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Motor City vs. Circle City

Motor City vs. Circle City

Placemaking and Detroit, you might not expect to hear those words in the same sentence—especially with all of the recent headlines about the city’s financial state. And you might be just as surprised to learn the Detroit has been deemed thePlacemaking Capitol of the World byProject for Public Space (PPS); yet, earlier this year, myself, and Ashlee Fujawa attended PPS inaugural International Placemaking Council in the Motor City. Recent leadership efforts by Rock Ventures and Opportunity Detroit have brought attention to Detroit as a city that is investing resources to create ‘place’ in a downtown that is struggling.

By creating plans for redeveloping the great spaces of Detroit’s downtown into places for people to live, work and play; important community areas like Hart Plaza, Campus Martius Park, and Grand Circus Park will all be transformed to be the anchors for downtown.

Yet, this week we learned that Detroit became the largest city in the nation to file for bankruptcy. This city is open for placemaking with a blank slate on which to start. Finding the beauty and working with community to rehabilitate unused spaces to be part of the urban environment again, we createplace. Placemaking involves making a space inviting, engaging and encouraging of community interaction at the local level. It raises the broader spirit and aesthetic of a neighborhood, region or the city as a whole.

Through KIB’s IPL Project GreenSpace and community partners, we are doing similar work. By rehabbing a bus stop in Devington, we bring new experience to public transportation. By creating a pocket park and rain garden in Mapleton-Fall Creek, we build new connectivity in a neighborhood and support local efforts to enhance the neighborhood’s LEED-ND qualification. On a vacant lot in Martindale-Brightwood, we helped build upon the neighborhood’s efforts and enhanced a community garden.

These places may be smaller than what is proposed in Detroit, but their impact is proportionally as great as we engage neighbors and build a more beautiful natural environment for all of Indy—even if Detroit is the Placemaking Capitol of the World…