Medium_optimized-wp_20160303_002 URBACT and ‘Connect the Dots’: Two Community Led workshops around ideas of activating place by community.

06 Mar 14:47

Roisin Byrne

On March 5th 2015 we attend two stylistically different conferences/workshops on a common theme: Community-led placemaking endeavors.

Naomi Murphy and Marisa Denker give a warm welcome. Naomi Murphy and Marisa Denker give a warm welcome

As a TURAS partner, I was fortunate in attending two very different events on ‘Placemaking’ on March 5th 2015. URBACT hosted its ‘Placemaking in Four Cities’ conference in the Eurofound conference center in Loughlinstown, Co Dublin while ‘Connect the Dots’ hosted a pot-luck dinner in the Food Co-op in Newmarket, Dublin 8. While the setting, formality and tone of these events were very different; each had community, activation and placemaking in our cities at heart.

In the first Keynote address at the ‘Placemaking in Four Cities’ conference, Ethan Kent from the Project for Public Spaces gave us his insights from experience such as:

• People want to feel they have contributed to their spaces,
• Small interventions are powerful and lower risk.
• The goal is to shift power back to the community.
• A lot of placemaking seemed to be around places to sit. These simple interventions change the dynamic of a space. ‘What attracts people is other people’

He was followed by many other speakers from Finland, Spain, Hungry and Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown in Ireland who presented their own placemaking projects, varying in typology from temporary to engagement in one of the ‘left behind’ communities of their area in Ballybrack in Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown. If I have a criticism it is for the presentations to be more of a visual/text mix to retain the engagement of the audience.

As well as presentations, we attended a workshop on placemaking led by cities guide Mikko Kyronviita, Project Planner, City of Pori, Finland. Mikko was involved in the projection of this very fun and interesting way to document a city see the link
In the workshop itself, titled, ‘Community-led animation of public spaces’ we discussed, among other things, the value of community empowerment in building community capacity and the burn out of activists who have visions and drive to make spaces better, but don’t get recognized or funded (enough to make a living out of it anyway).

Later that evening, in the Connect the Dots Pot Luck Dinner in the Dublin Food Co-op in Newmarket Dublin 8, we saw many similar themes emerge, amongst others of course. Following sign in, this evening event opened with us being invited to view the 50 + posters of projects concerned with vacant space in Dublin. This is the second event run by Connect the Dots and some of the guests knew each other. However we were heckled in a friendly way to “Sit with people you don’t know!!!”

For myself a question emerges, can we find a way to support and empower these activists and local communities who build social-ecological resilience in our cities? It’s well documented that such actions/placemaking enriches our cities. In the countryside we have Leader +. What about our urban areas?

Certainly events such as the ‘Connect the Dots’ dinner and the ‘Placemaking in Four Cities’ conference are encouraging in their success in bringing together people who are active in placemaking. Communication is empowering indeed.

People with different backgrounds and expertise share tables and insight
People with different backgrounds and expertise share tables and insight

_After the pot luck dinner is eaten we are relaxed and ready to share conversation

Keywords: Community Pot Luck Dinner, Placemaking, Dublin Food Co-op,