My favorite definition of placemaking comes from Jeremy Zeller with the Oklahoma Main Street program. He says experts tend to name things by putting the words in the wrong order, so placemaking is just making a place.
There’s nothing about making a place that says it has to belong just to experts or officials. It’s not something that only organizations can do. Formality not required.
We all make our places every day, by how we use them. If you go downtown, what you do there helps shape what kind of place it is. Sitting down on a bench and enjoying the sunshine helps make a place. Driving through downtown without stopping makes it a different kind of place.
If you like the idea of a vibrant downtown where you could stroll from shop to shop, talk to friendly neighbors, enjoy public art and see kids playing on the green space, then you can help shape that.
Even if there aren’t many shops open right now.
Even if there’s a pandemic and masks and rules and uncertainty.
Even if the design of the buildings and sidewalks and streets doesn’t feel like the place you wish it was.
Even if there isn’t much art or green space yet.
You can start right now with what you have already. Pull some weeds. Start a rock hunt. Hang out and read a magazine. Bring a friend and chat over snacks from 6 feet apart. Take a sketchbook and draw what you see.
You’re a placemaker. You make this place.
Keep shaping the future of your town,
PS – Deb and I put together a video with some cheap placemaking ideas for you to use in your downtown right now. It’s called Cheap Downtown Placemaking Ideas, and it’s only $5.