What’s it called when local leaders turn an abandoned lot into a community garden, or furnish a desolate plaza with chairs and tables, or make a bus shelter into an art display?
It’s called placemaking!, and it’s a multi-faceted approach to planning, design, and management that capitalizes on a community’s existing assets to create shared public places that promote health, happiness, and a sense of togetherness. To date, ioby has supported over 750 projects nationwide that help make neighborhoods safer, greener, more livable and more fun. At least 300 of them have had a stated focus on placemaking, and many more, like community gardens and mural projects, have had a placemaking component.
[Putnam Triangle in Brooklyn’s Clinton Hill neighborhood was one of the three public plazas ioby supported during last year’s WePlaza campaign]
ioby approaches placemaking as a facilitator – we don’t come up with the ideas or decide who should be involved. We think neighbors know best what their neighborhoods need. It’s our job to coach new grassroots leaders in community organizing and fundraising best practices so they can successfully make positive change happen where they live.
The three WePlaza projects we supported last year with the Neighborhood Plaza Partnership in New York City are great examples. These initiatives are introducing arts programming to a new public space under the elevated 7 train, bringing free public wi-fi to a popular plaza in Queens, and outfitting a Brooklyn “pocket park” with a sunshade that doubles as a light fixture at night. As these public places become more hospitable, it’s easy to imagine the increase in socializing, residents taking more pride in what their neighborhood has to offer, and nearby local businesses reaping the benefits of the extra foot traffic. A win for all!
[At work creating Memphis’ I LOVE Soulsville Rock/Art Garden]
Another great one is the I LOVE Soulsville Rock/Art Garden being created in Memphis. To beautify the small vacant lot perpendicular to the city’s freshly-painted “I Love Soulsville” mural, project participants are clearing the lot of rocks and debris, planting perennials and low maintenance flowers and shrubbery, creating walking paths, and installing seating. Can’t you just see it now? A lovely new public green space where people can sit, talk, and relax that will draw residents and visitors to the area and spike enthusiasm for—and use of—the neighborhood and all its amenities.
[Rendering of Memphis’ Hampline, a neighborhood connectors for pedestrians and cyclists]
In addition to these popular, light-and-quick-style placemaking efforts, ioby is also able to support larger-scale infrastructure projects, like Memphis’s Hampline, a two-mile, art-and-plant-lined neighborhood connector that offers bikers and pedestrians safe access to amenities in the neighborhood, including five schools, a park, a community center, a library, medical facilities, and the city’s arts district. PeopleForBikes called the Hampline “the most interesting bike project in the country”!
While ioby’s known for our online crowdfunding platform, we’re even more interested in what happens after the funds have been raised. We think working together on gathering resources helps communities feel ownership over a project, not to mention a sense of pride. ioby leaders volunteer their own time and their own ideas to bring creative placemaking to their neighborhoods, which in turn imbues each project with a sense of purpose, belonging, and proprietorship that it’s hard to achieve through other funding means. These feelings translate into sustained neighborhood stewardship, which, in time, makes for more enjoyable, inclusive, and livable communities for all.
What does your neighborhood need to become safer, greener, more livable, or more fun?
Tell us your idea and we can get you started today!