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What is Placemaking?

What is Placemaking?
February 1, 2023 Nicole

The Partnership has recently fielded questions around placemaking? The term is trendy but has been in use for decades. Placemaking is the idea that public places (streets, sidewalks, parks, plazas, etc.) are shared and should provide human connection, and give the community a shared identity. Project for Public Spaces is a cross-disciplinary, non-profit that shares a passion for public spaces, and they ask… 

What if we built our communities around places? 

As both an overarching idea and a hands-on approach for improving a neighborhood, city, or region, placemakinginspires people to collectively reimagine and reinvent public spaces as the heart of every community. Strengthening the connection between people and the places they share, placemaking refers to a collaborative process by which we can shape our public realm in order to maximize shared value. More than just promoting better urban design, placemaking facilitates creative patterns of use, paying particular attention to the physical, cultural, and social identities that define a place and support its ongoing evolution. 

Great places are multi-faceted and consider sociability, uses/activities, access/linkages, and comfort/image. The following diagram provides a more detailed explanation of these four ideals. 

Placemaking is a priority for the Partnership because workforce attraction, retention, and redevelopment is key to a robust local economy. The vibrancy of the downtown commercial core is often the thermometer many read when evaluating the health of a community. Additionally, technology has given us the flexibility of working from/connecting with almost anyone, anywhere. That has further enabled human choice on where to live – we all prefer to inhabit quality-designed spaces. 

The Partnership promotes varied uses and activities counselling and supporting existing and new businesses to help them achieve their goals.  Additionally, we work with building owners and developers to reuse/redevelop existing structures.  We foster sociability by holding multiple community events, promotions, and volunteer opportunities. We promote access and linkages by marketing the downtown to Jane Addams Trail users, tying together these two assets. Lastly, we help create comfort and a positive image by continually working to improve the pedestrian environment with beautification efforts.  

This work is done in partnership with ALL our stakeholders. Thank you to the City of Freeport, downtown business and building owners, and Freeport residents. As always, we look forward to continuing our work together in 2023. 

Andrea Schultz Winter is the Development Director for the Greater Freeport Partnership and facilitates the Design & Placemaking Committee. She can be reached at or 815-233-1354.