n the past, industrialization led to the design of public space. Making automobiles, not people, the focal point of open space planning. Unfortunately, eliminating the voice of the community and fracturing the bond between public places and the community that inhabits them. This bond is imperative because it knits together individuals, couples, and families into society. The environments that we share and how we choose to use them reflect our mutual values and make social bonds stronger.
Communities across the city have suffered from business closures, high crime, and negative stigmas that have shifted the residents to believe their voices are mute and cannot provoke change. A community is enriched in four respects: community-led design, identity, social capital, productivity. Creative placemaking is a process where community members, artists, culture organizations, and community developers, use art and cultural strategies to implement community-led change. Currently, there is a void between creative placemaking and the purpose of strengthening the community.
Creative placemaking starts with the residents. It places them in the driver’s seat to create the community they deserve, using creativity to fuel place value. Placemaking can advance transportation services, housing, employment, health care, environmental sustainability, and education. It is about leveraging the power of arts and culture to strengthen communities and drive social change. When you have pride in your community, sustainability quickly follows, thus being the driving force of community revitalization.
One of the chief factors in the success of arts and culture communities is their focus to build social interactions. Believe it or not, we have all taken part in a creative placemaking project from community gardening, potluck dinners, taking in the sun at a park, or a pop-up event. What all of these events have in common is a love of place. When people begin to tell the story of their home, they begin to understand their community better and what role they can have in changing their society for the better. Creating place attachment allows people to get involved in their space and build economic development. Placemaking is like homemaking. Just as a homemaker turns a house into a home, a place maker turns a space into a place that gives people a feel of rootedness and connection. Public space has power.
Our creative placemaking efforts have taken place for over ten years. In the State of Louisiana, Mid City is the cultural district that sparks community revitalization based on cultural activity through tax incentives, technical assistance, and resources. Throughout the years, Mid City Redevelopment and Mid City Merchants have worked together to create informed art projects throughout Baton Rouge that attacks the eye soar spaces within neighborhoods to build pride, provoke a conversation across communities, and decrease negative stigmas. Murals such as Louisiana Key Academy and Millennial Park are examples of how we strive to include and connect local artists and businesses to the community they serve; thus, providing a holistic approach to enhancing the quality of life for everyone.
One simple mural can attract new residents and reduce a negative stigma within a community. Several projects can attract the correct industries and investments, road repairs, and neighborhood development that can increase access to healthy food options, better schools, and access to health care, thus increasing the quality of life. The quality of life, as a whole, for Baton Rouge starts in the individual communities. All you need is willpower and a vision.
We are all place makers; it is the creative act in doing.