Published June 1, 2016
From Urban Milwaukee
Milwaukee’s Clarke Square neighborhood was in the spotlight for one of the sessions at the National Main Street Center’s annual conference held in Milwaukee last week at the Wisconsin Center. The conference was billed as an event that “brings together a coast-to-coast network of city planners, community revitalization professionals, volunteers and elected officials working to sustain the future of America’s historic downtowns.” But the sessions ranged more widely, to include development beyond downtowns.
Sara Daleiden, a cultural production consultant with the Greater Milwaukee Committee, described several projects that have focused on reimagining West Wisconsin Avenue, including temporary installations, NEWaukee-hosted night markets and Creative Alliance Milwaukee’s The Spot4MKE project. Daleiden said these initiatives have shown the “public space is really wanted.” She hopes that development of a city-owned lot on Wisconsin between 4th and 5th streets will include a public space. She is also working with the GMC on projects relating to a citywide trail network that includes walkable city streets. GMC has also developed “The Milwaukee Method of Creative Placemaking,” which Daleiden described as focusing on investing in public spaces, repurposing industrial areas and valuing neighborhoods.
All of the above initiatives focus on remaking places. The Project for Public Spaces has been using the term placemaking since the mid-1990s relating to efforts to create or enhance “places that people love.” The nonprofit, which works throughout the world, began in 1975 based on the ideas of William “Holly” Whyte and Jane Jacobs. Simply bringing people to a place, whether for special events or on a regular basis, affects how a neighborhood evolves socially and economically.
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