COVID-19: The Recovery will Happen in Public Space

Placemaking to Feature Front and Center in NOLA this September

Aug 13, 2018
Aug 16, 2018

There is so much for placemakers to be excited about at Walk/Bike/Places 2018! Not only do we have more placemaking sessions on offer than we’ve ever had at this conference, but there are practically enough placemaking sessions to be a conference on its own!

Have a look at some of the content that’s in store at the biggest placemaking event of the year, and get ready to join us in New Orleans this September 16-19, for what is sure to be one of our best conferences yet.

First and foremost, the reason we are in New Orleans is to learn from New Orleans. And there is much to learn from presenters like Darcie Crew of Jackson County (MS), as well as Geneva Dummer, Connie Moran City of Ocean Springs, and Tracy Wyman of Gulf Coast Community Design Studio in their session, Post-disaster Placemaking through Strategic Partnerships: Lessons from the Mississippi Coast. Following Hurricane Katrina's devastation along the Gulf Coast in 2005, Mississippi's waterfront communities were tasked with rebuilding in a resilient, sustainable, and equitable manner to ensure that future natural disasters would be less disruptive. Mississippi Coast communities have incorporated sustainability and encouragement of active transportation modes into the planning and rebuilding process by crafting strategic partnerships among residents, political leaders, community organizations, and businesses. This panel highlights both the successes they’ve accomplished as a region, and the ongoing challenges they’ve faced in realizing their collective goals.

One of the biggest placemaking sessions at Walk/Bike/Places will be the Creating Place Super Session—a whopping 3-hour, PPS-led session facilitated by Nate Storring that covers the various dimensions of place, the tools and techniques for placemaking, and the possibilities for incorporating a place-based approach in governance, transportation, and health. We will hear from a variety of experts in this session, including Ebrahim Varachia, Co-founder and President of Patronicity, about how we can create the community we desire “from the ground up,” through hyper-local crowdfunding campaigns paired with matching grant funding. We will also hear from Alyssa Garcia, Urban Designer at SITELAB urban studio, about Pop-Up Care Village; a twist on food truck festivals that consists of a recurring event where service stations for unhoused individuals take over a public space for a day. We will also hear from Peter Thompson about Ready Go, an online resource that connects neighborhoods, cities, businesses, and organizations to artist-created, mobile tools that are built to pique curiosity. Some of the tools in Ready Go include plans for a teardrop trailer containing a pop-up park and a bike-towed mobile drawing station, as well as a screenprinting cart modeled on a paleta/popsicle cart!

Carrying out the legacy from our last Walk/Bike/Places conference, we will hear from John Grottenberg and Paul Krueger of the City of Vancouver in their session, Pavement to Plazas: The Vancouver Experience. This session will provide an overview of Vancouver’s emerging pavement to plazas program, with a focus on three recent case studies where streets in established neighborhoods were transformed into vibrant public plazas. Over the past several years, Vancouver has emerged as a North American leader in placemaking and sustainable transportation—this session will highlight key steps to delivering a successful plaza from start to finish, including low-cost pilot and interim approaches, as well as permanent designs.

Want to learn more about how placemaking takes shape at the seaside? Come join PPS’s Philip Winn and Kelly Verel at their session, Placemaking in Salisbury, MA: How a Community Came Together at the Beach.

Here they will take you through the steps of re-imagining the oceanfront beach district of Salisbury, MA, as they worked with a group of key stakeholders to collaboratively create a Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper plan for improvements and activation in the summer of 2017. Their plan included bold and creative moves, like repurposing an existing travel lane as additional public space, creating a movable parklet, and using street painting and public art to test the area as a potential shared space for vehicles and pedestrians. The result? A fun and colorful beachscape that continues to be a success for the community, and which is slated for further activation this year!

Curious to learn more about how to build trust amongst different target groups to create truly inclusive places and programming? Join Aurora Anaya-Cerda of Levitt Pavilion Los Angeles, Shane Morrow and Michelle Truett of Utica Monday Nite, and Sharon Yazowski of Mortimer & Mimi Levitt Foundation in a session called Diversifying the Approach. In this session, you’ll discover best practices and frameworks to put equity, diversity, and inclusion at the forefront of your work, informing all aspects of your placemaking goals, process, activities, and outcomes. Among the questions to be explored: How do you define diversity, and how is the term interpreted across different communities? How can your placemaking initiatives reflect the diversity of your population? How can you apply engagement frameworks to communities of different sizes? How do you ensure that your audiences are engaged throughout the process so that they feel welcomed and motivated to participate? The panel—a national funder, a competitive placemaking grants program for small- to mid-sized towns and cities, and a community engagement professional with a creative placemaking program in Los Angeles—will reflect on the challenges, successes, and lessons learned in implementing community engagement efforts to truly serve a whole community.

Discovery Green in Houston, TX

Arriving in NOLA on or by Sunday? You’re in luck. PPS’s Nidhi Gulati and other staff will facilitate Sunday afternoon’s Bonus Super Session, Placemaking Crash Course—Beyond Adirondack Chairs and Umbrellas.This session is intended to give a background on planning the PPS way and how it is so much more than the Adirondack chairs and umbrellas that adorn many public spaces. The session will begin with an introduction to PPS’s signature placemaking process, followed by unique example projects that demonstrate each step of the process in action, along with the outcomes. The participants will get an opportunity to practice the technique on a ‘crash course’ basis in small teams. Come and join us for this free training!

More often than not, it’s going to take more than a little yarn-bombing and a few lawn chairs to create successful places in your downtown. Eric Brown and Colette Ramirez of the City of Eugene, and Julie Smith of the Eugene Police Department will discuss how Eugene, Oregon, like many other places across the country, is facing social issues that include homelessness, transience, mental health, and runaway youth—challenges that are emerging as defining features of this decade’s social landscape. Come and learn about how the City and other stakeholders came together in a unique and successful model for cross-departmental collaboration by using an interdisciplinary approach, and a strategic blend of initiatives to address a spectrum of challenges—gradual, but positive progress has been made, and they will be sharing what has pushed this progress in this session, Places in Crisis: A Case Study of Placemaking and “Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper” Approaches amid the Social Challenges of the 21st Century.

Last but not least, we will highlight one of the many placemaking-related mobile workshops available, where participants can visit projects throughout the city, by foot or by bike, to learn about great local projects on site. We’re particularly excited about the Public Art, Placemaking, and Controversy Bike Tour put on by the Arts Council of New Orleans. In this workshop, participants will pass through iconic New Orleans neighborhoods to visit a variety of public art installations and programmatic sites along major corridors and public spaces, including privately maintained artwork. The tour will cover the social relevance of past and present public art and public spaces, as well as how the City is dealing with objectionable public art and evolving cultural values in the community. This workshop is just one of many amazing mobile workshops put on by locals at Walk/Bike/Places. Check out the full list of fantastic mobile workshops featuring the work of local projects, as well as other sessions taking place each day, here!

As you can see, placemaking is front and center at Walk/Bike/Places this year, so don’t miss out on all of these informative sessions (and more), all of which will focus on how to create quality public spaces that contribute to the health, happiness, and well-being of communities.

Thinking about joining us this year? Be sure to do so soon—the event is only six weeks away! There’s still time to register for the standard rate by Friday, August 17th @ 8pm EST. We hope to see you in the Big Easy this September!

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COVID-19: The Recovery will Happen in Public Space