Chicago Placemaking Festival Aims to teach Old Places New Tricks

Art City Terrain Midwest Urbanism
(Metropolitan Planning Council)

(Metropolitan Planning Council)

In a few short years, the term placemaking has migrated from wonky urban planning circles to neighborhoods across the country—that communities come together around public space is no groundbreaking observation, but when successful the idea can be revolutionary on a local scale.

So hopes Chicago’s Metropolitan Planning Council, who this weekend will sponsor “Old Place New Tricks,” a bid to “activate” neighborhoods from Englewood to Ravenswood with public space interventions that range from a “healthy eating happy hour” to “Selfie Sunday.”

Kids jump rope in July by a vacant house—one of many in Chicago's Englewood neighborhood. (Courtesy I Grow Chicago via Facebook)

Kids jump rope in July by a vacant house—one of many in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood. (Courtesy I Grow Chicago via Facebook)

In all 18 events will rally neighborhoods across the city (and in the suburb of Blue Island), starting today and running through Sunday. MPC put together a map of them, which you can explore here.

Placemaking gives people the power to transform their neighborhoods, one space at a time,” said MPC’s Kara Riggio in a statement. “We at MPC hope this challenge provides communities an opportunity to tackle those vacant or underused spaces they’ve been eyeing for a while. Most of all, though, we hope it’s a chance for people to get together with friends and neighbors for a great summer event!”

No one’s under the illusion that pop-up art installations and weekend get-togethers can untangle the mess of problems plaguing many Chicago neighborhoods, but there’s hope that a community event focused on violence prevention in Austin, for example, or a peace-themed conference in Englewood may constitute a good start.

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