Placemaking in a Pandemic

Before the pandemic hit our area, The Network was just starting to get heavily involved in Forward SGF, the City of Springfield’s comprehensive plan for the next 20 years. We attended the workshops in January to ensure the YP voice was represented when looking to the future of our community. We even held “tailgates” before the workshops to encourage more people to attend – which we later found out was a first for the planning consultants.

It’s safe to say that Springfield YPs are excited about the future of our community and want to have a hand in crafting the vision.

Then COVID-19 hit, and many aspects of placemaking came to a halt. As we and others in the community have started to gain our footing and navigate these unprecedented times, we realized we need to continue focusing on making Springfield the best place to live.

In March, the City of Springfield hired Tim Rosenbury for the new position of Director of Quality of Place Initiatives. Not many communities have a role like this, so when we found out about it, we knew we needed to hear from him. Young professionals in our community have access to key leaders, and Tim was more than willing to sit down with The Network at The Gallery and talk all things placemaking on July 28. We had members joining us in-person and virtually.

Here were some key takeaways from our conversation with him:

-Tim’s experience as an architect has greatly helped him in his new role, as design is one of his top priorities.

-Placemaking is about making public space that is safe, engaging, and a fun and exciting place for everyone. So Tim gets to be a part of projects at the City to ensure we are doing all we can to make SGF a better place.

-Placemaking is somewhat of a buzzword right now, but it’s been on Tim’s mind a long time! But technology and globalization of communication has made the need for great places that much more important.

-Tim thinks we really need to focus on trying to retain our college students by making even more effort in places around campuses. For many students, that small radius is their impression of SGF.

-One way that Tim thinks we can leverage our natural assets is expanding our trail network and connecting some of the amazing attractions we have!

-What can YPs do to get involved and support placemaking? Keep doing what we’re doing and show up! There are more Forward SGF workshops coming in the fall that we need to attend. Our community isn’t perfect, and we have the opportunity to make it better. We need to be contributors and not just consumers.

-We were also reminded of the importance of getting out and voting!

To see the full event from the perspective of those that joined us virtually, watch the video below: