Highlights of earlier placemaking residencies
This year’s placemaking experts expanded on themes articulated in earlier residencies.
- “Is your ZIP code more important than your genetic code” for determining health, asked Dr. Anthony Iton, former Alameda County, California, health commissioner and now vice president for healthy communities of the California Endowment at last year’s residency.” He noted that in Alameda County (which includes inner city Oakland as well as wealthy enclaves), “We have areas where people live shorter lives, substantially shorter, 20 years shorter than in other areas.” Even in Minneapolis-St. Paul, he reported, there is an 8-year life expectancy gap between richer and poorer neighborhoods.
- “It’s everybody’s city,” Charles Landry, author of The Creative City, noted in 2012 — and this means everyone’s creativity is necessary to secure a brighter future. It’s not enough to involve only the so-called “creative class,” which account for no more than 25-30 percent of people, he said, even in a forward-looking place like Minneapolis-St. Paul.
- “Cities thrive on the basis of exchanges. How do you get all people to meet, talk and communicate with one another,” Landry asked. “Rich and poor groups need to share spaces—that’s one of the issues of the 21st century.”
- 2013 Placemaking Resident Katherine Loflin rose to national prominence as the researcher of the Knight Foundation’s Soul of a Community Project, a landmark study on 26 metropolitan regions, including Minneapolis-St. Paul, that broke new ground by identifying “community attachment” as a leading indicator of regional economic success. While giving us generally high marks, she said we were weak in the category of openness, noting that only a quarter of people interviewed felt we are welcoming to immigrants and people of color.
- International community consultant Gil Penalosa, originally from Colombia, admitted in 2014 that after a number of visits to the Twin Cities, he sometimes thinks he’s in Scandinavia. “Every one is blonde and blue-eyed at some of the meetings. Then I go to Central High School or the Lake Street light rail station and I see many blacks and other visible minorities.” It’s crucial these people are involved in the conversation about making a better community, he said.