conference / network planning / Placemaking / public space / traffic calming

Reflecting on a Successful Placemaking Week in Chattanooga

During the week of October 1st, Mary Elbech travelled to Chattanooga to take part in the 3rd International Placemaking Week. As a way to show visitors all that the city had to offer, the conference hosted sessions at different venues providing the opportunity to wander through the city centre to experience the conference. Mary knew she had arrived to the right place as she turned a corner to find a closed road filled with music, dancing and people gathered. “This is how you know you’re at a placemaking conference!”

Chattanooga was a perfect host for placemaking week, with alleyway activations hosting street parties, public space turned over to encourage gathering and of course, bike lanes and bike share to get visitors and residents around the festivities.

On the final day of the conference, Mary joined colleagues from People for Public Spaces (PPS) to host the Streets as Places Crash Course. The three hour workshop gave participants from the worlds of advocacy, planning and engineering the opportunity to learn how traffic calming from a network level can ultimately help inform the designs and activations at the street level. Mary shared her knowledge and expertise of traffic calming, encouraging them to take a step back and look at the overall structure, explaining that if you can understand how the network can work as a larger whole, it is easier to develop successful projects that work as part of the collective.

Participant were engaged, eager to put what they learned in the session and throughout the conference into action, first through reimagining how to designate space at the network level. The PPS team then led the group through a series of public space activation mock ups, which featured everything from playgrounds, to street furniture and adding green elements. Gary Toth, PPS Executive Director, described successful public space as “having 10 layers of activity to it.” Something the group took to heart, letting their creativity flourish through their sketches.

Placemaking Week brings together people from all areas of urbanism, planning and advocacy. In reflecting on her time spent in Chattanooga, Mary is enthusiastic for the excitement and passion she experienced from fellow conference goers. The city itself, with its creative spirit, played the perfect host, and she left with anticipation for how the lessons learned and shared throughout the week will continue to impact not only Chattanooga, but communities around the world as they become places for connection and gathering.

Mary Elbech

‘To me, the most important parameter when working with mobility is always the human experience.’

Integrated Mobility Consultant
+1 (704) 740-0614