Enhancing a community’s sense of place

G4083New UW-Extension resource can help shape communities into better places

Contact: Steve Grabow, 920-674-7295, steve.grabow@ces.uwex.edu

What gives a community its unique identity, sense of place and vitality? A bustling downtown filled with shops, housing and a mix of activities? Clear visual distinction between the country and the city? Ease of movement from one part of the community to another with inviting paths for walking or biking?

For years, experts have studied what goes into good community design. University of Wisconsin-Extension community development educator Steve Grabow and his colleagues, who work directly with local officials and citizens, recognized the need for a tested, but user-friendly guide for learning about and applying these concepts in the community.

A new UW-Extension publication, Principles and Practice of Community Placemaking, (G4083) is the result.

“We wanted to provide a basic understanding of key principles of community design and placemaking for local officials, planners, community development professionals and aspiring citizen planners. And we needed a menu of practical methods to use and apply the principles in practice,” says Grabow, who is based in Jefferson County.

Grabow says the publication was inspired by the book Making Places Special by former UW-Extension specialist Gene Bunnell. It covers 19 basic principles of community placemaking and includes numerous photos and examples of successful placemaking efforts from Wisconsin and around the country.

It also provides ten examples of how specific application techniques have been used and organized around interactive community learning, research, assessment and visioning.

In addition to the publication, Grabow and members of the UW-Extension Community Vitality and Placemaking team conduct trainings, give presentations at professional conferences and directly assist with community efforts. For example, the City of Fort Atkinson is currently using Extension resources in a six-month community placemaking initiative led by Grabow and UW-Extension specialist Todd Johnson.

In the foreword to the publication, Bunnell writes: “Of all the books about community planning and design that I’ve read over the years, I can’t think of a single one that presents the principles of community placemaking as clearly, elegantly and persuasively as Steve Grabow’s Principles and Practice of Community Placemaking.”

You can download or purchase a copy of Principles and Practice of Community Placemaking from the UW-Extension Learning Store at http://learningstore.uwex.edu/Principles-and-Practice-of-Community-Placemaking-P1786.aspx

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