February 5, 2014

What is placemaking anyway?

Gather Round Roundabout

Gather Round Roundabout at St George St at East 10th Ave. Image from Google Streetview.

A few years ago I wrote about a Mark Lakeman event, which I did not attend, so my interest was piqued when a friend of mine mentioned an upcoming event with Lakeman’s name on it.

“Cracks in the pavement: Placemaking and the remaking of the modern city with Mark Lakeman” (tickets still available at Eventbrite) will be Lakeman’s public talk this Friday evening “on Placemaking and Redesigning The Commons” ahead of a 9-month course on the subject.

Placemaking, the creative reclamation of public space was the brainchild of Mark, an urban designer, and his neighbours in 1996 when they transformed their own intersection into a place for community gatherings and interaction — starting a mini revolution in Portland, OR that has spread throughout the city and inspired the creation of City Repair, an organization that engages citzens in transforming places. (Read more.)

Sweet. If you’ve ever meandered around the roundabout at the intersection of 10th Ave at St George St in Vancouver — probably on a bike — you’ve passed by one of our own examples, the Gather Round Roundabout. It’s fairly non-descript by itself, but it comes alive when the community gathers on and around it.

I’m looking forward to learning more about creatively reimagining public spaces and I’m sure we’ll all be eyeing up opportunities on our next bike ride or walk through the city. (A good reason to slow down!)