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T4America launches a new online guide to creative placemaking in transportation

Today T4America is proud to launch a brand new online interactive guide, The Scenic Route: Getting Started with Creative Placemaking in Transportation. Creative placemaking is an emerging approach to planning and building transportation projects that taps local culture and to produce better projects through a better process.

Creative Placemaking Screenshot

https://t4america.org/creativeplacemaking

After checking out the new guide, be sure to share the news on Twitter and Facebook.

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So what is creative placemaking?

Creative placemaking is a better process for planning and building transportation projects. It’s an approach that deeply engages the arts, culture, and creativity — especially from underrepresented communities — in planning and designing transportation projects so that the resulting communities better reflect and celebrate local culture, heritage and values.

Think of it this way: When anyone begins the process of a transportation project of any size, the first question usually (hopefully!) asked is, “What are we doing and why?”

In a creative placemaking approach, the next question to ask is, “How can the distinctiveness of this place and the people in it contribute to the success of what we’re doing? How can the arts and culture of this place be a part of the process and the final product?”

We wrote this guide to introduce the concept to transportation planners, public works agencies and local elected officials who are on the front lines of advancing transportation projects.

Why we need a better approach to transportation projects

More than ever, transportation agencies need a greater level of support in local communities to make projects happen. Meaningfully engaging the public so they have a say over the project may be a little daunting for public agencies, but it ultimately makes the project more successful — whether a project as basic as the redesign of an intersection or as complex as the construction of a new light rail line.

Building more support by better engaging the public can help avoid 11th hour controversies and build the type of public trust that is more important than ever for advancing ambitious infrastructure plans or winning new revenue for transportation at your city council, the ballot box or in your state legislature.

Creative placemaking harnesses the power of arts and culture to allow for more genuine public engagement — particularly in low-income neighborhoods, communities of color and among immigrant populations — in the development of transportation projects. Forget the traditional, staid public meeting format and instead imagine artists engaging community members using multiple languages to generate meaningful dialogues, capturing their creativity and local knowledge to better inform the ultimate design of the project.

Done right, creative placemaking can lead to both a better process and a better product, in this case integrating community-inspired art into the ultimate design of the project as so many of the case studies in this guide demonstrate.

The end results are streets, sidewalks and public spaces that welcome us, inspire us and move us in every sense of that word. It doesn’t take much to get started, but it does require a new approach to public engagement along with intentional partnerships with artists, arts councils and community-based organizations.

We hope this guide serves as your starting point to a journey that can truly transform your city. Browse the guide, share it with others, and let us know what you think.

Our deepest thanks to the Kresge Foundation for their support in producing this resource.

View the Guide