Placemaking

Placemaking is at the core of the CivicMoxie team philosophy.

Placemaking defines a multi-disciplinary approach to planning that promotes high quality of life for all by acknowledging and celebrating the contributions of people and assets to vibrant public spaces and places.  Placemaking serves people and its processes and principles are grounded in stakeholder input and buy-in.

At CivicMoxie,LLC, we embark on projects to:

  • Leverage scarce resources to incentivize private/public investment
  • Affect positive change
  • Accommodate serendipitous events, ideas, and results that reflect the characteristics of stakeholders and unique contexts
  • Create ownership for the plan and process  through the inclusion of many stakeholders and the acknowledgment of many interests
  • Provide a plan that is a living, flexible framework that changes and grows over time, much like our cities and neighborhoods change and grow.

What does placemaking look like in action?  It depends on the project and goals.  The process is inherently comfortable with seemingly chaotic processes and outwardly “messy” results.  Jane Jacobs, one of the great urban thinkers of the past half century outlined the importance of embracing the messiness of cities in her seminal work, “The Death and Life of Great American Cities.”  In this classic of planning literature, Jacobs rejects the need for modern planners and systems to create unnatural order from the seemingly chaotic and complex order of cities and human settlements.  The “death” of cities, economies and neighborhoods results when a “clean up” of streets, blocks and communities transforms vibrant, relevant and safe places into antiseptic environments devoid of the components necessary for innovation and sustainability.

At CivicMoxie, we like what Jane Jacobs had to say about cities and neighborhoods and strive to apply a placemaking philosophy to 21st Century people and places.  It takes extensive professional experience and confidence to be comfortable with processes and outcomes that capitalize on the serendipitous nature of urban communities and human nature to achieve high quality of life for all.  Placemaking is an approach to urban design, real estate planning, strategic planning, community revitalization and economic development that reflects the needs of users, builds buy-in for the planning process, and ensures that there is a broad base of ownership for moving forward with implementation. Nothing ensures the death of a plan more than planning in a vacuum, without building the enthusiasm and legitimacy that comes from heartfelt inclusion of varied stakeholders and interests.

In our work, placemaking infuses our approach and work with clients and communities in tangible ways.  In our real estate planning practice, our philosophy of placemaking means that knowledge of the local cultural, demographic and political context informs project strategy, programing and approach.  Rather than “drop” projects into context, project programs evolve to meet the needs and realities of clients with the broad local context.  Similarly, community revitalization planning is multi-faceted and might include an arts and cultural development component to support local community culture, help rebrand stagnant communities, and attract young people or new residents while celebrating existing stakeholders.  Stakeholder lists are ever changing and growing to bring valuable input to the planning process and grow support for proposed initiatives.

When people become part of the process, not just “recipients” of the plan, they become “owners” of the goals and methods. This is the best assurance that plans don’t stay on the shelf but live long, evolving lives on the road to achieving client and stakeholder goals.