Lessons from the Parks and Creative Placemaking Field Guide
The Trust for Public Land, City Parks Alliance, and National Endowment for the Arts have recently collaborated to release the Field Guide for Parks and Creative Placemaking. Filled with resources and project examples, this is a rich and holistic document for anyone interested in learning more about the practice. Insights range from how to work with artists, which local media platforms to utilize, and who should be involved.
Have a look at some of our key takeaways below, and check out the Field Guide for Parks and Creative Placemaking to learn more!
Partnerships should be should be heterogeneous and inclusive
Leverage the experts of the community, from public authorities to community groups. While organizing a diverse group of people may be challenging, this complexity also strengthens the project and its impact as well. By bringing together established agencies, neighborhood groups, community members and arts organizations, this provides the opportunity to leverage expertise rather than make uninformed assumptions. It’s important to include all groups at every stage of the process, rather than only consulting groups for areas that directly concern them. From inclusivity, comes insight and inspiration that may not have been possible without an outsider’s perspective.
Focus on the Process
Unlike other sectors such as architecture and urban planning, the process of creative placemaking is arguably more important than the final product itself. Creative placemaking is a bottom up approach that is inheritably collaborative, and iterative, leaving plenty of room for revision and reimagining. Placemaking projects leverage the knowledge of the local community to achieve desired goals through arts-based strategies that reposition the community as the expert. The document emphasizes that no matter how tightly planned the project is, travelling down the windy path of iterative placemaking opens up new opportunities for creativity and ways to see the world.
Evaluation is one the most important aspects of placemaking, though often the part least practiced. Arts-based impacts are felt mostly through intuition and tend to be more ephemeral and emotional, though these programs often carry the most meaning alongside them. As creative placemaking gains industry respect, evaluation is critical for the formation of relevant funding opportunities and policy adoptions. The field guide offers both quantitative and qualitative methods for evaluation and emphasizes the translatability of the results to a wider audience.
Image by Kevin Costain via Flickr