In Placing to date I’ve examined diverse practices and practitioners. I’m thinking along the trajectory that creativity and change are inherently similar. Both change and creativity can also evoke hope. When we set about changing things, we are, in some way creating. The site of that creativity may not necessarily be apparent particularly if the change is about reorienting our ways of thinking or our pathway. If we set out on a new path in order to create an alternate reality or future, we have introduced or made something new, ushered in difference.
Here some notes about a few ideas or themes that are emerging from or repeating across the projects and processes I’ve been writing about. These warrant further consideration as indicators of potential pathways for change in our cultural engagement with the urban environment and place:
- With not to – Participatory or citizen planning and design to facilitate cultural change; planning and design needs to be about people based on an ethic of care (of the self, of community, of the city); prise open the space of everyday ingenuity and ordinary innovation
- Redistribution & Relocalisation – particularly of social and cultural resources and opportunities; impinging on normative binary constructions of suburban/urban; dynamic localities mean dynamic cities and citizenries
- Connections and Conversations – between the local and citywide; all sector approaches (i.e. engage the whole system); no single profession or discourse can claim these issues as their own and that means interdisciplinarity; new approaches to organising and co-creating (some people might call this governance)
- All hands on deck – Everyone has a role to play in understanding the past as well as creating the present and the future; use all the cultural and social resources, not just technical and scientific, that are available
- Fill in the gaps – How to best use, pool and share the resources of government, business, civic sector, education/research and community to make, fund and drive change; dynamic and diverse economies of innovation, collaboration and facilitation that engage small, large and non-profit enterprises
- Rethinking assumptions – aphorisms in planning (aphoristic planning?), like ‘creative cities’, ‘urban renewal’ or even ‘transit oriented development’, shouldn’t result in cardboard cut-out solutions that ‘unspeak’ or ‘unsettle’ the city; patterning such as fractal planning rather than hierarchal planning functioning at different scales; ideas of ‘place’ are culturally based and driven; rethinking assumptions to tell new stories and make new possibilities
- Interdisciplinarity – Sites of transdisciplinary research, creativity and solutions-making should reconnect [to] practice, community, policy, media and industry
- Many small solutions and approaches – there is no single big solution to any of the issues currently facing our cities and communities; all practices need to be somehow culturally inflected place based and local applications of ideas and methods
- Complexity and contradiction – All of this and more means there is a great deal of complexity in the city and that complexity needs to be embraced; create and change with and against the grain of urban and suburban life
- Reaffirm culture – current planning and design paradigms marginalise culture as a subset of social planning and a servant of the economic.