As cities continue to grow and expand, communities are facing new challenges in balancing livable spaces that meet the needs of their residents. Land use is under pressure to support many, often competing needs. From housing to open space, economic development to quality of life, cars to pedestrians, fostering growth while maintaining character, and on and on. There are numerous needs that are all well… needs. All of these to be met, with limited resources, and done so in a way that promotes physical and mental health and is at the same time financially and environmentally sustainable. It’s a big challenge.
One approach that is gaining traction in many cities is placemaking and beautification, which focuses on creating attractive, engaging public spaces that foster social interaction and community engagement. Previously seen as “nice to haves” placemaking and beautification is nothing new but has historically taken a back seat to other priorities like economic development, and moving or parking cars. Thankfully more communities are realizing the value of placemaking and beautification.
Here are some reasons why cities should prioritize placemaking and beautification:
- Enhance quality of life: Placemaking and beautification projects can improve the quality of life for residents by creating spaces that are welcoming and enjoyable to use. Beautifully designed public spaces can increase civic pride, promote social connections, and provide a sense of place and belonging.
- Boost economic development: By creating attractive and engaging public spaces, cities can attract more visitors and businesses, which can help stimulate economic growth. When people feel more connected to their surroundings, they are more likely to spend time and money in local businesses, leading to increased economic activity. In a recent placemaking project in Waco, TX CivicBrand was able to increase pedestrian traffic by 30% on Austin Avenue, their main street, and slow cars on 6th Street by 23%. Both of these data points directly impact the visibility of local businesses and set them up for greater success.
- Improve health and well-being: Access to well-designed public spaces has been shown to have a positive impact on mental and physical health. By providing opportunities for outdoor activities and social interaction, placemaking and beautification can help reduce stress and promote a healthier lifestyle. Several studies have linked urban green space to lower mortality or fewer health complaints.
- Foster environmental sustainability: Placemaking and beautification projects can also have environmental benefits by promoting sustainable practices such as green infrastructure and water conservation. By incorporating greenery and other natural elements, cities can reduce their carbon footprint and create more resilient and sustainable communities. Utilizing native plants in placemaking and beautification helps save money and the planet.
- Encourage community engagement: When residents are involved in the placemaking and beautification process, they feel a sense of ownership and pride in their community. This can lead to greater engagement and participation in local decision-making, ultimately leading to a stronger and more resilient community. Placemaking and beautification should be more bottom-up than top-down. By empowering residents you’ll find they not only appreciate it more but they take care of it more. You’ll find residents weeding beds and picking up trash around public spaces where they were directly involved in helping improve it. They have a sense of ownership.
Placemaking and beautification projects offer a range of benefits to cities and their residents. Again, these aren’t just nice to have’s that should take a back seat. They are meaningful, and impactful, and can improve the health, happiness, and opportunities of residents. By prioritizing these initiatives, cities can enhance the quality of life for their communities, promote economic development, improve health and well-being, foster environmental sustainability, and encourage community engagement. Investing in the beautification of public spaces is a worthwhile endeavor that can pay dividends for years to come.
A great first step is to have CivicBrand brand come out and conduct a Place Brand Audit where we can surface placemaking and beautification opportunities in your community. This is a simple, low-cost step that will put your community on the right path. If you’re interested in learning more reach out and let’s talk.