program has continued making headway with its flagship initiative, Community Placemaking Grants. We’re currently working with four public space stewards and facilitating the resources—funding, capacity building, and design expertise—to help them improve a public space in their community. We also hosted a sold-out Placemaking: Making it Happen online training with guest speakers including Concordia’s Melissa Lee and Better Block’s Krista Nightengale among other placemaking experts and were joined by more than 150 participants representing 16 countries.

Our Market Cities Program celebrated the end of its first anniversary year. In 2022 alone, we published over 10 new articles including a special series exploring each of the seven principles for becoming a Market City using case studies from around the world. We also held the first ever online edition of our How to Create Successful Markets training, which gathered 130 participants from 20 countries. In the coming months, we will open registration for our 11th International Public Markets Conference taking place in Toronto on June 8-10, 2023. While cities around the world face so much uncertainty as they roll into the coming year, working with so many local placemakers, market operators, and public space advocates has given us tremendous hope for our collective potential to tackle the challenges ahead. 

Without further ado, here are our top articles of the year:

5. Public Markets: The Seeds of a New Economy

By Nate Storring • June 12, 2022

In March 2022, public market and placemaking consultant Robert LaValva made the case for public markets as a potential antidote to our consolidated food systems at Yale Law School’s Reforming America’s Food Retail Markets conference. 

Co-Executive Director at Project for Public Spaces, Nate Storring, brings us the key takeaways from this talk and explores how public markets can foster fairer economies. After all, what we eat and drink affects our everyday lives, and when these basic needs are subjected to corporate consolidation, it’s important to analyze what we lose if we don’t come up with more sustainable alternatives. Read more.

4. Toronto Selected to Host the 11th International Public Markets Conference in 2023

By Priscilla Posada • January 24, 2022

Our 11th International Public Markets Conference next summer in Toronto will convene market operators, developers, policymakers, and advocates from around the world to explore the city's vibrant markets, learn best practices, and connect in person with others in the field. 

This year, we took a moment to highlight why we’re excited about hosting this event in Toronto —a model market city in the making. We also share a sneak peek of the conference program. Read more.

3. Thinking Beyond the Parks Department: A Q&A with Javier Otero Peña

By Priscilla Posada • January 14, 2022

Our Communications and Marketing Manager Priscilla Posada sat down with social scientist Javier Otero Peña, a Ph.D. candidate in Environmental Psychology at the CUNY Graduate Center, to discuss his research on park usage in low-income neighborhoods in New York City. In this interview, Javier explains how social access is sometimes more important than physical access, and makes the case for taking a holistic approach to this complex problem. Read more.

2. A (Market) Place for Everyone

By Priscilla Posada • February 11, 2022

We all know that markets are good places to find fresh food and all types of goods. But what makes a market the kind of warm, welcoming place you want to spend time in? As part of our series on the seven principles for becoming a Market City, we explored “place” and how looking at public markets as gathering spaces that celebrate cultural heritage can help unlock their full potential. Read more.

1. New York’s Most Exciting New Public Space is a Street in Queens

By John Surico • August 5, 2022

Thinking of streets as places opens up more possibilities. Beyond accommodating cars, or even outdoor dining, they can be places to meet your neighbors, catch up with friends, exercise, and much more. As an international nonprofit based in New York City, we were thrilled to shine a spotlight on Jackson Heights, Queens: a community that fought for and made their pop-up open street on 34th Avenue permanent during the pandemic. 

Journalist John Surico shares the story on how a street in one of America's most diverse neighborhoods blossomed into a linear park. If you’ve been following the success of Barcelona’s “superblocks,” this is an article that shows how the concept can be applied right here in the US. Read more.

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