Our attachment to a place is bound up in memories, identity and commitment. When creating urban spaces intended to encourage unity and interaction, it helps to remember the important factor of emotional attachment.
Communities are strengthened when there are places for people to gather on a regular basis, where there is comfortable interaction amidst diversity. These experiences ultimately contribute to a more peaceful and prosperous society. Creating places which serve this function are more successful when meaningful dialogue and collaboration from within the community lead the way.
When places grown organically from the priorities of citizens, they reflect an inherent identity and culture. People tend to spend leisure time in places which reflect their own identity, or the identity they cultivate. But cultural identity is a subjective and nuanced thing, which cannot be created artificially. Any new “place” might invite short-term popular attention but long-term success comes from touching upon something deeper, an emotional connection. That means if a place is to be embraced by the community and serve a unifying function, it must first arise from a comfortable exchange of ideas and insights among the people themselves.
As projects develop and evolve to suit the needs of their community there are immediate benefits to be derived even in the process of collaborative planning. Establishing a structure for consistent dialogue focused on identifying what matters most to the community as a whole and working together to translate vision into reality inspires unity and understanding, builds trust and security. Consistency of communication matters a great deal in breaking down barriers while facilitating the open expression of ideas and core values. The process of planning, because it requires cooperation and exchange, contributes substantially to the goal of creating socially cohesive places.
A successful effort is far more painstaking than a corporate or administrative mandate. When citizens themselves are given the power to create the future they envision, their participation in the process gives them a personal investment in its future, lays a stronger foundation. That security enables emotional attachment and increases the potential for any new “placemaking” project to enhance and strengthen its community.
Read more at pps.org