"Placemaking" - Great Experience

One participant described the “Placemaking Game” with Project for Public Spaces (PPS) as, “one the best events he had ever attended.” Hyperbole? We’re not sure, but one thing is for sure: the enthusiasm, delight in participating, and belief that it’s possible to create a dynamic public riverfront in Memphis was contagious.

About 134 people met at the Jack Robinson Gallery at S. Front and Huling Saturday, March 31 to take a fresh look at the public spaces on the riverfront. Fred Kent, the founder of PPS, started the day off by telling us what makes great public spaces, reminding us how important they can be for a community, and showing us a few from around the world. There were photos of beautiful gardens, fountains, ponds, children playing, public markets, vendors, cafes, barges turned into swimming pools, the banks of the Seine transformed into an August beach scene, ... – simply public spaces filled with people.

Then we broke up into seven color coded groups, hopped on the trolley, and, equipped with PPS’s evaluation questionnaires, headed down to take a look for ourselves.
Each group evaluated one of the areas, interviewed people at the sites, and just beat the rain to get back to the gallery in time for lunch. As we ate box lunches, each group compiled what they’d learned to present to the larger group.

Everyone was so excited to be involved and to have a say that we almost ran out of time. There were lots of good suggestions for short-term improvements and some thoughts on long-term goals.

Unfortunately PPS’s wrap-up had to be cut short, but we look forward to their input as we work on a “Placemaking” report for the commmunity. We’ll post the information here on the web as soon as it’s completed. (The report is now available. Click here to read/download a copy.(5 MB, Adobe Acrobat)).

We welcome more input. If you participated in the day and have more ideas to add, just e-mail them to info@friendsforourriverfront.org If you couldn’t attend, go down to the seven sites, take a look, and let us know what you see – what’s good, what’s bad, what could be done to make it better. Be specific. If it needs more garbage cans, historical information, chairs, ... or fewer cars, litter, ... let us know. Talk to the people you see there and ask them what they think, too.

To let you know what fun it was, here are some photos from the day.