On Monday, March 23, 2015, the Placemaking Strategy Development Workshop Series kicked off in Sault Ste. Marie. The series, co-hosted by the MSU Land Policy Institute, MSU Extension and the Michigan Municipal League, continues into May with workshops taking place in more than 30 communities across Michigan.
On March 6, 2015, the MSU Center for Community and Economic Development (CCED) hosted the 2015 Contemporary Issues Institute on Cultivating a Civil Society in an Era of Incivility in Lansing. It offered participants the opportunity to learn from and discuss with innovative thinkers and doers from across the state and nation on how to change behaviors and engage in respectful dialogue to build a more civil democratic society.
Holly Madill, outreach specialist for the Land Policy Institute’s Planning & Zoning Center, participated in the session on Putting Civility in Place. This session explored the impact that place can have on how people feel and act.
The best way to get to the truth of where you are as a community, is to ask a visitor, from the outside, what their first impression was right after their visit.
Well, I recently had this experience with regard to the Lansing region, specifically the City of East Lansing and the campus of Michigan State University. And I didn’t have to ask. He volunteered. And I cringed.
This person is the Executive Vice President of Human Resources for one of the nation’s three largest high-tech firms in that particular industry. He was visiting Michigan State University, and our region, on a business trip. I know him very well.
He didn’t ask. He stated, “Wow. Things look terrible. What’s going on with all of those abandoned buildings on Grand River in downtown East Lansing?”
My heart sank. Fair or not, there is no denying that downtowns represent a community, and all of us within it and around it. And there is no denying that a downtown is the central environment that global companies and international families judge, as a key indicator, as to whether our neighborhoods, schools and businesses offer a sophisticated, cosmopolitan environment, one worthy enough to choose any of us as home over other global regions like Nashville, Ann Arbor, Austin, Columbus, Madison, San Francisco, London or Stockholm.
The MSU Land Policy Institute has released a Placemaking Assessment Tool (PAT) that will continue to help communities develop quality places that are attractive and functional in Michigan. This tool is a deliverable from LPI in partnership with the Michigan State Housing Development Authority. The purpose of placemaking is to create quality places where people want to live, work, play, learn and visit. Effective placemaking creates or restores a higher quality living environment in key parts of a community through urban development or redevelopment and provides a wider range of living, transportation, entertainment, recreation and related options to existing and new residents in (and visitors to) communities.