Re-engaging the Public in the Art of Community Place-Making Wendy McClure and Fred A. Hurand
Main Street was once the center of public life in small American towns. Unfortunately, these centers have lost their prominence in many communities. Several factors have contributed to the decline of downtown districts, but, foremost, is the lack of collective responsibility for their well being. The process of creating and maintaining meaningful public spaces is a shared responsibility requiring a culture of support from a diverse cross-section of the community including design professionals. According to Kuntsler (1993, 273):
As a culture, we have abdicated our collective responsibility for the public places that nurture community spirit. Citizens no longer assume the role of caretaker because it is not an ingrained cultural expectation. To restore economic well being and preserve historic continuity of downtown districts, it is necessary to first restore a culture of support. One strategy to nurture that custodial spirit is to engage citizens and civic leaders in the process of downtown design decisionmaking. This chapter will discuss the importance of citizen participation in the downtown revitalization process. Through case study examples specific strategies to involve citizens in downtown design and planning will be presented.