Lessons learned and shared

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Michigan’s experience with placemaking for the past decade – building and supporting initiatives that create communities where everyone can love where they live – makes it a perfect case study for others around the globe.

That’s why the Michigan Municipal League and our partners at the Michigan Economic Development Corp. were recently featured speakers at the Project for Public Spaces’ Placemaking Week in Amsterdam, and later on panels hosted by PPS and the Living Space Project in London.

League Executive Director and CEO Dan Gilmartin.

The League’s Executive Director and CEO Dan Gilmartin, Deputy Executive Director and Chief Membership Officer Summer Minnick, and Director of Policy Development Shanna Draheim shared findings from a new report –A Decade of Placemaking in Michigan. The report is a retrospective of the League’s work in the placemaking arena since the early 2000s. The purpose of the report is to remind League members and the public where we’ve been, show what we’ve accomplished, and use that to help the League set the stage for future placemaking work.

“Placemaking is about improving the human experience,” Gilmartin said.

The session explored how the intensive efforts of statewide and local partners have broadened the scale and impact of placemaking in Michigan. It also served as inspiration for Placemaking Week attendees from around the world who want to make their communities better.

Panelists shared lessons learned through a decade of placemaking.

Cathleen Edgerly, COO/Director of Howell Main Street Inc. and Downtown Development Authority, shared her community’s efforts to create better places to live, work, play and stay.

Also during Placemaking Week, MEDC Senior Vice President for Community Development Katharine Czarnecki was featured on a panel about how to fund placemaking projects.

While those projects can help transform parks, squares, streets, waterfronts and many other places, these projects can’t get off the ground without significant support and operating budgets that sustain them.

To that end, Czarnecki shared Michigan’s successful Public Spaces, Community Places project, a collaborative effort of the MEDC, the League and Patronicity where local residents can use crowdfunding to be part of the development of strategic projects in their communities and be backed with a matching grant from MEDC.

Already, Czarnecki said, more than 140 projects have been crowdfunded, raising more than $4 million.

MEDC Senior Vice President for Community Development Katharine Czarnecki.

Lastly, MML Foundation President Gisgie Dávila Gendreau shared Michigan’s long history of partnering with the philanthropic community to support placemaking efforts around the state. Hosted by PPS and the Living Space Project, the event gave fundraisers and grantmakers an opportunity to find ways to work together, better measure results, and include those who will be impacted by placemaking efforts.