BUILDING ON WHAT WAS ALWAYS THERE: A CASE FOR PLACE-SHAPING

I don’t think this is simply a difference without a distinction:

Leave us substitute “Creative Place-shaping” for “Creative Place-making.”

What has always struck me about the latter is that whatever the place, it has always existed in some form as part of the landscape/streetscape/cityscape – whether as an empty lot (maybe criss-crossed by the desire lines created by those who live around or pass through the area) or understood to be some kind of informal landmark that, without anyone necessarily acknowledging it as a landmark, somehow received that implicit (at least) designation over time.

And that informal history – understanding the place, and understanding the people who’ve made use of – created? -- the place -- needs to uncovered as a critical component of any effort toward extending the value of the place through collaborations of various kinds that, rather than making a place, are “shape-shifting” the place that already exists.

One definition I’ve seen regarding place-making refers to leveraging “the power of the arts, culture and creativity to serve a community’s interest.” My suggested modification would refer to that same power to enhance a community’s interest by building on what’s there already, both physically and culturally – identifying it, acknowledging it, absorbing it into plans, designs – shapes – for the future.

This isn’t a case of splitting hairs. It is a call to acknowledge the history of a place – however small – and those who live, and have lived, around it. And to keep in mind the multiple definitions of place.


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