Digital Placemaking: The New Frontier of Community Development

Over the past few decades we’ve seen an explosion of research and work in the science and art of placemaking. The importance of design, public space and public art is being broadly appreciated and implemented in communities around the world, often with stunning results. But in today’s world of social networking, mobile devices and nearly ubiquitous internet connectivity, are solely physical placemaking activities enough?

People look online first for everything these days, and communities are no exception. While it’s definitely vital for your community to have a welcoming, unique and livable physical presence, what is your community’s online presence like? Is it as fresh and lively as the new public square that was just finished, or is it a mish-mash of outdated websites, incorrect business listings and forum posts from 2003? Continue reading “Digital Placemaking: The New Frontier of Community Development”

Elements: Making a Difference in Indianapolis

 

Last month, the Fourth Economy team organized a panel discussion at the annual summit of the University Economic Development Association (UEDA) in Indianapolis, IN. The panel topic “Partnerships for Place-making” brought together a cross-sector of university, private real estate and community development specialists.

How colleges and universities can engage for community and economic development is an important fourth economy element. Aaron Laramore, Program Officer for the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) of Indianapolis summarized the key resources and roles his regional universities play within the community development nexus.

The Role?

  1. Research and Analysis – They can help to effectively define the problem, determine how long has it been going on, how bad it is, and what can be done.
  2. Implementation – They can help development solutions, deployment strategies and evaluate results.
  3. Education – They can help inform the community on project opportunities and guide the community planning process

Resources in Indy?

Within the Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis (IU-PUI) partnership, several centers and community resources exist.

The Center for Urban Health researches the enhancement of health and sustainability for urban populations, focused on environmental legacies to include reduced contamination, removing social and economic disparities and emerging threats such climate change and water quality.

The Center for Service and Learning partners students, faculty and staff with near campus neighborhoods to address community and social justice issues.

The Polis Center is an academic research center with practical and applied orientation on issues related to metro Indianapolis and other mid-sized American cities using geospatial information systems

The Outcomes in Indy?

Several key community improvement initiatives and development projects have resulted through these partnerships.

Improving Kids Environment (IKE) – IKE is a local non-profit in Indianapolis focused on the reduction of environmental threats to children’s health. IKE uses research and tactical expertise from IUPUI to educate residents on soil lead levels, environmental hot spots, safe gardening techniques and air quality monitoring.

Indy Indicators – Indy Indicators is a website resource measuring and engaging people in the quality of life in Central Indiana by providing interactive maps based on census tracts and neighborhoods on key indicators, metrics and community assessments.

IUPUI Fit for Life – Fit for Life assists neighborhoods in creating long-rage health plans to reduce obesity, heart desease, diabetes, high blood pressure and stroke. Fit For Life established a 6,000 square foot wellness center open for use by parents and community members

Growing Nearwest – The IUPUI Herron School of Arts enlisted two classes to create a garden identity and image for the initiative and marketing materials. A design team engaged community residents in determining relevant crops, garden sites and strategies to address water and labor engagement to support the gardens.

Click here to view Aaron’s full presentation:

LISC mobilizes corporate, government and philanthropic support to provide local community development organizations with 1) loans, grants and equity investments, 2) local, statewide and national policy support and 3) technical and management assistance.

If you have a fourth economy partnership story you would like to share with us, drop us a note below…