Placemaking: 5 Easy Ways to Build the Human Connection

Placemaking: 5 Easy Ways to Build the Human Connection

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Placemaking: 5 Easy Ways to Build the Human Connection: @SouthwestAir @NetImpact
Tuesday, November 4, 2014 - 11:00am

In today’s world, we are more “connected” than ever before. I often feel ruled by the technology in my life. Whether it is the constant barrage of text messages coming in or the endless flow of emails on my iPad, there are times when so much “connection” leaves me feeling distant from those around me. Don’t get me wrong, I love technology; but there is also something that is so gratifying about meeting a friend for coffee in a park or going with my daughter to an outdoor craft fair and running into our neighbors. These experiences remind me to focus on a different kind of “connection” — the human connection.

Active public spaces are crucial to forming this connection. After all, society began in public spaces, and these places still play an essential and unique role in cities, providing opportunities for community building, artistic expression, local commerce, play, learning, relaxation, and recreation. Ideally, our public spaces are activated through Placemaking, a transformative approach that inspires people to create and improve the places they share.

Realizing the importance of connection to places, we at Southwest Airlines decided to take our participation in the communities we serve in a new direction. Specifically, we wanted to be more than just a means to arrive at a destination — we wanted to become part of the destination itself. In 2014, we made a three-year commitment to Project for Public Spaces to do this very thing ... help reinvent the human connection in cities and bring Placemaking all around the country.

We want you to be a part of this too.

I once heard a local partner say, “The usual suspects hinder progress. Give me a small group of passionate people, and I can do anything.” Fred Kent, founder and President of Project for Public Spaces, often calls for the need for more impassioned citizens whose dedication to Placemaking brings vast community improvements. He calls these people “zealous nuts” – zealous because they have tons of energy and passion, and nuts because they are crazy enough to try new things and overturn old assumptions.

Cultivating a strong sense of place does not always need to involve large amounts of capital, endless bureaucratic red tape, and heavy infrastructure development. The beauty of Placemaking is that all you need to get started are a few people with vision (zealous nuts) and an understanding of what your community needs.

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