Where Idealism Meets Action

This past Sunday my classmates and I participated in one of the the most important aspects of placemaking: work. So often in many of the planning circles I’ve been involved in, it is too often the case that we never move out of the idealism, and into the realization of our ideals. It is a recognition of, and implementation of, the necessary work that idealism implies that ultimately pushes a project forward and ensures its longevity.

The work we did on Sunday at the Salotto con Visto was a great example of this, as it was a realization of the ideals I–and the people I was working with– shared. As I was working I recalled one of the Jane Jacob’s quotes we heard on the first day: “Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.” While the people working with us by no means represented all the people of the city, it certainly represented a good amount of them, and in doing so reinforced the concept that the Salotto con Visto is a project designed by community members and for community members, and ultimately maintained by community members.

I saw the work we did on Sunday as an embodiment of Anirban Adhya’s Placemaking  definition: the ways in which all human beings transform the places in which they live through creative processes. Everyone involved on Sunday left their own personal touches on Salotto con Visto, making it a little bit their own, and leaving part of them in the place they had worked on. I know personally that I will be going back to check on the succulents that I planted, and to see how the spray paint is or is not holding up on the sidewalks. My hope is that the spray paint is worn away by the shoes of friendly visitors to this living room, and that the succulents are cared for and utilized by those same people.

Good work in common purpose, then, creates a double-blessing of sorts. Not only do you get the tangible results of a physical change, but you also reinforce the values of a community and create a common accountability to continue to cherish and maintain what you have already worked for.

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