How can placemaking in cities around the world contribute to our global recovery?

Join CUI’s President and CEO Mary W. Rowe, along with Ethan Kent, Executive Director, PlacemakingX; Ramon Marrades, Director, Placemaking Europe; Lhazin Nedup, Planning Consultant, Urban Platform; and Ayanda Roji, General Manager: Corporate Research, Policy and Knowledge Management, Johannesburg City Parks, for an exploration how placemaking will contribute towards a global recovery, while creating a thriving, more equitable, and sustainable world.

5 Key

A roundup of the most compelling ideas, themes and quotes from this candid conversation


1. Reclaim the streets and build public space from the grassroots

City-builders in a post-COVID pandemic world need to recognize the vulnerability of coming back into public spaces, connecting with people, and falling back in love with the city, says Ethen Kent, Executive Director at PlacemakingX. Ethan reiterates the importance of building public spaces from the grassroots up, centered around existing communities and neighbourhoods. In New York City (NYC), individuals committed to the city long-term have remained. They are organizing themselves and reclaiming the streets, sidewalks, and other public spaces. Local neighbourhoods continue to be resilient during the recovery process, they see the importance of shared wealth, the connections to public spaces, economic success, and social outcomes. Placemaking is about building spaces where people can support each other and recruit their collective empathy. Ethan concludes saying that ‘The gated communities fail to appreciate shared wealth and local identity, and that is a bankrupt way of living’.

2. Informal workers and youth need support in the public realm

In South Africa, they are getting youth involved in civic discussions by using Minecraft (a creative video game). Young people are needed to tackle wicked problems cities face, deserving special recognition in placemaking realm. They are integral when building a future, one they will one-day inherit. So young people expressed their needs, specifically noting their need for ‘chilling space’ and an information wall outlining available jobs and programs. Ayanda Roji, General Manager of Corporate Research, Policy and Knowledge Management at Johannesburg City Parks reinforces the notion that informality is good. In South Africa, Sidewalks Food Gardens initiative is transforming street corners into food gardens. Similarly, other cities like Banjul in Gambia and Dire Dawa in Ethiopia are reorganizing their markets, converting their streets, and reducing car lanes to accommodate informal workers or informal trade and vending. These placemaking spaces are locally driven to focus on the needs of informal workers.

3. Placemaking initiatives build social resilience and contribute to economic development

Lhazin Nedup, Planning Consultant at Urban Platform gives us a snapshot into Bhutan’s placemaking initiatives that have significantly improved the country’s resiliency amid the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Lhazin, the De-Suung or ‘Guardians of Peace’ Program was built [at the start of the pandemic] in the spirit of volunteerism, community service and civic responsibility. The program invites residents to undergo training on a voluntary basis so they can respond to emergencies. The COVID-19 pandemic increased the number of participants or ‘Desuups’ in the program with approximately 22,000 residents across Bhutan getting involved. The Desuups were essential in building space in the city as they worked on water projects and construction sites. Another initiative happening in Bhutan is called The Trans Bhutan Trail. This initiative plans to revive a 500-kilometer cross-country trail that spreads across 9 of 20 districts in Bhutan. This placemaking project will strengthen people’s connection to place, preserve history and stimulate economic growth in the form of tourism. Bhutan will rely on tourists to generate revenue and funds to maintain public infrastructure. We can see how placemaking can also be an economic development tool. Lhazin described these examples of great placemaking because they are about “…creating communities that have the greater capacity to self-organize, to pilot their ideas, to express outreach and solidarity”. She quoted urbanist Fred Kent who said ‘True #placemaking is not about creating great places, rather it’s about creating great communities’.

4. Without great public spaces, the magic of a city is lost

“Nowadays doctors are not falling in love with dancers because they are not seeing each other”. Ramon Marrades, Director at Placemaking Europe said poetically about the problem of gated community. “Private communities are depriving people of many possibilities.” Ramon also reiterates the importance of a broad social mix and opening our cities to migrants, international students, and diverse groups of people so they can find prosperity and then, in turn make our cities vibrant and prosperous. Diversity in public space is vital for economic development. The City of Barcelona is launching an online initiative called After COVID City Public Space for Recovery to understand the role of places and people in the recovery process. Cities must invest in people and that also means investing in more inclusive, accessible public spaces.

5. Canada sees great value in transforming public spaces in response to COVID-19 pandemic

Placemaking initiatives can help build resiliency and equity in our communities. The COVID-19 pandemic has given us an opportunity to rethink, reimagine and transform public spaces. We need to put individual health and well-being at the forefront. Canada’s Healthy Communities Initiative is dedicated to helping community organizations who wish to help create safe and vibrant public spaces, improve mobility options, and provide innovative digital solutions. The initiative encourages communities across Canada to create physical or digital public spaces that are resilient, equitable, and inclusive so they can provide their communities strength during the pandemic recovery period.


Full Panel

Note to readers: This video session was transcribed using auto-transcribing software. Manual editing was undertaken in an effort to improve readability and clarity. Questions or concerns with the transcription can be directed to with “transcription” in the subject line.

Mary Rowe [00:00:40] Hi, everyone, it’s Mary Rowe from the Canadian Urban Institute, really, really pleased to be welcoming you here to a session on the potential of placemaking to really catalyze and galvanize recovery in cities around the world. And we’re thrilled to be partnering with Placemaking X with this global network of placemakers, of which these three, four are great dynamic contributors to, and that Ethan Kent is running. And Ethan was helpful to us in putting this session together and just raising the profile of why we feel we’re in a moment. We’re in a moment placemaking may actually take hold and be a much more common practice. I’m afraid I’m old enough to remember when nobody even knew what placemaking was. And we’re hoping that through the efforts of these folks and all the constituencies that they’re representing and all the people that are coming on to city talk today that we’re making the point that actually placemaking is a really dynamic, locally driven, phenomenal thing that can really affect the quality of people’s lives and how they earn livings and how they sustain themselves and and navigate their way in urban life. So the Canadian Urban Institute is in the connective tissue business is all of you know and we’re coming to you. I happen to be in Toronto today, which is the traditional territory of a number of First Nations as specifically. And we always try to acknowledge the First Nations. And I’m going to invite everybody that comes on there on the call to indicate which where your ancestral lands are. But as you may have heard us say before, in Toronto, a number of First Nations are involved here, the Haudenasaunee, the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa and the Wendat peoples, and it continues to be home to First Nation Métis and other Indigenous peoples. And we’re coming to terms, I would say, in the urbanism movement here in Canada with legacies of exclusion. And that continues to be something that we have to confront every day, not only the legacy of it, but the perpetuation of it in terms of how we build cities and how can we make them more inclusive. How can we face directly anti-Black racism and all the different ways in which we’ve entrenched these colonial patterns into the way that we have built urban forms? So I think, as we’ve all acknowledged, COVID given us this unbelievable opportunity to really take stock and imagine going forward what a different kind of future needs to look like, must look like. And as everyone says, it’s not just one pandemic. We’ve had several at the same time. The other thing that I just want to acknowledge is that there are parts of Canada that continue to be besieged by COVID, where we have high, high incidence rates, particularly in workplaces, congregate living settings, almost always in racialized lower income neighbourhoods where essential workers live and where there aren’t adequate kinds of supports. Again, these have all been exposed during COVID. And the extent to which the challenge, I think, for all of us working in urban life is going to be how do we step forward and really never go back to what was and need to fundamentally do things quite, quite differently. So as I suggested, we’re in lockdown here in Toronto. Most parts of Canada are. It’s quite different south of the border where they’re opening because they had a higher incidence of COVID in the first place. So there are more people there with immunity because they contracted the virus and they have a higher vaccination rate. But Canada’s catching up. And we have folks here, we actually have four continents on this call today. And I’m going to ask them each to just give us a little snapshot of what COVID looks like outside their door. And then we’re going to talk about placemaking. So, again, I appreciate people who are checking in online to tell us where they’re coming from. Everybody knows that we taped these. We then post highlights, we post the video and we’ll post highlights. And we also post all the fascinating things that people put in the chat. So by all means, use that parallel function. I love this demonstration that not everybody learns the same. Some people learn visually, some people learn orally, and some people learn through typing. And we’ve got three channels of learning going on here. So feel free to throw stuff into the chat and feel free to respond to one another and put resources up there, which is tremendous. As I said, we preserve that and it gets posted so people can look at it again. I don’t know what number read on city talks. We’re probably close to 100. So we’re very appreciative of how engaged people have been in trying to make sense of what we’re actually seeing and what it tells us and informs us and teaches us about how cities actually recover, build their resilience, struggle, change, adapt, all those things of which placemaking is such an important part. So welcome to this city talk and welcome to this session to talk about placemaking. Canada is in the midst of a pioneering program called the Canada Healthy Communities Initiative, which the federal government set up and which CUI is pleased to be partnered with Community Foundations of Canada to administer. And that has put a call out to communities across the country to come up with ideas, placemaking ideas that would strengthen their community for which they would benefit from some financial support. And hundreds and hundreds and hundreds and hundreds and hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of not for profits and charities and community groups and local governments and local groups and consortiums and have gone together and thrown their energies together to figure out, well, what would they do? What would a placemaking initiative look like that would build resilience, build equity and be a kind of intervention into their community that could really strengthen as they recover. And all of those folks came into the first round. And the recipients of that first round of funding are being announced this week and two days from now. We have a session on Friday with the minister where some of those recipients will be highlighted and where the second round of applications will be opened. So I feel it’s a really pregnant moment here for Canada, which is why I’m really happy to have Ayanda and Ramon and Ethan and Lhazin to join us to connect us with the world of placemaking the global potential of placemaking so that we understand what we’re part of and also to help us learn about how we’re going to cultivate this community of placemakers in this constituency of placemaking, because not everybody will get funding from the federal government. But there are other options and other possibilities. And so we’re now being challenged to be really resourceful about how we actually make this stuff happen. And so who better than the four of you? And I’m going to start with you, Ethan, if I may, in New York City. Ethan and I are old colleagues and he is the guy behind Placemaking X. He knows placemakers everywhere and he’s been at it for a lot of years. It’s actually really it is truly in his DNA to be a place maker. So, Ethan, thanks for joining us on City Talk. Really happy to have you. And if you can just open it up, first of all, COVID out your door, what’s it look like for you in the community you’re in? And then talk a little bit, if you can, about your scope of where placemaking goes. Oh, yes. The other thing is I’m supposed to plug if you want closed captioning, down right, bottom right live transcript click. I think this is the first time we’re offering it. You can read our words, and I’d be fascinated to see how the transcript transcribes all of us. You can click that thing on the bottom right and you’ll get a transcript. You’ll get to live captioning. OK, Ethan, over to you.


Ethan Kent [00:07:52] Well, Mary, thank you so much for this great intro and for convening us here and honoured to be to be led by you. There’s no one better to lead a conversation like this on so many levels. Certainly. And, you know, I’m thinking about New York and how we’re coming out of this right now. I’m, you know, grateful for you are leading the actually the conversations on resilience here over many years after Hurricane Sandy. And I think New York’s probably a lot stronger for it. And we certainly know how to discuss these things and think about it a lot better. So it is here in New York, it’s actually, you know, some optimistic time. It’s been you know, it’s been a really challenging, you know, year plus lots of ups and downs. You know, we’ve all sort of been stuck in our homes. But this spring, you know, like many New York springs, it’s about sort of learning how to be together again. But at a whole another level, you know, learning is sort of the vulnerability of stepping out into public spaces, of learning how to connect with people, to falling back in love with our city, being optimistic about its future. And, you know, I mean, it’s a really fertile time. There’s you know, there’s major challenges. There’s you know, a lot of people are still suffering. But it is a time to think about how we can build back from the public spaces, up from the grassroots up, defined by the existing communities. A lot of the most, you know, the wealthy people, the people that were causing the City to be more exclusive. A lot of them aren’t here right now, actually. So it’s a lot of people that have been committed to the city for a long time and will shape its future. The ones that are shaping the open streets, the you know, the plazas, the you know, the streeteries, the way the businesses are building back from the grassroots, up from the streets, from the sidewalk, from the public space up. So, you know, I do think, you know, New York will provide some models, you know, going forward. The open streets here have certainly been a point of innovation. And, you know, it’s really the neighbourhoods that are organizing informally or formally to reclaim their streets, to give back to the street, to participate in. Again, those are the ones that are are really thriving right now, actually, and are going to thrive coming out of the, you know, the pandemic and frankly, the ones that didn’t you know, you can go a block away from some of these and it’s actually quite it’s quite dead and they’re suffering. And so it really shows how the sort of competing to contribute to the public realm, to streets is a model that can go viral, that can create those virtuous cycles of building shared wealth, of community wealth. And so we’re experiencing that very much firsthand here. But we’re also seeing people come to similar conclusions around the world so through the PlacemakingX networks, there’s now over 15 of them. And, you know, lucky to have a few of them represented here. We’re seeing leadership and, you know, in challenges in very different, you know, manifesting themselves in different ways. And so part of the theory of PlacemakingX is that every part of the world is leading from some area and walking from another, and they’re all overcoming different challenges. But we need the learning has to be global and we have to support each other in different times, in different ways, you know, as we need it, you know, and also to highlight the incredible innovation, dedication that, you know, the creativity that’s occurring at the grassroots but often not appreciated. And how we how together we’re all we’re actually all having a huge impact and more importantly, creating the models, the governance, financing, the models that lead with place, that can be replicated and expanded upon. So I think, you know, placemaking, like you said, has gotten a lot of attention. You know, it’s getting attention for sort of the lighter, quicker, cheaper, the short term tactical aspects of it. And now a lot of the conversation needs to and really is becoming more about how does focus on place in public space reinvent our approaches to urbanization, to development, to, you know, to the governance and participation? How do we scale up that impact? How do we see the pandemic? And, you know, the placemaking movement have sort of gone to the micro level, have shown we’ve gone back in our homes, we’ve slowly come out. Now it’s time to sort of reinvent how we connect with each other, with our neighbours, how we collectively act to shape our shared environments and then work together globally to create new systems. You know, the systemic change really that’s needed to address our bigger challenges. You know, ones you’ve mentioned of equity, of climate change, of opportunity for all. And, you know, I’m really excited to hear from others. I know, you know, Ramon, Ayanda and Lhazin are all dealing with this from different perspectives and have great insight and all this. I’m really excited to be part of this conversation.


Mary Rowe [00:12:49] You know, your comment about how we all have kind of gone inside, we’re like snails, you know, we all gone inside under our shell and now we’re going to gradually get out. And what is that going to look like? I’m sure that because marketing and advertising is a global phenomenon, I suspect you’ve all seen this gum commercial that’s doing the rounds of people finally being released from their apartments. It’s a very humorous piece. And of course, the other thing is it’s the back song is Canada’s own Celine Dion song. But it’s a very anthem, anthemic tribute to collective living. And I think that obviously we have an impulse around that. But placemaking gives us a place to go and to actually share. So I can just encourage people in the chat to change your settings to make sure it’s going to panelists and I think it’s called panelists and everyone. Otherwise only the five of us see it. So panelists and attendees shift your settings, so everybody can see it. Let’s go to you, Ayanda. Can we you’re in Johannesburg. And when we did the advanced call, we did a little temperature check. And it turns out that all of us at the moment are in temperatures where it’s 17 degrees. We don’t know how this has happened because we’re on four different continents. But for some reason, it’s 17 degrees everywhere in City Talk today. But Ayanda, tell us, what is COVID like out your door in Joburg and then talk to us about your experience of placemaking in South Africa and in the continent, Africa, whatever you choose. But welcome to City Talk. We’re really happy to have you here.


Ayanda Roji [00:14:28] And hello, everyone. Thank you so much, Mary, and thank you Ethan, so good to be here. I think looking outside my window, I see some like dark clouds, it’s gloomy because the wind has just kicked in South Africa. So it’s a bit chilly in Johannesburg. Just some of my reflections in terms of COVID and placemaking in a number of African cities, the pandemic has brought some sort of grim renaissance in the sense that there is a drive to reclaim and to revitalize public and green spaces. We see this in Nairobi, Kenya, but also in Johannesburg, South Africa. In Joburg CBD, we see communities coming together, is starting to form some kind of alliance that is like pack alliance to help the city council with maintenance because we are struggling with that, but also with preservation. But more and more, we see like struggling neighbourhoods also requesting partnership with the city to co-manage parks and other public spaces with us, which we are so excited about. We are also observing that in parks, nature reserves and urban forestry in cities, they are so overutilized now. And that in itself is a manifestation of the demand for such spaces and extraordinary wake up call, I think, for cities, because the pandemic has really demonstrated how unevenly a public space is distributed throughout many of our cities. A huge one for South Africa because of our past apartheid policies and the legacy of exclusion. So COVID-19 for us has been like an exposé of some sort. It laid back green apartheid. So where you have people in leafy neighbourhoods having access to public spaces at their doorstep, meanwhile, it’s a different story to those from Black townships and informal settlements, which other people call as slums and just talking about placemaking, there has been some really interesting and exciting initiatives across the continent. In South Africa, we see a movement which is called Sidewalks Food Gardens, where people both in affluent areas but also in struggling neighbourhoods starting to transform their street corners into food gardens. And there’s been like we see this in social media knowledge exchange and knowledge sharing with respect to which plants to plant, which species, but also where are the markets, which is really a good thing. In other cities like Banjul in Gambia in West Africa and Dire Dawa in Ethiopia in East Africa, we see like some really interesting processes where cities are starting to reorganize their markets, converting streets and reducing lanes for cars to accommodate informal workers or informal trade and vending, which is a big thing for a continent like ours to start taking into account the needs of informal workers. So when we talk about placemaking from an African perspective, yes it’s locally driven, but it should take into consideration a social justice, but also an informality. And then one last example is in Nairobi, where the Nairobi Metropolitan Service is really investing and constructing new walkways and cycling paths so that they can, it’s like things that you wanted to do before, but it was difficult. But really COVID now has really challenged our city council so I can go on and on. I don’t know if I should go on in terms of what works or but also I’m interested to hear from Bhutan and also from Spain. You tell me.


Mary Rowe [00:18:42] Why don’t we go around the circle and you can come back? OK. It’s interesting Ayanda your comments about informal settlements. You know, I think this is happening more and more in other places as well, that, in fact, in the Global North, they need to be constantly reminded that informal is good and there are all sorts of ways you can take spaces that aren’t necessarily designated but can actually be made into placemaking neighbourhoods do this. The neighbours improvise. I have a laneway behind me and that’s become a shared space and it’s who knows who owns it, you know what I mean? It’s an informal space. So I appreciate that. I want to circle back with you on a couple of things about how this notion of co-management and has COVID given us a moment where co-management is going to become the practice, I think this is a really interesting opportunity. So I’ll come back to you. Let’s go Lhazin to you in Bhutan and you just need to fill people in what’s covid like in Bhutan? But also Lhazin was in Canada for a number of years, which is when I got to know her, and now she’s back in her home country. So really glad to have you. She’s also the person who’s staying up the latest. We’re keeping her from her bed. So, Lhazin we appreciate you staying awake to talk to us about Bhutan.


Lhazin Nedup [00:20:02] Thank you so much, Mary. I managed to get some caffeine, so I promise to stay awake for the next hour and I’m really excited to hear more from the panelists as well. So thank you for having me. In terms of COVID, I think we’re really fortunate that we have a federal government and a king, a monarch who have been governing us through fact based and empathetic approaches. So in terms of the pandemic, I think we’ve been pretty fortunate as a nation. Regarding placemaking and the pandemic. I thought I would highlight maybe a couple of initiatives that are happening in Bhutan. The first one is the De-Suung program so the De-Suung literally translates into Guardians of Peace. So the program was built before COVID and it’s in the spirit of volunteerism, community service and civic responsibility. And the premise of the program is residents undergo this training on a voluntary basis and after the training they can be deployed during a disaster operation like an earthquake, flood, or they could even participate in charitable activities. So the pandemic really increased the number of desuups who signed up. We had 45 training sessions, which meant that twenty two thousand residents across Bhutan signed up to volunteer. And that’s quite significant because our population is under eight hundred thousand. So that the desuups were really essential to how Bhutan handled the pandemic. They delivered essential goods and services during both our lockdown’s. They were helping with quarantine facilities. They coordinated neighbourhood zones. They were active across different social media channels as well as hotlines to respond to questions that residents might have. And they’ve been really active in the city building space as well. They’ve been leading some water projects and certain construction sites as well. And while this De-Suung program is not specific to place, I wanted to highlight it because it’s a platform that builds social resilience. It’s a platform that builds trust and communities and I am thinking of something that Fred Kent actually said, I think it was in 2017, he wrote a letter about democracy and he said that true placemaking is not about the creation of places that we want to go and spend our time. Rather, it’s really about creating communities that have the greater capacity to self organize, to pilot their ideas, to express outreach and solidarity. And I think the De-Suung program is really exemplary of that. And it presents an opportunity to create places that serves everyone and not just the engaged and vocal few. I think it takes a community to create great places as much as it does for great places to create communities. So it’s a very like, I don’t know, mutually enhancing and reinforcing notion. And I think the De-Suung program is a really good example of that. I also want to talk about another program that’s happening in Bhutan, and it’s called the Trans Bhutan Trail. So it’s a collaboration between the Tourism Council of Bhutan and the Bhutan Canada Foundation. So there you go, another link to Canada. So they’ve been reviving a 500 kilometer cross-country trail that connects nine different districts across Bhutan. So for those of you who don’t know, Bhutan has 20 different districts. And this trail has historically fostered a lot of economic activities and social activities. It was also the main channel for communication before. But with the advent of the national highways, most of these trails aren’t being used anymore. I honestly wasn’t even aware of these trails up until quite recently. So the project is really about strengthening the connection of people and places, and it’s about revitalizing and preserving history and is a really great placemaking initiative. What I find really compelling is that it deeply engages local communities on a hyper local scale. So we’re not just talking about the government officials and the active few in these nine districts. We’re talking about people like my grandma who used to use the trail when she was a young person. So it’s reviving history and it’s for local use, but it’s also for tourism. And while I believe that cities should always be built for its residents and citizens, I think it’s also smart to leverage existing programs to generate revenue and funds. You know, I think that’s a really critical piece because we need revenue to create jobs to maintain our public infrastructure. So we need to be smart about how we’re using our public infrastructure. So this revival of the trail and placemaking initiative has also fostered our sustainable tourism program, which is all about high cost and low impact. I’m going to stop there. I could go on and on, but I’m really interested to see what others have to share as well. Thank you.


Mary Rowe [00:25:11] Thanks Lhazin. And I want to do a whole city talk just on volunteerism and how different jurisdictions recruited people in the De-Suung program is just sounds fabulous to me that that you were able to mobilize. And I mean, this is you know, Ethan mentioned my resilience work. This is part of what we saw in New Orleans and we saw in New York after these communities had extraordinary events you do need to mobilize all hands on deck and sometimes you don’t have the infrastructure to reach people who actually have capacity to help. And yet we don’t have the ways to get it to them, to enroll them and enlist them. Let’s wonder it will be interesting to see whether we’re going to come through this and be and have a new approach to that kind of readiness. I’ll be interested to see that. And the your idea of placemaking as an economic development tool, I think that’s critical. And everybody here knows cities that have I mean, the great cities of the world became tourist destinations largely because of their places. So it’ll be interesting to see how we interpret that now, because, as you say, we’ve also got the needs of our own people and as Ayanda talked about, she’s got informal settlements. She’s got thousands and thousands of people living in conditions that are not adequate and already don’t have enough servicing. So this is a balancing act. Ramon let’s go to you and then we’ll open it up to everybody to throw in. But, Ramon, you’re based in Spain, but I think you’re in Amsterdam today. And you did show us at the beginning of the sound check the beautiful view out your window. You’re looking at the Amsterdam waterway right in front of you, which is great. Welcome.


Ramon Marrades [00:26:42] Thank you so much, Mary. I’m really, really happy to be here with you. And thank you all panelists for your words. And already what I’m learning I have to apologies first, because if anyone is using the live transcript, I don’t think it will work very well with my strong Spanish accent because I can barely make Siri work. So for this long live transcript, like fingers crossed that it’s more or less translated. But I hope you get what I’m saying. I’m seeing the Amsterdam waterfront and it’s a very beautiful spring day and it’s marvelous to see that the people sitting on the ground, cycling around and it’s kind of a very vivid image of how important the quality of public spaces and also we are seeing in Europe a moment of probably hope. And I think spring is happening at the same time with vaccination accelerating. And people are starting to feel that this might end a certain point, but also at the same time it’s quite sad as a nation, as a continent in general, we are being blind to the rest of the world. Does this go in so much slow in these aspects? Because what I think is particularly this crisis is showing us how strong the effects of inequality are. And we are seeing in our own cities. No, I really think what Ayanda was sharing, we’ve seen that effects of the pandemic has been extremely unequal. And that is one thing when general reflection that I guess that it’s very important and we still are unsure of which is going to be its impacts, long terms in both social and economic terms. And we start to we start talking about the next wave, which is probably the wave of mental health and which will be the consequences of that. Know what happened? Like they got both education when kids has been obliged to study from school during the time. So I guess that there is one problem and many of you were saying about like we were closing in our shells, in our own shells, but also in our shells as countries, and we shouldn’t be naive about that. I think that can have a really, really important implications because we are closing all socioeconomic bubbles. Paulo Mendes da Rocha, a fantastic Brazilian architect said one day that gated communities are private because they are also private. If they deprive people from many possibilities, like a doctor becoming a love to a dancer. Nowadays doctors are not falling in love with dancers because they are not seeing each other. And that’s a very, very sad. See, these are the break from tourists and tourism has negative externalities for instance. But cities are being deprived of international students, migrants of like being together, the reference one in public space. And we have to make sure that we recover that as soon as possible, because placemaking is one thing, it’s not only about being together, it’s about building the city together. And that means guaranteeing the right to a city. So I do think that it’s very, very important. I guess in the case of Europe, we’ve seen examples of the best and the worst. So we’ve seen a rise in community engagement, a lot of community initiative, fantastic examples from Barcelona to Milan of gaining public space for pedestrians. But we cannot deny that we’ve seen extremely top-down measures from nations reinforcing security, a sort of big brother appearing in our cities. And that’s very dangerous. And I think we are facing generally a big loss of particular and place-based, but also global empathy, which is very, very dangerous. And I want to share just one initiative we are involved at Placemaking Europe because really want to make sure that the diversity, that openness is right to the city it’s on the central place of the debate for recovery. That’s why we are launching with the City of Barcelona, an online initiative which is called the After COVID City Public Space for Recovery to understand, which is the role of places and people for the recovery. Because on the one hand, we need to be back to be together and to be exposed to diversity. We need to open our cities to migrants and diverse people to come and people that is trying to find prosperity. And at the same time, I guess that the discussion is very important because we add on the risk, at least on the developed world, to commit the same mistakes that we did after the big recessions, to try to orient our policies towards a recovery that is total infrastructure led that we build solar panels, we build train lanes, and then we would green it OK. But I think that we do need to do better than that and to make sure that we also invest in people and that means also investing in places.


Mary Rowe [00:31:27] Mm hmm. Boy, you guys, I could honestly, each of you could take an hour and just tell us these stories of all the things that you’re observing and what you’re learning from it, you’re already learning. I have wondered when we’d all get to a place where we could step back far enough and start to learn, you know what I mean? I feel like we’ve just been coping and trying our best to just prevent people from dying and keep people safe. And so I appreciate that you’re able to take a bit of time to start analyzing what we’re learning. And I’m wondering if I can just circle back to where Ayanda was going in terms of the opportunity, I guess, you know, do we feel that we can what do you think the priorities need to be since we know we have the attention of what we have, the attention of the world, but we have the attention of decision makers who all want their cities to recover? What would you say would be the priorities? Ayanda why don’t you go first?


Ayanda Roji [00:32:30] Thank you so much and Mary, and I really hope that we are learning and we do have this attention that you are talking about, because sometimes I wonder which is…


Mary Rowe [00:32:42] I wonder, too, I wonder too


Ayanda Roji [00:32:45] Which is why I’m excited about our partnership with PlacemakingX because of the City of Johannesburg. We are establishing a center on African public spaces where this kind of reflections are going to take place, which is really a knowledge sharing hub for African cities, universities and civil society organizations to take or to send placemaking in terms of how we build cities. And for me, I think what is important in terms of like what we should to work on is to look at our cities with deep consideration of inequality in the COVID-19 trick of recovery phase. So equitable distribution of public spaces is so important in South Africa. I talked about green apartheid. So why don’t we use that as a city restructuring element? You know, usually like Ramon was saying cities like to approach the structure of both social and spatial fabric through like big infrastructure, transportation and stuff like that. Yes, the space like that. But sometimes it doesn’t work really well. But why don’t we look at nature and natural systems. In South Africa, why don’t we go radical and consider these massive golf courses, for example, and have maybe low cost, affordable housing and bring the poor to work in spaces that’s being intentional about the disproportionality that we’re seeing. So that’s the first thing for me. The second thing is why don’t we change the bylaws? You have cities with the bylaws and regulations that date back to colonial times in other African cities. Why don’t we change them and make them adaptable and responsive to the needs of the extremely vulnerable to accommodate new ways of using public spaces and as placemaking says, have locally driven initiative where people are going to belong to the space. I think it’s time for municipalities to see a informality or informal traders, not just as a burden, but not as a burden at all, but as something that needs to be empowered, not as something that needs to be regularized, but as something that needs to be supported and enhanced. Therefore, there needs to be policies and spaces created to empower the sector and also to demonstrate the coherent understanding of the sector and the relationship between informal and formal sectors. I think the last point for me is about planning and organizing public spaces and city making with regards to universal design principles, public spaces need to be repurposed and existing ones really be redesigned and new ones designed, considering users of all abilities and disabilities. Just to mention one example of why I’m doing this. We had a partnership with the University of Cape Town, UN Habitat and [00:36:11]Hendrick Foundation, Hendrick Paul Foundation [3.0s] where we documented COVID stories, really hearing communities and how they’ve been impacted in terms of COVID. There was one story that was so heart wrenching to hear is the story of [00:36:31]Mahoti Letimile  who is on a wheelchair. It was so sad to hear that story. She says every activity in my daily life is an act of protest in terms of how she navigates the city. So unless we find ways to enable people with disabilities and other diversities, it will be so tough to hail public spaces and placemaking as an answer to everything, I think let me stop there for now and maybe there will be another round.


Mary Rowe [00:37:03] You know, you’re making this point that if we’re going to do it, if we have to do it again, which we have to do, we’re going to have to rebuild again. We might as well do it right from the beginning. We might as well. We’ve got this moment. Everybody understands we’ve got to rebuild. Can we do it right? It’s interesting what Ramone was saying. If we’re going to embrace the right to the city. And what I is just saying that we have to prioritize inequality, that has to be at the outset of what we’re doing, and that would mean universal design so that there’s accessibility for all. And it would mean, as you suggest, dismantling these kinds of colonial bylaws that everybody on this call is living with colonial bylaws of different degrees. Can they be altered, lifted to allow for very particular solutions? I guess the risk there is you know I’m going to go to Ramon. He wants to make sure that we’ve got principles, that we’ve got some guarantees in terms of human rights. Are you worried, Ramon, that if we if we let things go to the local, do we run the risk that we won’t have the kind of respect for those larger principles? Or do you think you can embed that in local practice too?


Ramon Marrades [00:38:16] It’s a very, we don’t know yet. And it should be, everyone is seeing the pandemic with their own lenses. So obviously car manufacturers were thinking, okay that was the right moment for us to sell electric cars. And then the autonomous vehicles people were saying, [00:38:28]no, no that’s precisely the moment to do autonomous vehicles. [1.5s] Then us, placemakers are thinking, no, we are right, because you see the impact on inequality, you see the importance of public space. So it is definitely an ongoing debate that the things that we’ve been defending for years have a particular very important role nowadays, but still don’t know if we’ll be able to gain this struggle, because, as I said, I do think this general loss of empathy can have disastrous effects and we are seeing in different elections around Europe.


Mary Rowe [00:39:03] Let’s talk about that loss of empathy. Ethan, you got you said about that we’ve all got to come back out. And I was making that joke about that advertisement for gum. But I think it was really calling to how do we recruit our collective empathy? I think those of us that believe in places, placemaking believe that somehow it does build collective empathy because you encounter somebody different. Although I take it only a Spanish architect is going to say that the doctors can’t fall in love with the dancers because they don’t live in the same neighbourhood. Of course, that’s how a Spanish architect, we wouldn’t say in such an elegant way, but I know I know what they’re getting at. That public space was the place for me to encounter the other. And if we don’t have them or if our neighbourhoods are really segregated, which they are, it would appear around the world. Ethan, do you think public space is this why you invested your life’s career in this work? Because you think public space is the answer?


Ethan Kent [00:40:04] Yeah, so in public space, you know, challenges us and it closes us down sometimes, too, when we allow fear to overcome. But but yeah, how we emerge from this is a choice and how we invite people out and offer examples of safety and comfort and openness and show that the places where that is winning, where people are giving back and they receive more, where place and people support each other, you know, so that is is the model that goes viral. That becomes what we’re all trying to achieve. I love your example of the doctor and the dancer. It actually made me realize that my doctor is both a ballerina and a doctor. And he was below the, in the West Village right below [00:40:57] where Products Public Services Office was. [1.4s] And it sort of reflected, I think, only in that kind of a neighbourhood, you know, would. Right on right on Gay street in the village. So, you know, what are the types of places where we can have people be many different things, where we break down silos. And that would be one of my key messages is to is that, you know, we need to highlight and support the models that are multi-sector, multidisciplinary.


Mary Rowe [00:41:24] Well, I mean, what do you think might happen even if we go to more digital services? I mean, all of a sudden everything’s online. So I’m going to get my parking permit online. I’m going to get my building permit online. I’m going to get my restaurant permit online. I’m going to get my marriage certificate online. I’m not going to need to go to City Hall ever again. Maybe. So are we going to lose that civic space? Or Ayanda, I think, is suggesting they’re going to be processes that I’m going to want to be part of and they’ll be co-managing and so I’ll get back in the game. But I don’t know. I’m worried that our life can be so mechanically serviced now digitally. Maybe we won’t bother going into civic spaces anymore. Maybe we don’t need to.


Ethan Kent [00:42:05] In terms of all types of technology, from digital engagement to online services to autonomous vehicles and electric cars. I think they can be the worst thing for place or the best thing. I think, again, we’re at the sort of juncture, if you get ahead of it and imagine how they can support place, you know, the tensions around them, the conflict around these things can be really useful. They can be, you know, motivating, educating. They can be a catalyst for a change. And certainly, I think, you know, physical space and virtual space need to support each other. So a lot of efficiencies potentially there, but they can also disconnect. And so that’s why we see place and placemaking is simply a way to to bring together, you know, to disrupt and bring together new ways, these often divergent causes, solutions, disciplines. You know, we don’t think it solves everything. There’s a lot of things that can perpetuate, but it can almost always be useful to framing these types of conversations, for bringing together different passion sectors. And, you know, coming out of this for thinking bigger about how do we move beyond just pushing our individual solutions like Ramon said or pushing.


Mary Rowe [00:43:13] If we. Yeah, if we go back to Ayanda’s suggestion around universal design, I’m wondering, too, if, you know, we know there’s going to be the Americans, for instance, have declared a huge investment in infrastructure, generational investment in infrastructure. I think Canada is not far behind. I don’t know about Europe, I don’t know about Asia and Africa. But Ramon, you got your hand up. Go jump in please. Because what I was just going to ask is, can we use that investment in infrastructure to say, well, don’t just build infrastructure, it’s got to be civic space and all that kind of stuff. Go ahead Ramon.


Ramon Marrades [00:43:46] No, no, that’s another struggle that I hope we can win at the end or gain a spot. But I’m quite optimistic about this relationship between digital and physical and all [00:43:55]this reading. [0.2s] And I think we all that we could all agree that’s no, [00:44:00]that’s not the debt of the city [1.5s] and nothing close to that. But what I do think is that when we realize that we need a human connection, know, so that’s out of discussion. And I think that’s probably the main learning of this crisis, which is the need for interdependence. So, like, this is a real necessity for human connection. So I think only because of this learning, I think that’s been important enough and relating to this kind of services that you were mentioning, Mary just going to the city council or go into something physical that now you going be online. I am really optimistic, because I do think that when place has substitute, it needs to have better quality. So that could be a really good, a transformative engine to actually have better and more inclusive places. Because if we want to be there, if we want to go to university, we have to be in school. If we have to be in the square, we need something better. And that better means generally like more possibilities to being together no, increasing the quality for, to enforcing togetherness. And that makes me quite optimistic.


Mary Rowe [00:45:06] Lhazin. How does that fit with you? You’re still muted there Lhazin. There we go. How does that.


Lhazin Nedup [00:45:16] I had a few thoughts. I think the first thing is the digital can never substitute for the real life, in-person conversations. I think, as Ramon mentioned, that’s just like a continuous trail of thought between all my circle of friends and with the digital is really dangerous because you can disengage with a click and you become less empathetic and you lose the human connection. So I think there are dangers of that as well. But I don’t dismiss the benefits that comes with all these amenities. I wanted to go back to what Ayanda was saying earlier about people with disabilities. And I think with the pandemic in Bhutan as well, it has disproportionately impacted certain segments of the population and two sections that have been perhaps not considered as first people living with disabilities. While we’re very blessed to have mountains and green spaces in walking distance. It’s not very accessible. Our footpaths are in dismal conditions, like just walking 10 minutes. For me, like it’s hard because I have to jump through a mound of dirt and then I have to cross over to the other side because the foot paths aren’t continuous. So when we’re building back and we’re thinking about the global recovery, we really need to think about everyone and we need to think about people’s intersectional identities. And that’s really key. And I think the other segment of the population that’s been bearing the brunt of the pandemic is youth in Bhutan. So with the school closures, as well as going into the job market, which is just really dismal and devastating, and they’ve also had massive interruptions to social connections and support systems. And the UN was reporting that mental health is at an all time low. So we really need to think about who is being left behind in these conversations as we’re thinking about placemaking, as we’re thinking about the global recovery. And we really need to reframe the narrative that youth is the future of our countries and cities and instead make them key stakeholders of the present and so that we can collectively build a future that they’re going to inherit.


Mary Rowe [00:47:37] Do you see young people as I mean, I know that Bhutan is a relatively young country and in fact, you’re making this point, which I think is so important for us to remember, that placemaking needs to fit in the context of economic development, particularly for countries where there isn’t, where an income distribution is a big struggle. Right. So, Ayanda, are you talking about youth as well? Do you see engaging youth or do you see youth? And do you see now youth getting engaged in the placemaking work that you’re familiar with in your part of the world?


Ayanda Roji [00:48:09] Yes, I think they are so important to be engaged and I think working for a municipality, we need to find creative ways of finding them. We can’t expect them to go to a city hall at 5 o’clock and be interested in that. So one of the projects that we did with the support of the UN Habitat, but [00:48:31]also Jayvid [0.5s] and the local NGO Sticky Situations, we wanted to deliberate in terms of wanting to engage young people and bring them into urban design and hear their desires and views about the space. So we asked UN Habitat to come in and we trained a young people on how to use a Minecraft video game. So it was so exciting. And we managed to to engage young people who don’t have homes, who are on the streets, who told us and challenged us and said, look, city parks, you are building the same parks everywhere. You don’t know our needs. We want a chilling space. And we want information about the kind of programs you talk about in your speeches. We want jobs, so we want an information wall in this park. So that was quite challenging. Sometimes we see them as angry or but it’s about how do we channel that energy so that they don’t get to be involved in illicit behaviours. We need young people to sort of tackle the wicked problems that we have. We need the energy, but I think not young people alone. We need this intergenerational knowledge, something we need to combine them with an older cohort so that we can learn from each other.


Mary Rowe [00:49:55] You know, it’s interesting, just if somebody who didn’t even know what placemaking was came into this conversation and heard you all they’d think you were talking about, you could be talking about any aspect of urban life, you could be talking about the future of the economy. You could be talking about the future of health. You could be talking about the future of social justice. The principles that you’re all applying are you choose placemaking is your way of materially making the difference in the city. But these are the challenges that you just identified about how do we engage young people in policymaking, how do we get them engaged in leadership? How do we actually. And not alone. Not alone. So I’m hearing you guys describe a kind of hybrid. We anecdotally, we were aware that people were accessing the Wi-Fi outside of libraries in North America. They would stand on the street and get the signal from the router that the librarian had moved to the window even though the library was closed. To me, that was just an early indication that these things can coexist, that the technology can bring us to space and then space can help us, which is what? The Minecraft exercise. It sounds like it did. Hmm. Ramon, if you sort of do a survey in your own mind of the next three months. What would you be telling placemakers to double down on?


Ramon Marrades [00:51:20] This is very difficult advice


Mary Rowe [00:51:23] Other than other than trying to enjoy a good couple of months, but I mean, when vaccines become more prevalent, and the incidence of the virus diminishes. But have you got


Ramon Marrades [00:51:32] I go back to make it


Mary Rowe [00:51:34] Is it about money? Is it about co management or is it about planning? Is it about what? Is it about access? Is it about changing some bylaws? What is it?


Ramon Marrades [00:51:44] It’s basically about inclusion, they would say. So we are learning about a lot about that lately. I’ve always, my background is in economics and if they take taken one learning of my practice the last years, is that always, always, always a properly done engagement strategy, a strategy ends up being an economic development strategy. It always works.


Mary Rowe [00:52:07] Right. It’s all the same conversation.


Ramon Marrades [00:52:10] Entrepreneurship, innovation, those are collective also creating the resources which are basically related to place to make that happen are really, really important, especially nowadays in a digital world when inclusion is so relevant.


Mary Rowe [00:52:25] The other thing is, if you can live anywhere now, if certain people can make choices about where they’re going to choose to live, not everyone can, but some can. Is place going to make the difference? You’re going to say, well, yeah, I could be online, but I actually am choosing to live here.


Ramon Marrades [00:52:39] But the one thing related to this is quite interesting because one of the goals that I would say that we have as placemakers during the following years, and I’m sure it is related to visibility and representation in public spaces. And I would like to add one think about that later. It’s breaking this hypocritical division between expats and migrants. That they hate because sometimes, like if we talk about skills, we talk about the things that are needed for the economy, sometimes like it’s just, it’s so unfair and it makes no sense. So we really have to get people that bring prosperity into cities and people that is willing to be prosperous within cities. It never works when we only work in one side. And I’m saying that we think an extremely rich city, which is Amsterdam that is going to have a struggle because it’s only focusing on attracting those so-called expats. And I think like relating to that, like we need diversity in public space. We need diversity to foster even the economic development and to take better decisions. If we think that some have done better, it’s been leaded by female leaders. And that’s not a random thing.


Mary Rowe [00:53:49] We need diversity in public policy development. We need, that’s what I’m suggesting placemaking is this metaphor for every aspect of city life. What it takes to make a great place is what it takes to make great public policy, great health policy, great economic development. Ethan, you talked about New York City. We’ve all seen the pictures. Not a lot of people coming back into their offices, but a lot of take. I loved your comment that we take back the street that we’re going to take in essence, we’re taking back these spaces. Do you see that as a priority for the next couple of months? Make that stick.


Ethan Kent [00:54:25] Yeah, definitely, I think we need to make sure that one of the key lessons people generate from this is the respect for informality, for the social relationships, the unpaid work, our connections to each other locally, but also digitally and virtually. We’ve all become you know, in some ways the world has become smaller, more interdependent, seeing how the virus has affected everyone, but also how the recovery has been, we’ve been able to connect globally in ways like this. But certainly the you know, the ways that New York hasn’t been appreciated enough for how its neighbourhoods and their resilience that have really defined the strengths of the city, the ways that people informally take over their streets, add to them, organize, build local identity, create new culture. You know, and I think as Ayanda said too, we need to understand that appreciate the wealth that the shared wealth that’s built through those models support it, respect it. And, you know, as I mentioned earlier in the conversation, the gated communities don’t have that. It’s a bankrupt way of living. And we’ve been celebrating that sort of, sort of form of capitalism. You know, there’s obviously a lot of issues of capitalism wealth that have been uncovered that placemaking can’t address is fundamentally. But we can show how these, how where communities are recovering, where they’re building shared wealth, where they’re enjoying being around each other in the public realm, how that is driving economic success and social success, health outcomes. You know, we can move the needle, I think a long ways on that.


Mary Rowe [00:55:58] But if you look at a network like this that you’re building, Ethan, PlacemakingX, which we’re hoping to contribute to and each person here on this is part of that. What do you think this network needs to bring to each? What do we need to bring to each other? Maybe I could ask Ayanda that. What do you need from the global community Ayanda? Of placemakers, what could we do to be supportive and help you or just stand with you?


Ayanda Roji [00:56:25] I think already I’m getting that I think as it is, we really need to know that, okay, what we are experiencing also Bhutan is experiencing. What we’re experiencing also New York is experiencing and this is how they are addressing it, just to support each other and also to encourage each other. So at the very basic level, we need that.


Mary Rowe [00:56:47] Mm hmm. What about you, Lhazin?


Lhazin Nedup [00:56:52] I agree with Ayanda and I think the global learning and the network is key, and I think it’s also more important that we learn the lessons learnt from each other. I think placemaking is a really incredible process that can help towards the global recovery. But it’s important to examine who’s asking for what amenities and who is building those pieces and more importantly, at whose expense are we accessing those amenities. So I really want to understand the lessons learnt and the tough questions and have those answers through the global network and hope that we can share without judgement and without fear of failure.


Mary Rowe [00:57:30] Yeah, fear of failure. It’s important, this Canadian program that the federal government has supported, we’ve been working on, they were centering equity as the principal organizing there to make sure that diverse communities and equity seeking communities and groups that don’t normally have access to infrastructure money could have access to this to see if we could engage a different kind of community and population. And I’m wanting to make sure we don’t lose that. You know, we have to systematically create these kinds of things, not just with one program. Ramon, any comment from you in terms of what the benefit of this network could bring should be given to itself?


Ramon Marrades [00:58:06] I think that in a particular moment when actually risk aversion is lowered as well. And also I think one of the best thing that we’ve seen is this emergency governance and also like all sorts of policies have to implement quick. And then that is also higher potential to collaborate. And we are in a highly collaborative environment. Like I think one of the nice things with the placemaking community is that we are really open to change and we are really happy to change. And if I think of my own position some years ago, being a civil servant in a municipality and then meeting Ethan, and like you know Ethan, how he is probably the greatest connection, connector in the world, but kind of like being able to see the results to learn from each other, to see that you are not alone there and building those bridges between those that are working in the ground. But they are really connecting with the kind of way to see the world is super, super strong. So I do think that we have very, we have to be very supportive, be empathic to the ones that actually doing the work. And be sure that our works, like our learnings can be like, don’t be shy to share you know. I think that’s it.


Mary Rowe [00:59:24] And including the things that don’t work, which I think is what we have and we want to learn from our failures as well as our successes. So listen, thank you so much for joining us for this hour. Ethan, Ramon, Lhazin and Ayanda so appreciative to have you. And as Ethan is cultivating this PlacemakingX network, we are very happy in Canada to be part of it. There is something called, someone can put that into the chat. Andrew Pask in Vancouver has been leading a placemaking community across the country. Hundreds of people. As I said, hundreds of organizations have stepped forward to put together some project ideas to hopefully be funded and if not to be sustained in some other way. So this is just the beginning for us. We don’t want to lose anybody’s number here. And on Friday, if you want to tune in, you’ll be able to hear about the first round from the Healthy Communities Initiative. It’ll be from one o’clock to two thirty on Eastern Time Zone, Toronto Time. Please join us or you can watch it after and someone will put it into the chat. And so many resources that everyone shared today. Thank you so much. Pithy ideas. As I suggested you, we never have enough time for these things. But what you all do is you make people hungry for more. And that’s the success of a good program. So thank you for being part of it all the best as you take the next set of steps over the next few months. And we look forward to being in conversation with you again. So Ayanda thanks again, Lhazin so great to see you, Ramon nice to meet you again. And Ethan, always great to see you in the big city of New York. So thanks very much, folks, for joining us. And as some of you, I’ll see you in a couple of days when the Healthy Communities Initiative launches its first round, announces it first round and launches the second. Thanks, everybody. Great to see.


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00:33:38 Abigail Slater (she/her): Hello from Tkaranto. So nice to have you back.
00:34:05 Canadian Urban Institute: Welcome! Folks, please change your chat settings to “all panelists and attendees” so everyone can see your comments.
00:34:15 Canadian Urban Institute: Attendees: where are you tuning in from today?
00:34:25 John Surico: NYC!
00:34:55 Paula Gallo: Toronto
00:34:55 David Vivian: Montreal 🙂
00:34:58 TJ Maguire: Hello from Peggy’s Cove!
00:35:04 Maria Alonso Novo: Madrid 🙂
00:35:18 Purshottama Reddy: Hello, Everyone. P S Reddy from Durban, South Africa.
00:35:21 Maliga Naidoo: Durban, South Africa
00:35:49 Lexie Leggat: Halifax, Nova Scotia. Home of the Mi’kmaw
00:35:50 Maliga Naidoo: Hello Prof Reddy 😁🙌
00:35:54 alex Sasayama: Buenos Dias from Los Angeles, California, occupied land of the Gabrieliño-Tongva people.
00:36:06 Sarah Manteuffel: Hello from Winnipeg – Treaty One Territory on the original lands of Anishinaabeg, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota and Dene peoples, and the homeland of the Métis Nation.
00:36:13 Diana Gunstone: Squamish, BC
00:36:15 Chelsea Whitty: Traditional territory of Treaty 6 (Edmonton)
00:38:09 Esha Biddanda Pavan: Hello from Toronto! Just moved here from India. Loving it so far.
00:38:22 Alex Smith: Happy to join in from Eastern Passage, Nova Scotia. Cheers
00:38:51 Canadian Urban Institute: Learn more about the Healthy Communities Initiative:
00:38:52 Ann Wilson: Hi everyone, I’m an uninvited guest on the traditional and unceded territories of the Coast Salish peoples, including the Semiahmoo, q̓íc̓əy̓ (Katzie), kʷikʷəƛ̓əm (Kwikwetlem), Kwantlen, Qayqayt and Tsawwassen.
00:39:47 Laurel Davies Snyder: Hello from Stratford, ON.
00:39:55 Canadian Urban Institute: Ethan Kent, Executive Director of PlacemakingX
@ebkent @PlacemakingX

Ramon Marrades, Director of Placemaking Europe
@RamonMarrades @placemaking_eu

Lhazin Nedup, Planning Consultant at Urban Platform

Ayanda Roji, General Manager: Corporate Research, Policy and Knowledge Management at Johannesburg City Parks
00:40:15 Lynda Ferris: Chilliwack, BC – ‘Ts’elxwéyeqw’ -on the traditional territory of the Stó:lō (Stah-lo) – People of the River.
00:40:27 Florent Chiappero: Nice to join you from Dakar, Senegal !
00:41:14 Canadian Urban Institute: CUI extends a big thank you to our partner for today’s session, PlacemakingX! Learn more about their work here:
00:42:49 Sonam Dem: Greeting from Juba, South Sudan
00:43:25 Dechen Nedup: Hello from Thimphu, BHUTAN
00:46:42 Abigail Slater (she/her): Ha! The ad is very funny
00:47:00 Canadian Urban Institute: Reminding attendees to please change your chat settings to “all panelists and attendees” so everyone can see your comments.
00:47:22 Pavlik Frank: Hello from Montreal!
00:49:58 Minaz Asani-Kanji: So glad to hear about the reclamation and revitalization of public green space in Nairobi which I know doesn’t have a whole lot of public green space.
00:54:00 Lester Brown: Hello from Toronto. In handling new transit they are turning to transit-centred community but not really making these areas destinations but using them for development to raise money for the transit. it should be called transit-centred development. Destroyed a mosque and important community space in Thornecliffe and the 1st Parliament site in Corktown.
00:55:38 Lisa Cavicchia:
00:56:33 Winnie Lai: bhutan
00:56:48 Maliga Naidoo: Informal setting in South Africa refers to informal settlements. Interestingly, it was found that the highest level of antigens were found in the informal settlements in the Western Cape. Amongst the affluent areas its much lower and they are bracing for the third wave.
00:57:38 Lisa Cavicchia:
00:58:22 Diana Gunstone: Who was Lhazin’s True Placemaking quote from – re “creating communities”
00:58:23 Maliga Naidoo: just completed a 5 day scoping exercise on place making at a municipality in Western Cape. Very interesting indeed🤔
01:01:36 Brian Webb: @Diana Gunstone — Fred Kent
01:03:57 Lisa Cavicchia:
01:05:42 Ramon Marrades: Thanks, Lisa
01:08:55 Abigail Slater (she/her): We need to look at the golf courses in GTA both public and private I would suggest.
01:13:33 Purshottama Reddy: There might be land that is lying idle that can be used – do we have to target golf courses ?
01:13:42 Nelson Edwards: Mary happy advert:
01:13:45 Nelson Edwards:
01:14:35 Nelson Edwards: Don’t get distracted – play the advert later – LOL!
01:14:36 Ramon Marrades: The sentence was said by Paulo Mendes da Rocha
01:18:03 Mona Al-Sharari: When I was living in Amman, I encountered how people can take over places and make them their own. Amman is currently constructing its first ever bus rapid transit (BRT) network. The project entailed creating a designated lane for busses in the middle of the street. The project is severely delayed and as a result, currently there are empty lanes with no operational buses. What I found very interesting is that the public took over these empty spaces and are currently utilising them as open spaces where you can find cyclists, people walking and running, and others sitting around and chatting. While this can be seen as evidence of a dire need of open spaces in the country what it really made me realise is how much power the public holds in placemaking. Another important aspect that should be considered when planning infrastructure projects is to consider creating complimentary spaces for the use of the public.
01:21:04 David Waldron: Strongly agree with ‘digital can never replace’… (while recognizing what it can help with)… An interesting multi-generational trend is ‘in play’ as ‘digitally conditioned cultural norms’ (e.g. ‘I’ll just click away’) making its way into public spaces… Speaks to the important reciprocity of ‘people and place’…
01:22:34 Lisa Cavicchia:
01:24:31 John Surico: In NYC, the branch library systems are actually building up their antennas to reach farther; now, they’re looking at outdoor reading spaces for the summer, particularly at Brooklyn Public Library.
01:25:19 alex Sasayama: Speaking of Minecraft, here is a re-creation of the oldest Chinatown in North America:
01:26:15 Minaz Asani-Kanji: Ramon, that is profound “A properly done community engagement strategy is an economic strategy”
01:27:23 Ronni Rosenberg: we do see our youth as the promise of the future…what is implication for education?
01:28:00 Canadian Urban Institute: You can find transcripts and recordings of today’s and all our sessions at

Keep the conversation going #CityTalk @canurb
01:28:33 Canadian Urban Institute: CUI extends a big thank you to our partner for today’s session, PlacemakingX! Learn more about their work here:
01:28:34 Ramon Marrades: Thank you Minaz 🙂
01:29:02 Canadian Urban Institute: Other resources: learn more about Placemaking Canada
URL/Facebook –
Twitter – @place_canada
01:29:20 Abigail Slater (she/her): I think there are risks (I think Ramon may have been alluding to this) when remote work allows for the benefits of living elsewhere but no responsibility-whether the ability to vote or pay tax (depending upon residence rules).
01:30:48 Lisa Cavicchia: Good opportunity to share the CUI/Happy City Rapid Placemaking Guide
01:31:00 Ramon Marrades: Exactly, Abigail, agree
01:31:05 Dina Graser: This has been a dynamite panel. Thank you all for the thought-provoking way you’ve all connected the dots between such important issues. It’s profound to hear the commonalities across the globe.
01:31:07 Pattie Petrala: The feminist community subscribes to this model. YES – diversity inclusion = Collaboration across sectors (turf/professions) cultures and generations will enrich community capacity, development, renewal and yet respect heritage and positive future which works for all. I think most people now “get it” – we truly are ALL in it together.
01:32:06 Lisa Cavicchia: And check out CUI’s CityShareCanada site for tools and examples of placemaking:
01:32:14 Canadian Urban Institute: Join us this Friday at 1pm Eastern for the launch of the second round of the Healthy Communities Initiative, a $31 million investment from the Government of Canada to support communities as they adapt public spaces for the new realities of the pandemic. Register here:
01:32:44 Pavlik Frank: The placemaking movement may be a metaphor for better management in all spheres of life, as Mary suggests, but places are fundamentally different because they are real, physical and exist of their own accord over time. Thus places have that much more power, power to shape our world and to integrate, inspire and give agency to people of all spheres of life.
01:33:04 Abigail Slater (she/her): Great session. Thank you.
01:33:05 Frank Murphy: From Nanaimo: thank you everyone!
01:33:11 Ayanda Roji: UNHABITAT has developed a guide on PS and Covid.
01:33:14 TJ Maguire:
01:33:18 Laurel Davies Snyder: Thank you. Fantastic panel and discussion. Willingness to embrace change is so key.
01:33:34 Marie Soleil Brosseau: Thank you so much everyone !
01:33:41 Alex Smith: Thanks so much – great discussion
01:33:46 Ann Wilson: Thank you so much panelists and Mary!
01:33:49 Avinash Soni: Thank you so much
01:34:02 Minaz Asani-Kanji: Thank you so much. CUI, you do the best webinars!
01:34:03 Pavlik Frank: Thank you to all!