After over a year of captivity and living under restrictions, we are at the point where we can start thinking about moving, exploring, and traveling further than just our neighborhood. With the exotic trips many of us used to plan for the vacations not being high on the list this year due to safety concerns (and perhaps a slight shift in perspective to appreciating what we have around us), PlacemakingUS – the regional network of city makers decided this would be a great moment to rediscover the potential of local cities and discuss their role in pandemic response. On May 30, they began their journey through 50 cities in America.
The past year has definitely been one of unpredictability and we have seen that not only in terms of the spread of disease. In many places, after countless years of stagnation excused by lack of resources, system constraints, and never-ending procedures, sudden change occurred and transformations that we previously thought would take decades took only weeks to happen. We witnessed examples of government assistance that we would never expect to see under normal circumstances, and although much of it was for immediate assistance related to medical care and one-time support for businesses, accompanying funds were released for other aspects as well. In the U.S. context, for example, this has left room for $350 billion in community recovery support in the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.
That’s why our friends at PlacemakingUS have packed their bags and set out on their three-month journey across the United States – the goal is to observe how communities are “building back better” and to learn from the examples of community-driven initiatives that are ensuring cities not only survive but rebuild, recognizing the value of social action and social perseverance, which has proven to be one of the little things we can count on when the crisis comes. Since our environment should ideally be the reflection of the values we cherish, the goal is also to examine cities and communities to see what really stands as a foundation for community restoration. This journey is about observing, listening, learning, exploring and sharing, highlighting and spreading the superpowers of Placemakers.
And for this journey we will stick to the old good:
“Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody” – Jane Jacobs
A few words from the organizers (and participants) of the trip:
As the United States emerges from the pandemic, PlacemakingUS is checking in on cities and towns across the land to help ensure that people and places remain at the heart of the American recovery. We’re going on a national whistle-stop tour to make sure placemakers are well-equipped and networked in their locales to utilize this incredible moment. We’re taking this massive trip to diffuse innovation and promote the creation of authentic places and to help ensure post-pandemic urbanism has something for everyone, because it is created by everyone.