Healthy Communities at the Placemaking Leadership Council

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One of the aims of April’s Placemaking Leadership Council’s (PLC) inaugural meeting was to form an agenda for a global campaign for placemaking as a movement. The 300 delegates from around the world spilt into groups tacking different aspects of placemaking – from multiuse destinations and transport to entrepreneurial places and place governance. I joined the healthy communities group, which will be the focus of this piece. The group was made up of a diverse cluster of practitioners from across the realm of urban activity, from housing services, universities, from the PLC founders, Project for Public Spaces (PPS), regeneration professionals and those that work in creative and grassroots placemaking. The aim was to examine the role that placemaking has vis-à-vis healthy communities and to share and discuss best practices, the opportunities for and challenges of this work, and feed into the PLC agenda formation and create messages for the placemaking campaign. A noted challenge was the need to build a broader support base for such work to enable its impact across the sector and across a region or country via policy. Jargon-free communication was viewed as a barrier to any placemaking campaign, and the need to create a simple and compelling message that could cut across sector silos of expertise and political agendas and that focused on the benefits of healthy places on individuals, taxpayers and the economy. From this latter point came a natural flow into consideration of how to measure and communicate impact of placemaking and health – personal storytelling is a powerful tool, but quantitatively, what do we measure and how? Suggested action points for a healthy communities placemaking campaign included a placemaking guide for policymakers and a policy guide and training for placemakers; the need to package and communicate existing research, as well as work to identify research needs; and to document and disseminate the qualitative and quantitative benefits of...
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