We’re Not Alone: Learning from Other Creative Placemaking Leaders
Sometimes innovative and exciting work can be lonely work, which is why we at The Fargo Project were excited to attend The Kresge Foundation’s conference in Philadelphia this fall.
The gathering brought together creative placemaking leaders and project implementers to learn from one another. It also gave us an opportunity to experience how a few neighborhoods in Philly have thrived by integrated arts and culture into daily life.
Nicole Crutchfield, our project lead and a city planner, and Rachel Asleson of Reach Partners, the project’s communications manager, attended.
The Kresge Foundation defines creative placemaking as “the integration of arts, culture and community engaged design into community development and urban planning practices.”
The foundation invests in projects and activities that change the paradigm and expand opportunities for vulnerable populations in America’s cities. The Fargo Project is one of these. To be successful, the work requires a long view, partners and creative solutions to complex problems, according to The Kresge Foundation.
This is why learning from other creative placemaking leaders is so valuable.
We talked about the complexity of creating a 500-year plan that shapes everyday people, connections and activities. We discussed steps needed to build thriving places that create meaningful connections, utility, beauty, health and prosperity.
We also toured examples of thriving and healthy neighborhoods that demonstrate creative placemaking.
First up was The Enterprise Center, housed in the original American Bandstand studio. What had been dilapidated was transformed into a state-of-the art center for programs such as business entrepreneurship, youth education, financial training, micro-loans and urban agriculture. Today, the space builds a stronger community by enhancing relationships, skills and a stronger, healthier neighborhood.
A quick tour of West Philly along Lancaster Avenue brought us to the Neighborhood Time Exchange, Public Workshop and Tiny WPA. These three entities were connected by Alex Gilliam, a building hero and visionary. In this space, Gilliam’s vision plus a few carpentry tools transform the community through design, K-12 education, hands-on experiences and artist involvement.
D’Ashay, a 17-year old Tiny WPA participant summed it up: “It would be great if we could build more useful and creative things around our city to make it a better and happier place.”