Whether we admit to it or not, there is a reason why we like or dislike the places we have been and where we live. Sometimes it is a very superficial reason as to why we like a place. Other times we have to look deeply into why we like or dislike a certain district, town, or park. Often, first impressions make the biggest impact on us. Most of us aren’t urban planners, architects, or community designers by trade, but we still have an internal instinct that makes us form a feeling instantly.
It seems somewhere along the way we have forgotten how to make the places around us meaningful. We have sacrificed character and charm for easier and cheaper methods. We have removed or are planning to remove historical buildings to make way for less important uses. Streets have taken precedent over sidewalks or bike lanes. One day it just swept into towns across America and elsewhere to abandon what made their towns successful in the first place. The desire for malls, then big box stores, strip malls, buildings that all look a like, and homes that only come in four models seemed to be the best possible solution.
It seems there is a new revolution known placemaking hitting most major progressive cities and states that have tried everything else to revitalize themselves. It’s a very simple concept capitalizing on a local community’s assets, inspiration, and potential, ultimately creating good public spaces that promote people’s health, happiness, and well-being. The term and the idea aren’t new, but hopefully as we are currently being forced to look deeper into many issues we revisit it and welcome it with open arms.
So the next time we find a place we don’t like, let’s ask, why not? Look deeper, and maybe we’ll find that there are ways to improve and even help out in the process.