Placemaking Gets Freaky

I’m a freak magnet.

For reasons unknown, the more, err, colorful characters of the public realm seem to find my personal space especially attractive.

If I go to a midday matinée and another patron — let’s say an agitated mumbler in a trench coat with shoes crudely fashioned out of car wash sponges — joins me in an otherwise empty theater, that person will sit in the seat directly behind mine. Which he’ll then begin kicking.

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Seven Placemaking Wishes for 2013

With the dawning of 2013, the interwebs are awash in lists detailing exactly what to watch out for in the coming year and, in a way, this is one more of those. But not exactly. Though firmly rooted in placemaking trends that have gained notable traction over the past year, this list contains not so much what we’re going to see as it does what we’re hoping to see.

As far as we’re concerned, the communities we love will be better served in 2013 with:

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Great Civic Space: It ain’t the size, it’s what you do with it

While hanging out in the street last Friday, against my Mother’s better childhood advice, I felt an affirmation of my belief in why we, PlaceMakers, do what we do.

A group of us neighborhood advocates, San Diego Urbanist, participated in the annual PARK(ing) Day event by creating a temporary civic space, a Parklet, in a parallel parking spot on a local Main Street. We reframed this worldwide event as a Pilot PARK(let) Project (repeat this three times) because we have two local Business Improvement Districts and a city council member working to allow for more bikeable and walkable facilities. This change from an auto-oriented business improvement model is in direct response to our community morphing into a world-class hipster destination, as we are currently positioned #13 on Forbes’ list of America’s Best Hipster Neighborhoods.

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The Future of Planning: Going meta

“In a world where the peddlers of invention dominate progressive discourse, a willingness to acknowledge–let alone heed–the lessons of history and tradition is a truly radical act.” –Scott Doyon

Check the wiki-hip Urban Dictionary (or watch an episode of Community on NBC) and you’ll find the term meta’s common usage on the street is “to characterize something that is characteristically self-referential.” Consult a more conventional dictionary and you’ll see this derived from its earlier (as well as current) use as a prefix meaning “beyond, about.” That is, taking a subject to a higher level.

As a stand-alone term now, it’s typically applied to works of culture — television, music, film and art. But I suggest we expand that usage because, to me, it’s also the best means of expressing the challenge facing anyone concerned about our urban future.

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