Notes from Colleen’s Desk: Placemaking in Progress!

Yes, I have been out on the trail again – not far from home – which is a fabulous feature of living here in Southern Oregon.

What’s a gal to do with all this time alone… but to take a hike! Or clean the house again, paint that room that’s been put off for some time, build raised flower beds, or possibly (as I know is the case for a least one associate) scout out the best possible location on the property for a tree house!  This is placemaking in progress.

Yes, placemaking.  It’s another way to describe all those things that make our own space attractive, comfortable, inviting. It’s the personality we bring to our surroundings. We often refer to it as quality of place.

We are absorbed right now with thoughts about what would make our homes even more livable and inviting for guests – the ones we can’t wait to entertain and invite over for dinner again. Or play ping pong – which happens to my recent “recreational asset” purchase, along with a badminton and croquet set.

As it happens, placemaking is one of the initiatives within our One Rogue Valley strategy. Much like those various renovation projects we take on in our own homes, or those recreational investments we make, our communities also have many placemaking initiatives and dreams in motion right now.  Our collective sights are set on making our region wonderfully livable for our citizens and incredibly attractive to the professionals who are seeking to work, live and invest here.

Wikipedia defines it as a “multi-faceted approach to the planning, design and management of public spaces that capitalizes on a local community’s assets, inspiration, and potential, with the intention of creating public spaces that promote people’s health, happiness, and well-being.”

Certainly, we are in the middle of a serious pandemic right now and all hands are on deck to address immediate and critical needs. However when we come through this crisis, the  lack of available housing in every category of affordability, shortage of skilled workers, and the  lack of adequate infrastructure that thriving communities need – whether it’s transportation networks, water systems, recreational amenities or community centers – are things we are pondering even now.

Many of those items happen to also be considerations for your vote in the May 19 election. Find your voters pamphlet, read up, be informed on the various measures and vote!

You may now be wondering how placemaking has anything to do with my photo, right? Simple answer is … everything.  It’s not just about the spectacular view … but oh my goodness! It’s about the sign!

I couldn’t have asked for a better visual cue on what I wanted to share this week, respective to the importance of placemaking in any community.

Let’s break it down from my perspective:

Narrow Trail Yes, most stellar endeavors can seem narrow, winding, daunting and downright scary. This is particularly true when we must figure out the best way to fund and pay for the amenities our communities desire and desperately need.

Rock Outcrops – Indeed there will be obstacles to navigate and we need to pay careful attention to the steps we take. Rocks could be on the trail. And unfortunately, others (naysayers in the community) may throw rocks at our great endeavors.

Next ½ Mile – Our placemaking initiatives may require sustained energy and we simply can’t make quick, lackadaisical decisions. It will take time. It may be longer than a half mile. When it comes to big ideas and initiatives, we need to think longer term than just a walk out to our mailbox.

Watch For Other Users – Had I created that trail sign, I might have put this part first. After all, it is not just about us – but about all other users that make our communities, well, our community!  I may not ever use a community center or swim a lap in an indoor aquatics center, but it is exactly what a myriad of other local citizens – elderly and young alike – need. Every citizen is a vital component of our community.

Isn’t that what placemaking is all about– envisioning, designing, and creating amenities and assets that make our home and our communities so amazing that citizens continue to invest and engage right here? And, visitors that return time and time again, making contributions to our local economy? I think so.

Please take time to read up on your local placemaking measures and vote on May 19. Your community needs your input, your engagement and your support. Happy trails. Watch for the rocks!

Sincerely, Spur

Colleen Padilla, Executive Director

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