Parks, plazas, green spaces, public markets, waterfronts – the shared spaces are where a community really expresses itself and builds a supportive, shared culture.
On Saturday, July 12, a group of Victoria BC citizens will take to one public space as part of a growing urban interest in collective “placemaking” – intentional gathering to improve our shared spaces. The space in question, for this informal event, is a roadway that The City of Victoria blocked off last year with the intent of creating a ‘greenway’ on Rockland Avenue.
It remains, though, essentially an empty street – an asphalt space designed for cars, with concrete curbs and sidewalks – a design that says a lot about what it used to be and little about what it could become.
The new Greater Victoria Placemaking Network has invited people to come out for an afternoon of informal interaction in the space – bringing along their friends, family, chairs, tables, games, refreshments and whatever else they think might contribute to an “enhanced” public experience. The group’s Meetup page provides more background.
The initiative is a natural progression from urban walks, cycling advocacy, and other informal discussions among placemaking enthusiasts. It takes as inspiration “tactical urbanism” activities in cities like Portland, Tampa, and Hamilton, where active citizens have led positive changes in the use of public space. Tactical urbanism emphasizes citizen-led short term projects – sometimes known as pop-ups or idea bombing – that create momentum for longer term changes in urban form.