What is Placemaking?

The word “Placemaking” can seem like confusing jargon, so we’re going to let the experts define what it really means. Pioneers of placemaking, Project for Public Spaces, says: “Placemaking inspires people to collectively reimagine and reinvent public spaces as the heart of every community. Strengthening the connection between people and the places they share, Placemaking refers to a collaborative process by which we can shape our public realm in order to maximize shared value.”

Placemaking describes efforts that bring transportation and urban planning, sustainability, arts, ecology, and landscape architecture together to build healthier and more livable cities and neighborhoods. Unique to the concept of placemaking is the emphasis of collective and public input and ownership of public spaces. Placemaking is about designing spaces for the needs and desires of those who live in or use them.

Examples of placemaking can range from broad scale efforts like a neighborhood movement to revitalize or redesign a public park, to small changes like adding a bench or landscaping to a public bus stop.

Want to learn more? Check out PPS’s “Placemaking is…”

Our existing work and focus on trails, active transportation, and conservation are essential to placemaking efforts throughout the region. As placemakers, Portland Trails helps to shape the local physical and social landscape by creating space and opportunities to bring people together to participate in creating the public places they want. We are deeply involved with the city planning process, and advocate for development features that support vibrant, walkable, and connected neighborhoods. We want local residents and businesses to determine which spaces become places in their neighborhood.

Portland Trails helps thousands of people take care of trails and green spaces through our extensive corporate and public volunteer work days. We engage the community in events from pop-up parklets, to bike parades, to road races. We collaborate with numerous community partners–businesses, schools, other non-profits–to offer events on the trails that engage a variety of people. For many years, our placemaking work was focused on local schoolgrounds, facilitating community processes to transform spare school yards into multi-dimensional play spaces for people of all ages and interests. The School Ground Greening Coalition completed their mission but their impact can be seen on every school ground in Greater Portland. Here’s a virtual tour through one project.

As we look to the future, we hope to further our placemaking work by helping neighborhoods create community hubs, enhancing urban ecology in public spaces, hosting more pop-up and neighborhood events, and linking trails to transit with bus shelters, benches, and attractive, accessible street amenities.