Updated: May 9, 2019

By Andrea Orlando

Community Director

The National Consortium for Creative Placemaking

What should urban design and preservation planners know about creative placemaking? What do they want to know? A lot, it turns out.

The Urban Design and Preservation Division of the American Planning Association is collaborating with the National Consortium for Creative Placemaking to offer webinars on creative placemaking to members.

Planners, and in particular urban designers and historic preservationists, benefit tremendously from knowing more about Creative Placemaking" said Margaret Rifkin, Director the UDP Division Webinar Program. "I hope that our partnership provides our membership with a variety of effective ways to enhance and sustain a successful public realm grounded in the history, values, and community identity."

The webinars will be taught by NCCP Executive Director, Leonardo Vazquez, AICP/PP later this week, in July and in September. The first webinar will focus on ways cultural districts and institutions can integrate better with the cultural and economic life if the neighborhoods where they reside. The second will focus on incorporating the arts into Urban and Site design. The third will explore legal issues involving public art.

A 2017 survey confirmed that members of the division had an interest in learning more about innovative efforts in the field of placemaking, and partnering with NCCP seemed like a natural step, according to Rifkin. 

The first webinar will take place Friday, May 10, and planners are welcome to register through the APA's Urban Design and Preservation Division platform. Learn why cultural districts and institutions may be a double-edged sword for the communities they occupy. Cultural districts and institutions can become catalysts for community-wide creativity and revitalization, they can also absorb a lot of time, energy and resources that could be used effectively elsewhere in the community. Learn how creative placemaking can make it more likely that districts and institutions have a broader impact on their communities.

On July 19th, learn how to design communities and sites to encourage more creative and cultural activities. Participants will also learn how the arts can help improve navigation, safety and other issues in urban and site design.

Vazquez is a national, award-winning planner and leader in two emerging fields in urban planning: creative placemaking and cultural competency. He has two decades of experience in community development, community engagement, small group facilitation, local economic development, leadership development, and strategic communications. He has worked with a wide variety of communities in New Jersey, California, Connecticut, Louisiana, New York, and Pennsylvania. With a strong focus on implementation and sustainability, he specializes in building leadership teams to oversee plans, as well as in raising funds to support planning and implementation efforts. 

He is the author of Leading from the Middle: Strategic Thinking for Urban Planning and Community Development Professionals and co-editor of Dialogos: Placemaking in Latino Communities. He has written for several professional and general interest publications, including Landscape Architecture, NJ Spotlight, Planetizen, Planning, Progressive Planning, and The Star-Ledger

He is the recipient of the 2012 American Planning Association National Leadership Award for Advancing Diversity and Social Justice in Honor of Paul Davidoff—the highest award given in the urban planning field on issues of social equity. He received a Bachelor of Science in Journalism from Northwestern University and a Master of Planning and Master of Public Administration, both from the University of Southern California.

NCCP's involvement with the APA is part of a larger strategy to influence and inform professions allied with creative placemaking. Other professions that are poised to incorporate creative placemaking strategies are arts administration, law enforcement, architecture, landscape architecture, community development, economic development, library science, and others.

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