As a TURAS partner, I was fortunate in attending two very different events on Placemaking on March 5th 2015. URBACT hosted its Placemaking in four cities in the Eurofound conference centre in Loughlinstown, and Connect the Dots hosted a pot luck dinner in the Food Co-op in Newmarket Dublin 8. While the setting, formality and tone of these events were very different, each had Community, Activation and Placemaking in our cities at heart.
In the first Keynote address Ethan Kent from Project for Public Spaces (www.pps.org) Gave us his insights such as:
- People want to feel they have contributes to their spaces,
- Small interventions are powerful
- The goal is to shift power back to the community.
A lot of placemaking seemed to be around places to sit. These simple interventions change the dynamic of a space. ‘What attracts people is other people’
There were many other speakers from Finland, Spain, Hungry and Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown who presented on their placemaking projects, varying in typology from temporary to engagement in one of the ‘left behind’ communities of their area, Ballybrack. If I have a criticism it is for the presentations to be more of a visual/text mix to retain the engagement of the audience.
Our workshop on Placemaking in cities guide Mikko Kyronviita, Project Planner, City of Pori, Finland. Mikko was involved in the projection of this very fun and interesting way to document a city see the link http://www.tampereotherguide.com/ In the workshop itself, titled, ‘Community-led animation of public spaces’ we discussed, among other things, the value of community empowerment in building community capacity and the burn out of activists who have visions and drive to make spaces better, but don’t get recognized or funded (enough to make a living out of anyway).
Later in the Connect the Dots Pot Luck Dinner in the Dublin Food Co-op in Newmarket Dublin 8 we, saw this similar theme emerge. Among many others, of course. The evening opened with us signing in and being invited to view the 50 + posters of projects concerned with vacant space in Dublin. This is the second event run by Connect the Dots
(http://thedublinproject.com/2015/02/11/connect-the-dots/) and some of the guests knew each other. However we were friendly heckled to “Sit with people you don’t know!!!”
For myself a question emerges, Can we find a way to support and empower these activists and local communities who build social-ecological resilience in our cities? Its well documented that such actions/placemaking enriches our cities. In the countryside we have Leader +. What about our urban areas?
Certainly events such as Connect the Dots and Placemaking in 4 Cities conference is encouraging in its success bringing together people who are active in placemaking. Communication is empowering indeed.