The Scenic Route: Getting Started with Creative Placemaking in Transportation

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February 2016

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The Scenic Route: Getting Started with Creative Placemaking in Transportation

The Scenic Route: Getting Started with Creative Placemaking in Transportation is an online interactive guide to creative placemaking, an emerging approach to planning and building transportation projects that taps local culture and to produce better projects through a better process.

More than ever, transportation agencies need a greater level of support in local communities to make projects happen. Meaningfully engaging the public so they have a say over the project may be a little daunting for public agencies, but it ultimately makes the project more successful — whether a project as basic as the redesign of an intersection or as complex as the construction of a new light rail line.

Building more support by better engaging the public can help avoid 11th hour controversies and build the type of public trust that is more important than ever for advancing ambitious infrastructure plans or winning new revenue for transportation at your city council, the ballot box or in your state legislature.

Creative placemaking harnesses the power of arts and culture to allow for more genuine public engagement — particularly in low-income neighborhoods, communities of color and among immigrant populations — in the development of transportation projects. Forget the traditional, staid public meeting format and instead imagine artists engaging community members using multiple languages to generate meaningful dialogues, capturing their creativity and local knowledge to better inform the ultimate design of the project.

Done right, creative placemaking can lead to both a better process and a better product, in this case integrating community-inspired art into the ultimate design of the project as so many of the case studies in this guide demonstrate.

The end results are streets, sidewalks and public spaces that welcome us, inspire us and move us in every sense of that word. It doesn’t take much to get started, but it does require a new approach to public engagement along with intentional partnerships with artists, arts councils and community-based organizations.