Creative Placemaking

Creative Placemaking is an evolving field of practice that intentionally leverages the power of the arts, culture and creativity to serve a community’s interest while driving a broader agenda for change, growth and transformation in a way that also builds character and quality of place.” ~ Artscape

Examples: Murals in Mexico   |   16th Ave Tiled Steps in San Francisco   |   Portland Painting

“The big picture has always been, and continues to be, that we set in motion such a powerfully catalytic community-building mechanism that it rebirths the modern village where we are no longer isolated. As individuals, as neighborhoods, as a culture, and as global citizens, every possible problem that we face can be solved at the local level if we are connected with each other.” ~ Ridhi D’Cruz

Creative Placemaking can be described as the intentional cultivation and/or celebration of a community’s collective creative spirit.

It’s the outward manifestation of the soul of a place. Usually it’s colorful, inclusive, vibrant and enchanting.

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The “weird” in movements like “Keep Portland Weird” and “Keep Austin Weird” reflect the efforts to sustain creative placemaking that happened organically.

Ironically, because the creative elements that make a place special rarely prioritize turning a  profit,  it’s often those same elements that suffer when an area becomes more valued as a result of creative placemaking.

I coined the phrase “strategic weirding” to refer to creative placemaking with an eye towards sustaining the spirit of a place and its people as that place becomes more “economically viable.”

The communities that make a place vibrant should get to continue to enjoy the fruits of their labors, too.

It doesn’t have to be a binary, either/or situation, because diverse systems are more resilient (and interesting!)

Amusingly I’ve been talking about creative placemaking for a decade or so and only learned there was a term for it in April of 2014, right before everything went wonky.

Me personally? I think there was a reason for that, because my goals have expanded since then.