Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

October is National Community Planning Month: APA Great Places designations for 2015

The American Planning Association, the association of planning professionals and stakeholders, designates October as National Community Planning Month.

While we can think of "community planning" as overall planning for a village, town, city, or county, typically "community planning" refers more to planning at the sub-city level, of "districts," "sectors" and neighborhoods.

In 2007, the APA initiated the Great Places in America program as a way to call attention to those elements that characterize "great communities."

Each year communities are designated as great places in three different categories:

-- Master list of honorees, 2007 - 2015

Gastrofest in Hemming Park is a food festival that brings people into this recently renovated public space on Laura Street. Photo Ennis Davis, AICP, City of Jacksonville.

These are the kinds of places that serve as examples of the kinds of places we might like to have in and can work to create in our own communities.  They are also places that we should consider visiting while we travel.

The places selected represent communities of various sizes, which is an important reiteration of something that I've always believed: that you can learn from any community, regardless of its size or the size of your community.

For example, I found when I was involved in the Main Street commercial district revitalization program that people from center cities tended to believe that they didn't have much to learn from smaller cities.  

Since in the "center city" in fact we are working at the sub-city level at the scale of a neighborhood or commercial district, the reality is that a "small town" may be as big or bigger than our center city revitalization effort.

Similarly, even sprawling places like Phoenix have examples of superior urbanism and community planning that we can learn from too, as the designation of the Roosevelt Row Arts District in Phoenix proves (I know, it happens I visited it once during its monthly art walk event...).

Each listing for this year's honorees has a short case study covering those qualities that makes them special:

Great Neighborhoods

Phoenix, Arizona
Miami, Florida
Kansas City, Missouri
Plano, Texas

Great Streets

Los Angeles, California
Jacksonville, Florida
Asheville, North Carolina
Dayton, Ohio
McMinnville, Oregon

Great Places

San Diego, California
Boulder, Colorado
Chicago, Illinois
Flint, Michigan
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Houston, Texas

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