Placemaking in Practice

Ten years ago, who would have thought a bare, mowed stormwater basin in Fargo, ND could be a transformed into gathering space, community gardens, ecologically restored and nationally recognized?

Transform a stormwater basin Learn new low-impact stormwater practices Integrate artists and community into the public process Connect programming activities to public spaces

Creative placemaking, is a relatively new approach which crosses art and culture with design in infrastructure and development projects. The results of the creative placemaking approach is emerging through the construction at World Garden Commons at Rabanus Park, Fargo ND.

Echoing the experiences of those working on The Fargo Project, Leslie Braunstein summarizes the 10 best practices for Creative Placemaking written by Juanita Hardy, Urban Land Institute’s senior visiting fellow whose work supports Building Healthy Places Initiative, a two-year creative placemaking project funded by the Kresge Foundation.

  1. Begin with the end in mind. Envision what you would like to see, but also what you do not want to see, such as displacement of existing residents.
  2. Bring in artists and the community early. Timing is everything. Art and culture need to be central to the project’s design.
  3. “Mine” local art and cultural assets. Creative placemaking works best when used to amplify local community assets.
  4. Engage local artists. Find and recruit artists in the local community, including visual artists, performing artists, poets, writers, musicians, designers, chefs, and other creative types.
  5. Understand and articulate stakeholder benefits. Explore how art and culture can contribute to both the social and economic vitality of a project.
  6. Form cross-sector partnerships, including artists, community members, and public and private sector organizations.
  7. Identify the critical skills needed to deliver on project goals and outcomes. Collaboration is critical to the success of a project.
  8. Look for early wins to generate excitement, visibility, and buy-in. For example, use pop-ups and community gatherings to gain engagement while awaiting entitlements.
  9. Maintain a long view. Don’t stop when the goals of the built environment are met. Consider programming that keeps the community engaged and the place alive and exciting.
  10. Pursue creative financing. Money can come from unforeseen, unexpected places—even, for example, a casino.


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