Miriam Chion, David John Attyah, Roberto Bedoya, Victor Pineda

Design for All: Creative Placemaking and Inclusive Space

By: Rhonda Itaoui

‘Design for All: Creative Placemaking and Inclusive Space’ provided a unique opportunity to critique the socio-spatial aspects of belonging, and explore methods for cultivating spaces of enhanced inclusivity in everyday urban places. The workshop encouraged the interactive participation of workshop attendees, who were asked to label one of four portraits of urban spaces around the room with various statements from a sticker sheet such as “monumental,” “active,” “vibrant,” etc. Once participants had completed the labelling of their selected portrait, they took seats in proximity to their selected urban space portrait and engage in the presentations of four panelists. Miriam Chion opened the session with an informative overview of ‘Urban Vitality’ as a necessary solution to urbanization by creating more inclusive spaces that consider the people, activities, and networks within the community.

 Robert Bedoya encouraged a deeper critique of the politicized nature of belonging and unbelonging in these places to enable creative placemaking. In drawing on the human capacity as “place-makers.” Bedoya framed our neighborhoods as sites for the collective, rather than the privatized ‘we’—which he said is essential to advancing belonging in an equitable world.

 In addition to considering the politicized nature of belonging, Victor Piñeda highlighted the way that inclusive spaces must reflect a balance of the city’s historical memories while at the same time respond to ongoing cultural shifts to ensure the continuity, vibrancy, and relevance of a place for its community.

 Public art was cited as a strategy for creative placemaking among attendees, and critiqued by David Attah who advocated for ‘socially engaged’ public art that should not only reflect and engage with local civic processes, but also encourage the participation of the local community and its various stakeholders. In advocating for art that treats its audience as “subjective,” he asserted the need for a more inclusive public art-making process that is ethical, self-critical, and most importantly, participatory for its local community.

 Following these panelist presentations, each table group was provided with one of the following four “creative placemaking solutions”: engaging people with food, cultural remembrance, farmer’s markets, and muraling. Each group applied their chosen solution to the pictured urban space, and brainstorm ways to incorporate that element in the urban space in an inclusive and engaging way. The presentation of group brainstorms sparked discussions around power and privilege in decision-making, the incorporation of socially engaged public art, shifting land-use practices, community-building activities, and native recognition in creative placemaking.

 In addition, feedback on proposed creative placemaking solutions like street art and farmers markets encouraged critique of community participation, agency, and empowerment in the placemaking process. Overall, the session highlighted the dialectic relationship between place and belonging. Indeed, creating inclusive places requires the building of a narrative that brings people together, accounts for the broader community’s past, current and future needs while encouraging community participation in all stages of the creative place-making process.

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photo by Eric Arnold, see more photos on our Facebook page.